Another song rooted in that train trip from St. Paul to Boston, what it takes came out of seeing some dock workers at one of the stops on the way to Chicago, I think it was Red Wing.
One of the big things I’ve been trying to understand since the chaos of 2016 is the experience of the rural working class in America. I grew up around it, but my immediate family is mostly clergy (not entirely: my stepdad works for the government and my father was in the army, then was a police officer, and now works security at a stadium in California) so there were always at least a few steps of difference between myself and the farmers and factory workers who raised many of my friends.
He says “Pay is pay
no matter what it takes from you.”
the game that we play, we try
to trade our bodies away
to keep what’s left warm
oh, engine keep me warm.
This notion of doing something that one knows will have long-term negative effects on your body (working in a mine with poor breathing conditions, shingling, etc.) but doing so anyway because the money is good is really striking to me as someone who can afford to take a few hours away from work if my hands get too strained from typing or playing.
There are so many people in this country (not to mention the world) who make that sort of exchange their entire lives. For them, feeding their families and ensuring that they can access a better life is worth a strained back, a sore body, fading eyesight.
That notion reminds me of the best things about love, when you truly love someone you’ll bear all kinds of weight for them, you’ll do things you never thought you could and suffer all kinds of pain. That’s the sort of exchange we make in the world we live in.
She keeps on telling me there’s a door,
and I can walk right through, if I want to
but with every little look, with each rainy kiss
we're digging in trenches, and I’m fighting soon
We're playing this song live for the first time at the Turf Club in February.
fun fact: this song was originally called "keep me warm" but some people just couldn't stop making references to Macklemore's song Same Love (which is a song I like well enough, but it got annoying when my bass player and drummer wouldn't let it go) which has a line like that.
MACKLEMORE DOESN'T HAVE A MONOPOLY ON THINGS BEING KEPT WARM.