Long Violent History

The pensive face of young Tyler Childers is popping up on computer screens around the world. The son of a surface coalminer, this Kentucky singer & songwriter’s first release was “Bottles and Bibles.” and he is known as the spokesman for the people in his region who often struggle financially. In his statement about his new song, Long Violent History, he simply asks his community to put themselves in the shoes of African-Americans who fear everyday encounters with “public servants,” the police. In the song itself, he wonders how many “boys could be pulled off this mountain,” before his community swarmed into town, demanding “answers and armed to the teeth.”

One of his ex-fans suggests his expression of these “liberal views,” which include not getting shot in one’s sleep, have ended his career, a bit of a stretcher since his new page had over 50,000 likes within days of posting. In the accompanying song, the weaponry he describes includes Pawpaw’s old rifle and Springfield 30-06s. You may know what an aught 6 is but I (that’s Philippa) had to look it up, a rifle introduced in WWI, largely retired but still in use as a regular old hunting rifle. And the uprising he invokes is the Battle of Blair Mountain, a bona fide labor struggle over conditions in coal mines, not some ridiculous gun rally or ghastly display or racism or anti-Semitism. I hope you will take the time to listen to his statement. It’s a marvel.

His solution is to vote out those who have let police brutality run, and he suspects that these same people are the ones who hollowed out his and like communities–jobs out, drugs in–in what have become food deserts. He encourages his community to spend more time growing food, canning, hunting, fishing, and tanning hides, so they don’t have so much time to jawbone about things they know nothing about.

Good advice for everyone, and we know Tyler Childers wouldn’t be such a fool as to go deer hunting with an AK-whatever.

All proceeds from the song go to the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund that he set up with his wife, Senora May, a beautiful story all her own. They are in the process of setting up a scholarship fund to support  people of color attending Appalachian colleges.

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