The Warmth of Other Suns

Last year about this time I read an amazing book, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Isabel is a New York Times reporter who took a year off to write a record of Black migration from our South to the North. It was harrowing, explicit, condemning, rehabilitating and redemptive, all in one book.  It gave me an appreciation for what many Blacks of our country have gone through since being “liberated” after the Civil War. I am embarrassed to acknowledge the absolute degrading circumstances we have allowed to take over our nation as witnessed in our minority populations even to this day.

The book got me to thinking, big time. I was inspired to write a song of which I have attached the lyrics below. (Later, I will include an mp3 for those of you interested in the song itself.) The song is about a man named Lincoln West, a pseudonym for a composite story of powerlessness and greed spawned by the stories Isabel Wilkerson wrote about in her profoundly moving book.

Here are the lyrics:

 

Lincoln West

 

There’s a ripple on the water,

Rowboat leaving the scene.

Two shadows row to shore,

Someone sees a moonbeam.

At the bottom of the dark,

Is a body made to rest.

Could that be Lincoln West, Lincoln West?

 

Lincoln lived a simple life

Scratched a hoe over the ground

Farmed 10 acres of green life

Lived to love what he sowed, a simple man.

Lincoln lived ‘til ‘26,

Tilled the land that he loved

No one there but sister Sue,

Mom and Dad laid in the ground, years ago

One night, lit by moonlight,

Two men on the front porch stoop,

Called Lincoln by name,

One held a gun, the other a noose, in the shadow were their friends.

 

Refrain:

There’s a ripple on the water,

Rowboat leaving the scene.

Two shadows row to shore,

Someone sees a moonbeam.

At the bottom of the dark,

Is a body made to rest.

Could that be Lincoln West, Lincoln West?

 

Seconds slowed, the house took fire,

A hellish red, burnt like a pine tree,

Susan running, calling for help,

The house was gone, all that they owned, left nothin’ but the heat.

Lincoln knew the rope could kill,

Heard the powder, bled the hand,

He was caught as just a man,

Whose color is black, just a simple man, a stalwart man.

Flashes of light, smoking torches,

A tight rope, it was over.

A body in the trunk, a lake, a boat,

A splash, a coward’s laugh, men rush to shore, murdered a man.

 

Refrain:

There’s a ripple on the water,

Rowboat leaving the scene.

Two shadows row to shore,

Someone sees a moonbeam.

At the bottom of the dark,

Is a body made to rest.

Could that be Lincoln West, Lincoln West?

Advertisements

About Ed Anderson

I am "non-religious", not an atheist as some suppose, since after reading what I have written many wonder if I believe in "God", I just don't have a name for the concept, "God", nor do I have an origination story or theological mystery tour to stretch your faith. (I have no proof of what I believe and I wonder if my belief in "God" is supportable as I have increasing doubts.) I just can't accept an inflexible point of view that says, "I know what you need, and I know what you should know and here it is, you can have it too." Religionists present yet another obstacle to finding "truth" as they claim to have succeeded exclusively in finding it. Having been a part of the religious scene for years it is clear to me how easily duped we are to believe in something we have no proof of, has caused an abundance of divisions, and "territorialized" people into believers and non-believers. Furthermore, my belief in "God" equates to the larger perspective which includes an awareness of "God" in everything. I speculate at times whether or not consciousness is "God" So, my belief in "God" does not necessarily match up to the Christian/Judaeo tradition of a being existing somewhere in the beyond or in one's "heart". If there is a "God" he/she/it could be anywhere and in anything. Though I believe in God, it is not a belief in the God of Scripture. Too many “holes” in Scripture to satisfy my inquiring mind. It may indeed point me in the right direction but I find it not only unreliable but full of plagiaristic thought and re-writing of some of history’s interesting solutions. I much prefer to trust the minds of men and women who conjecture on the basis of what we now know of our universe than those men and women who trust the minds of ancient spiritual guides who, in turn, contributed to a book allegedly “inspired” by God. It is all unprovable, either side of this argument, but I prefer to invest most of my thinking in current ideas rather than those that show little support in logic. Do I hear an "Amen"? View all posts by Ed Anderson

2 responses to “The Warmth of Other Suns

  • Maggie

    The book is a hidden gem, probably not known by many; the lyrics you wrote depicting one of many tragic stories from the book are poetic and beautiful. It is a cry today for the anguish created by hate and fear–brutally snuffing out a dear young mans hope and dignity.Thanks for sharing.

  • Ed Anderson

    Thank you, Maggie. Your comments are appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: