Tag Archives: immigration

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?