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VIDEO: “Motherless Child 2018” by The Front Porch Lights
NOTES: President Trump and his cabal lit a firestorm in America in June 2018  with their “family separation” policy at the country’s southern border. (Well, it only really came to widespread light then. The Houston Chronicle has been covering the brewing crisis for awhile.) I have dutifuly tweeted and re-tweeted the most pungent quotes and coverage from righteous outlets I admire and rabbis who speak truth to power, among others.

But then I figured I could do a little more. I got out my tools from my career communications kit: songcraft and videosmithing. Here’s the result, a music video by the newly made-up band The Front Porch Lights (actually,  me and my guitar, multitracked and tweaked a score of times). Perdóname, you native or accomplished Spanish speakers, if my Google Translate-powered Spanish verse is not quite as felicitous as it might be.

I would like to believe “the So-Called President” (to quote my spouse in her more gracious moments) has seen the light with his newly announced Executive Order ending the family separation practice. But Malcolm Gladwell needs to add a new chapter to his masterpiece, because it sure seems like we have passed innumerable tipping points — and nothing has tipped yet in Trumpistan. He’s an outlier of outrage.

“Motherless Child” (or “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”) is a public domain traditional Negro spiritual, to borrow from the song’s Wikipedia page. So, it  fits perfectly in this moment in American history. As the page goes on to note: “The song is clearly an expression of pain and despair as it conveys the hopelessness of a child who has been torn from her or his parents.” But it also has a tinge of hope to it, the author of the entry notes, as it is just “sometimes” I feel like a motherless child, implying the hope of reuniting mother and child (and father and child) remains the promise buried in the lament.

Indeed. Join the fray. Here is a list of groups working to reunite kids separated from parents at the border: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder

HERE ARE MY REWORKED  LYRICS
(Feel free to cover the song, as noted below):
NOTE: The music video version is played with a capo at the first fret

“Motherless Child 2018,” adapted by Douglas Imbrogno:

Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Am                                                                     Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
C                               B7
taken from her hands
C                              B7
I do not understand!
C                                    B7                                 Em              B7
Why did you just yank me from her hands?

Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child…
Sleeping on a mat,
Wondering where’s he’s at.
Curled up all alone upon this mat.

Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
Sometimes I feel like we’re already gone.
I know that can’t be right… Turn on your front porch light…

A welcome in the middle of the night.

A veces me siento como un niño sin mama
A veces me siento como un niño sin mama
A veces me siento como un niño sin mama…
Tomado de sus manos
No! No entiendo!
¿Por qué me arrancaste de sus manos?

Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
Sometimes I feel like a country-less child.
A-wandering in the night.
I can see your front porch light!
Will you leave me lonely in the night?

Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Em                                           Am                   Em       Em
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially. My hope is other musicians may add solos to the instrumental parts or singers add harmony parts — and re-release their version into the wilds of their own social networks.  If you would like to download just the song itself, click over to my Soundcloud page for a free download. Add your own instruments and voice and re-release the song.  

Or just pass the music video on.
Thanks for listening.

PS: Two words:
Remember / November

PSS: For DIY music video geeks, a note. I have long since lost patience with complex new programs. This song and video were cobbled together with spit and baling wire, using a Yeti Blue microphone (I adore the midnight blue one I just bought at Best Buy), Garageband and Final Cut Pro. And coffee.

PSSS: Thanks to the creative shooters at Unsplash.com (hang around for the video’s credit roll) for some remarkable photography, especially the several stirring shots of the Statue of Liberty. May she ever welcome immigrants. (She certainly welcomed my family, including some tough-as-nails Italians.)

Photo by Wellington Rodrigues | Courtesy Unsplash.com