Louder Than Weapons – The Project with Audie Cornish

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By Calvin S. Nelson

I did not assume we would be doing one other episode a couple of mass taking pictures so quickly. However right here we’re.

Mayor John Cooper


As a group.

That is from a vigil in Nashville.

Mayor John Cooper


Thanks to our artists for sharing the present of music. You’re the custodians of that particular present.

I have been to this place, and I do not imply some type of memorial after a mass taking pictures, however Nashville particularly. I lived there for a couple of years protecting the South, and it isn’t a giant metropolis. It is dominant industries of music and publishing could make it really feel even smaller, like everybody is aware of everybody. So when First Woman Jill Biden visited the town to attend a vigil for the taking pictures victims of the Covenant College, it was an absolute given {that a} nation music artist could be there.

Will the circle be unbroken?

By and by, Lord, by and by.

That is Ketch Secor, founding member of the Grammy Award profitable band Outdated Crow Drugs Present. I did not even get an introduction on the vigil, however that is as a result of everybody within the crowd already is aware of who he’s, not only a well-known musician, however a member of their group and a mother or father of two college aged children. In actual fact, the varsity his children attend in East Nashville, he co-founded it in 2016. It is known as the Episcopal College of Nashville.

So I am carrying two totally different hats right here when a faculty taking pictures occurs in our city. It is each as a mother or father and it is as someone who’s on the opposite aspect of the choose up line as nicely. When a rustic singer will get off the highway, likelihood is at 8:00 within the morning on Monday after the massive weekend, that man or gal is in line dropping their child off at a faculty in Nashville, Tennessee. In terms of your property, it is totally different.

And the sky lowered within the sky.

Ketch Secor lately wrote an op ed for The New York Instances that caught our consideration. It was titled Nation Music Can Lead America Out of its Obsession with Weapons. In it, he requires nation musicians to talk candidly to their audiences about gun tradition. I needed to have him on the present to speak about that op ed, like, can nation music actually assist lead the U.S. out of a gun debate? And what are the stakes for a musician within the style if they really take a stand? And what’s it prefer to stay on the middle of all of it as a mother or father, educator and musician in Nashville, Tennessee? That is the task. I am Audie Cornish.

The taking pictures on the Covenant College type of prompted you to put in writing an op ed for The New York Instances. However can you are taking me again to that day just a little bit? The place had been you if you heard it occurring?

Certain it was on Monday, two weeks in the past, and it was at 10:13 within the morning. I received a textual content message from our faculty legal professional saying, I am so sorry, and I had no thought what was occurring. And prayer hand emoji is fascinating.

So getting an emoji like that or getting the compulsory “are you okay” that all of us begin to ship one another now when there is a taking pictures, particularly at a faculty, you are saying it it hits you in a spot of what? Panic. Worry. What? What do you’re feeling?

It is. It is all of the above. It is. It is your children. It is another person’s children. , the top of faculty was murdered. The connections between our faculty are very current, and it is as a group member in Nashville, this stunning realization. Oh, this factor that occurs in different cities has come to our city. And it is come not simply to our city, however to our youngsters, to our the place that’s most sacred.

And even to your nook of that world, Proper? Prefer it did not occur at a public college. It did not occur at a giant college. It occurred at basically a small Christian major college. Proper. Which is what you what you based one, proper? It had connections.

Yeah. And our colleges are very totally different in that regard and serve totally different populations. Nevertheless, it you recognize, we’re all the identical. We’re all each college, public, non-public, constitution, each stripe is within the enterprise of believing that youngsters are our future and should be stewarded and beloved on and guided. And, you recognize, that is an actual elemental precept for me.

Can I ask, how previous are your children and do they go to the varsity you based?

Yeah, they do. They usually’re 9 and 11.

So did the varsity you based this Episcopal college, did it go into lockdown? Form of what what did you you all need to do because of this?

No, the colleges adjoining to Covenant did, however the others in Nashville didn’t. And so the factor I feel that was so unhappy that first day was the message that went out saying your kids haven’t but been notified. The workers is aware of, the lecturers know, everyone is aware of, all of the mother and father know, everyone is aware of however the children. And we’ll discuss it tomorrow. However we needed to provide the probability to speak about it first. So in case you can think about a choose up line, anyone who’s who’s been via a faculty taking pictures of their group is aware of, you recognize, the choose up line that first day is filled with tears.

Proper. And for individuals who aren’t conversant in how large ups and drop offs work today in colleges, there’s a line proper, the place like there are type of they’re chaperoning your child the actually to the curb and also you choose them up. There’s not identical to wandering out of the constructing the place I feel in case you had been a child within the nineties is what you grew up with. Yeah, it is hand handy move off.

That is proper, Audie. You will need to have children.

Properly, the juxtaposition of youngsters stuffed with vibrant pleasure and life and oldsters stuffed with grief and unhappiness coming collectively. This assembly to me was very highly effective.

Which means you are standing on the curb ready to get your child. However each mother or father’s face is simply drawn.

And each mother or father is each trainer and simply, you recognize, holding again tears as is each trainer. However each youngster continues to really feel very protected. And but everyone knows as mother and father that no youngster is protected any longer as a result of this tragedy is in our yard. It is come to Nashville, it is come to us, to our youngsters.

I suppose I need to begin possibly with Wagon Wheel, as a result of if individuals go to look you up, that is perhaps the primary music they find out about. And also you even write about it on this op ed. Inform me just a little bit about the place you had been in your profession if you wrote this.

Certain. Properly, Wagon Wheel is my most profitable music.

Headed down South to the Land of the Pines. I am coming my strategy to North Carolina, staring up.

And it is a collaboration with Bob Dylan. I wrote it once I was about 17, going to highschool up in New England in a prep college known as Exeter, and I used to be had simply realized to play the banjo up there.

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel. Rock me mama, any method you’re feeling. Hey mama rock me

You discuss the concept your finest identified music, Wagon Wheel, is commonly blasting out of a truck, so to talk, that has an NRA sticker. And also you point out this particularly, and I need you to speak about why.

While you make the type of music that I make with a fiddle and a banjo and concord singing and a specific model of songwriting, you are participating in a group that is perhaps totally different than your personal form of background, and it isn’t. Properly, there is a prepare going by proper now. That is form of proof..

I keep in mind the prepare. Yeah.

The trains are at all times going by in Nashville.

Simply received to maintain it occurring the podcast. It’s going to add just a little little bit of shade and speaks to what I am speaking about. , the trains are going by. The vehicles have NRA stickers. , once I was a child, there have been Accomplice flags in all places. That is The South, y’all. It is totally different than the opposite components of the nation now, for higher or for worse. However it’s what it’s.

And if you’re round Nashville and you’ve got political conversations, wherever the individual falls on the spectrum, inevitably somebody makes use of that phrase, Properly, that is The South.

Like, that is imagined to cowl a variety of issues.

Yeah. And whether or not it is imagined to be that method or, you recognize, I feel we’re in a state of appreciable development down south, however the vestiges stay, and so they’re vital to speak about on this regard, as a result of one of many vestiges is gun tradition, and it is largely thought of just like the insurgent flag up to now, simply one thing that exists right here. Take care of it, y’all. When in truth, we now have at all times had the facility to drop the insurgent flag. There’s one vestige that has been challenged successfully.

And effected change in a method, or a minimum of elevate the type of societal stakes participating in sure language.

Completely. And so I see the change in gun tradition is rather like one other step in direction of The South’s evolution.

To my thoughts, nation, Americana, these genres so carefully align with their audiences. It’s totally very similar to hip-hop, like individuals in hip-hop speak in regards to the tradition and their ties to the music, and the music ties to fairly actually the id of the individuals listening. And nation feels very a lot the identical method. However because of this, it has a variety of like guidelines. , there is a couple traces you they individuals do not such as you to step out of. Are you able to discuss how that performs out in fashionable nation?

Certain. Properly, as we speak’s nation singer won’t come from The South and is faculty educated. So that they are in has already modified the stereotype of who sings nation music. , it is it isn’t coal miners anymore. The coal miner’s daughter like all of us love Loretta, however that is not who’s on primary proper now. In order that a part of it has modified quite a bit. However what hasn’t modified a lot are the attitudes of the viewers.

Which to be clear. The nation music viewers is also wealthier and are determination makers and our typically managers, there’s been form of like a variety of analysis into many people who find themselves within the viewers, and the viewers in all probability seems to be just a little totally different than individuals anticipate as nicely.

Properly, I did not know to enter this, however however I am excited that we’re, Audie, as a result of, you recognize, nation music actually particularly, and to make clear, modern nation music on the radio is an actual protected house for us to not discuss political divisiveness and never discuss issues of of substance. However as a substitute we’re all form of studying the Pulp Fiction collectively. And it is it is

Which is why it is widespread, proper? I imply, in the course of the pandemic, I heard the expansion of listening to the music or streaming possibly was up 15%. It was larger than another style.

Folks welcome that protected house.

Journey story. It is you recognize, it’s extremely a lot tales, intergenerational household tales. That is the type of stuff that goes primary is the music about grandpa and what man he was and the way if we might be just a little bit extra like him, then the world could be a greater place. So this form of, you recognize, hallmark type of these beliefs which are tossed round won’t be that sensible for as we speak’s actuality of, you recognize, I labored I am a part of a worldwide financial system working two jobs. And, you recognize, I am hoping my children are going to go get out of state tuition or no matter. And but we nation music actually offers in nostalgia. And that nostalgia is a an vital antidote to the entire ache that one can witness within the click on of a mouse.

Proper. So how does gun. Tradition work together with that nostalgia, storytelling, since you’re saying in a method that that is constructed into the music, too.

Johnny Money singing I Shot a Man in Reno to Watch Him Die. Hank Jr Singing about. Yeah, I would prefer to spit some seaside nut in that dude’s eye and shoot him with my previous 45 as a result of a rustic boy can survive. It is a strategy to for nation music to retain authority in a altering world. And guns–

However do you hear it within the fashionable music? Are there? You do not have to select any artist. However do individuals nonetheless discuss that?

No, Audie. And that is the factor. We do not discuss weapons. If we do, it is a music about I took my boy attempting to find the primary time. It is once more, dealing within the nostalgia. What it isn’t saying is I’ve received an AR-15 in my assortment. However the actuality is that many, many listeners do. And but it is a protected house the place they aren’t confronted by the music to a altering actuality. As a substitute, they’re allowed to say, I taught my youngster how you can, you recognize, I imply, once I was a child within the eighties, like I went hen hunt with Dad, I realized how you can fireplace a weapon. I realized how you can clear a weapon. These items are vital to the ways in which gun tradition generally is a optimistic, however the protected house is that we’re not speaking about what it means in as we speak’s America. As a substitute, we’re just about hanging in yesterday’s.

So what’s it like for artists reminiscent of your self to lift this challenge?

Folks hold saying, thanks for being courageous. And I am like. who’s courageous is the child that pulled the hearth alarm, you recognize, within the hallway beneath gunfire in our city in a faculty, a child that was a 3rd grader. Now, that is courageous. All I am doing is simply I am a singer and I’ll sing in regards to the stuff that is actual. I am a author, and I’ll inform what I see.

I do not need to learn an excessive amount of into the zoom, however I. Are you getting emotional speaking about that?

Oh, yeah. I imply, I have been I have been crying for 2 weeks, ya’ll, prefer it’s… When this involves your city and so they bury the identical age child as yours. After which after which, like, whereas the graves are nonetheless recent, the information cycle strikes on to Stormy Daniels, and that is the fact. It is like, Good God, the place will we stay? What will we not care about children in any respect? It is simply over. So that is my method of claiming it isn’t over and it will not be over till these deaths, these three deaths of American kids gunned down within the third grade, till they imply one thing, that is when it will be over.

Extra with Ketch Secor in only a second.

You’re demanding a brand new type of motion come out of the south. And that it partially be led by people who find themselves cultural figures as nicely, not simply politicians, individuals reminiscent of your self. Why do you assume it may make a distinction?

Properly, I feel that Nashville stands uniquely poised to steer a response to the varsity taking pictures epidemic.

However why do you assume that? Proper? We simply watched the Tennessee State Home expel two members as a result of that they had a protest associated to gun coverage. Expel, not censure, not reprimand. Attempt to kick them out. So what what to your thoughts leads you to assume that?

Properly, Nashville, although the state legislature is what it’s, Nashville is a really progressive metropolis. And I am not saying that Tennessee goes to cleared the path. I am saying Nashville.

Yeah, however is not that the powerful half? If in all these states and it isn’t simply Tennessee, you’ve got received these blue cities, these little blue dots in a sea of pink, and by pink I imply very conservative, very pro-gun, pro-Second Modification legislatures. This seems like an uphill battle. What you are calling for.

And I do know it is value it. I do not need to as a result of everyone knows it is value it. However I need I need to perceive why you assume nation musicians are in any method uniquely positioned to have this dialog.

Properly, and I need to I recognize you difficult this Audie. Very first thing I need to say is that altering segregation was an uphill battle in Tennessee. And and when Nashville within the early Nineteen Sixties, within the late Fifties stated its first foot ahead, this was the proving floor, different components of the South had been too unsafe. However individuals gathered in Nashville, a metropolis of schools, a metropolis of progressive thought within the South to have interaction in nonviolent civil disobedience. That is the place John Lewis got here. That is the place the Freedom Riders first cease was.

Their trainings, proper, with James Lawson and at Vanderbilt.

All of that coaching at Fisk and Vanderbilt occurred proper right here in Nashville, Tennessee. That reveals our capacity as a as a group to exist outdoors of the state. Now, identical to in that point, the state legislator stated, what are you speaking about? That is not going to occur in our state. We solid the deciding vote on on girls’s suffrage. I imply, Tennessee has been a bellwether place in these two different situations of nice significance. That is the third. That is the a part of the loss of life knell of the previous South, which goes to have to alter. , 50 years from now I feel we’ll be trying again at these couple of years because the deciding time for a assault weapons ban in the USA.

Once more, I need to convey it to the query about nation music artists, particularly mainstream ones who given what we all know in regards to the music, primary, have been socially punished for activism by what we name Music Row, by music radio, by nation music radio specifically, which nonetheless has a really type of sturdy grip in a method programmers do, and even latest historical past. Proper. When you concentrate on the Dixie Chicks, and so forth., their entire story is a narrative of being ostracized for his or her activism.

, for a man like me, I am not beholden to too many individuals in any respect, however I am not a mainstream. I am not on the Jumbotron, you recognize, I am not on the awards present with the highest ten performers of the 12 months.

Do you want these individuals for the motion you are speaking about?

They’ve a very far attain and the facility to speed up an inevitable motion to alter this for our youngsters. And I am asking them via this piece and likewise head to head in my group, via conversations of textual content. , I’ve reached out to so many singers up to now two weeks.

And what sort of textual content you ship.

Hey, I am simply reaching out to all my Nashville music group within the wake of the taking pictures and sharing this story that I wrote that got here out as we speak in The Instances. Should you get a sec, please have a look.

What’s been essentially the most optimistic response? What’s been essentially the most irritating one?

Essentially the most irritating one is silence. I say within the op ed piece that I feel silence is complicity. I went into the studio and I and I recorded a brand new music on the topic. Because the taking pictures, which is just two weeks in the past there have been so some ways to be engaged with this horrible story, and it is highly effective answer.

I imply, the explanation why I am asking is as a result of your op ed stated one thing fairly particular, proper? That there are artists who’re drained at being on the type of mercy of the whims of fearmongers, you stated, and that they are prepared to talk to an impressionable viewers. And since different genres, like we talked about hip hop earlier or pop, they do wade into societal points. They are often confrontational about politics. It isn’t like there is not a mannequin on the market. So I suppose what wouldn’t it take, do you assume, for individuals in your trade? To begin to do one thing comparable, which is which is, in impact, what you are calling for.

It’s starting and it is, I feel, in its infancy, nevertheless it’s already began.

And so it is about fanning the flames and constructing a giant bonfire out of what is already crackling kindling. For instance, we have got a profit live performance right here in Nashville that helps Covenant College. And if you take a look at the the roster, who’s on the marquee, it isn’t the standard Americana people who at all times say, you recognize, we stand with children, we rise up towards gun violence. As a substitute, it is primary chart toppers. They’re there. They’ve put their hat into the ring.

However is it as a result of it is is it going to be a protected house from politics? If it is a second of a memorial, is that what makes it okay for a giant artist to be there? Proper. As a result of no person’s going to stand up and say we must always have gun management.

There’s nothing however up right here as a result of we we now have began on the very baseline the place music popping out of Nashville on the radio says nothing about violence towards kids in our colleges or about the necessity to rethink the kinds of weaponry that’s related to the Second Modification. Kelsea Ballerini talked about it on an award present. These are the sorts of issues that when someone takes one step and the motion can shortly comply with it, then the subsequent step is not as laborious to make. And what I am asking for is that subsequent step. , I’ve gotten a variety of suggestions from my viewers. And like I say in an op ed piece, you recognize, I see the NRA sticker on the again of lot of vehicles blaring in my tunes. So, you recognize, and we’re out on the highway with Hank Jr. this summer time. So, I imply, I am I am used to taking part in to an viewers that’s our nation folks. However I really like my nation folks viewers. And I and I need to have the ability to be actual with them. I can transfer freely in each of the areas that the 2 large silos within the nation. Like, I would go to work in a single silo and are available dwelling and the opposite one. And I am good with that as a result of I really like these individuals.

What’s your message to these artists who’re simply nonetheless very reluctant?

Nation music has an amazing future in these instances to swing out previous the fences which have corralled it in so tightly. That I imagine on this style. And I imagine that it has the facility to hold that fact. , it’s extremely a lot rooted in a gospel custom of of the lamentation, the calling out to the nice spirits. Assist us, Lord. We’re simply your kids. We do not know shit. We’re we’re dying down right here. Assist!

Are you able to speak in regards to the music that you have written out of this second?

New materials? , usually, identical to I am in a songwriting temper right here, I am in a a second in time with a variety of totally different alternatives as a author to have interaction on this, whether or not it is, you recognize, writing the proper caption for {a photograph} on Instagram or writing an op ed piece for The New York Instances or being on this podcast with you, Audie. There’s so some ways to decide on my phrases proper now and try to have them be resonant for the ache that we’re feeling in Nashville, Tennessee and across the nation as a result of we’re simply so drained, mother and father, that our youngsters aren’t protected of their colleges. What meaning for me as a songwriter is that I even have the prospect to put in writing new music about this and to place my cash the place my mouth is. So I received a brand new music that is popping out known as Louder Than Weapons. That is yeah, I simply recorded it two days in the past.

Give me a way of the tune or lyrics.

Properly, gosh, I really feel like I should not even introduced it up as a result of it is so…anytime you get a you recognize, individuals are cagey about their new stuff!

You are coping with a dude that wept via the entire songwriting course of. Let me sing it for you.

All proper. awoke this morning. It was Groundhog Day. I noticed the identical black veil on a crying face and a flag flying half method. This time it was individuals I do know gunned down in a minute or so. Solely God is aware of when it will cease. However ideas and prayers ain’t sufficient. Louder than weapons. Extra highly effective than bullets flying. Is the voice rising up saying it is about time to place the final nail within the coffin, put the final physique within the floor, calling on each city, shout. Louder than weapons There is a legislation on a dusty scroll.

Ketch Secor is the daddy of two children in Nashville, Tennessee. He is additionally a singer, songwriter and founding member of the band Outdated Crow Drugs Present.

Now The Project is a manufacturing of CNN Audio. Our producers are Madeleine Thompson,Jennifer Lai, Lori Galarreta, Carla Javier, and Dan Bloom. Our affiliate producers are Isoke Samuel and Allison Park. Our senior producers are Matt Martinez and Haley Thomas. Dan Dzula is our technical director. Steve Lickteig is our govt producer. Particular due to Katie Hinman. I am Audie Cornish and thanks for listening.

I am the louder than weapons. oooooo. Louder than weapons. I do not need to get up on one other Groundhog Day. No, I do not need to hear one other rat a tat tat tat echoed down the hallway. Freedom’s simply one other phrase for letting each voice be heard, each coronary heart, each hand. Each city take a stand. Louder than weapons. Extra highly effective than bullets flying. Is the voice rising up, saying it is about rattling time. We put the final nail within the coffin. We put the final physique within the floor. I am calling on each city. Louder than weapons.

Sending that one out to Louisville as we speak.

Ketch, thanks a lot for sharing that with us.

Yeah, we received. We received to. We received to do it, y’all.

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