If you know me or follow this blog, you know this:

1. I am not an earnest Greenwich Village folk singer from the early '60s.

2. I'm often silly and sarcastic.

3. I can veer from hopeful to hopeless to hopeful again every 20 minutes, or in-between laundry loads.

I'm probably not the kind of person you would expect to write a song criticizing another state's controversial legislation.

Thanks to inspiration provided by Martin Cizmar of the Phoenix publication New Times, I wrote a song called "How Can You Tell?" and finished it up a few days ago. At the end of April, Cizmar published a call for local musicians against SB 1070 (the infamous new Arizona immigration law, set to take effect later in the summer) to rally 'round and submit new anti-SB-1070 protest songs to be compiled into a charity download/CD set. Now, you might be saying right about now, HEY MARIANNE, and I would be saying HEY WUT, and you would be saying HEY YOU DON'T LIVE IN ARIZONA WHAT ARE YOU DOING MARIANNE, and I would be saying YEAH I KNOW MAN BUT I USED TO LIVE THERE, and you would be saying WELL THAT WAS A LONG-ASS TIME AGO, and I would be saying YEAH I KNOW BUT I STILL WANTED TO SAY WHAT I WANTED TO SAY NOW GET ME SOME DAMN COFFEE. And maybe you would, and I would continue writing this post.

I got to thinking about what Cizmar had said, and wondered, hmmmmmmmmm, could I do that? I've never really done anything like that before. Could I say how I felt about SB 1070 in a song? I've written twice about it here already, but songs are by necessity more precise. You don't have much time to get your message across, and there is a very fine line to walk with a protest/political song between stating your beliefs and bleeding your heart all across the floor. I had to consider carefully what was at the heart of my opposition to the law, and why I felt so strongly that it was not just an Arizona issue, it was an American issue.

The music came first, working in Garage Band sitting in my CAR waiting for Mr12 to finish his martial arts class. I kept working on it after the kids were fed, homework done, and then in bed, until I had a sound I really liked: dirty, hot, cut-up, jittery. I just had no idea how to approach the words or the melody, other than I thought they both needed to be very simple.

How can you tell
Who to send back to hell
How do you know
Looks like stay looks like go

How can you say
Not your race, a straight face
How can you see
X-ray eyes, quota to meet

How can you claim
Not your face not your name
How do you make
Half your state now half-rate

How can you tell
Who to send back to hell
How can you tell
Who to send back to hell.

I took my laptop and my Blue Snowball mic and hightailed it into my bedroom closet to do the vocals, the quietest room in the house. I pressed the little red record button and just hoped a melodic idea would come out. I listened back once, then did the same for a harmony line and called it done, and sent it over to Martin Cizmar, mainly just to say, I heard you and thanks and well here you go. It's hard to be an Arizona resident against SB 1070 sitting in a state that is receiving so very much negativity now throughout the world, getting blamed and sanctioned by others.

Cizmar very kindly quoted some of my email to him, and posted the song on New Times, which is way cool. I am looking forward to hearing "A Line In The Sand," and I encourage you to support it as well. I hope "How Can You Tell?" can land somewhere helpful, even if in the most modest way.

So that's the story behind the usually-unearnest Seattle garage sort-of-musician from 2010 who came to write a protest song. (Here's the vid link for Open Salon folks, and a million thanks to WN for the many hours spent on Sony Vegas for the video.) Viva!