25/10/16 – Ani Difranco – To The Teeth – 1999

ani-di-franco-to-the-teeth-1999-album-coverContinuing with the political theme on the run up to the American election, the track posted here is the title track from Ani Difranco’s tenth solo album and is directed at the madness of American gun culture. The song was written in the wake of the Columbine High school massacre where 12 students and a teacher were killed with a further 21 students injured. Another track Hello Birmingham deals with the murder of Doctor Barnett Slepian at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s probably not surprising to learn that you won’t find Ani Difranco on Spotify and she might be completely off your radar despite having released 20 studio albums with 23 live albums available at last count. The reason that she has little mainstream profile is that she remains fiercely independent and shuns all corporate involvement in her music, starting her own record label, Righteous Babe when she was 19. She has managed to build a large dedicated following on her own, not only through her meaningful songs but also through her support for causes and her activism (see links below).

I discovered her in the mid-nineties and on looking through the archive, I realized that I have seven of her albums, five in the studio, one live and one with Utah Phillips – all released between 1995 and 2003. Her invisibility in Europe can be the only explanation for me missing her seven albums since 2003 although admittedly I am also missing her six albums released before 1995.

This makes me realize (again) that not only do you have to support the artists you like but you also have to search them out, get on their mailing lists, read their news, because they can’t break through the media circus. Unheard gems are there, hidden below the surface, you have to dig them out of the ground, break your nails on the rocks. It’s so expensive to manufacture and release records as it is to tour with hotel and travelling costs – who has the money for publicists and promotion? How is it possible that an artist I like and have so many records by has failed to get my attention for so many years – I’m sorry Ani, I’ll try harder – as should our politicians.

The sun is setting on the century
And we are armed to the teeth
We’re all working together now
To make our lives mercifully brief

And school kids keep trying to teach us
What guns are all about
Confuse liberty with weaponry
And watch your kids act it out

And every year now like christmas
Some boy gets the milk fed suburban blues
Reaches for the available arsenal
And saunters off to make the news

And the women in the middle
Are learning what poor women have always known
That the edge is closer than you think
When your men bring guns home

And look at where the profits are
That’s how you’ll find the source
Of the big lie that you and I
Both know so well

In the time it takes this cultural
Death wish to run its course
They’re gonna to make a pretty penny
And then they’re going to hell

He said chickens all come home to roost
Yeah Malcolm forecasted the flood
Are we really going to sleep through another century
While the rich profit off our blood

And true it may take some doing
To see this undoing through
But in my humble opinion
Here’s what I suggest we do

Open fire on Hollywood
Open fire on MTV
Open fire on NBC and CBS and ABC

Open fire on the NRA
And all the lies they told us along the way
Open fire on each weapons manufacturer
While he’s giving head to some republican senator

And if I hear one more time
About a fools right to his tools of rage
I’m gonna take all my friends
And I’m going to move to Canada
And we’re going to die of old age