Here’s your part – “American Hearts” by Piebald

Check out the song above while reading below. Thanks!

Punk rock. Or “punk rawk” as I used to spell it during the time when the genre frequented my ears. In those days of anger and questing betwixt 12-13 years of age, I had spiked hair, a skateboard, a thick chain necklace, and would have rallied around a ‘fight the system’ mentality without even being able to tell you what that meant or which system it was that I wanted to fight. At this stage, my developing sense of music appreciation resonated almost exclusively with the immediate sound of a song. My rave musical reviews probably consisted of statements like, “That drummer is awesome” or “When the guitars do that middly-middly thing at the end…it’s really good”. Nothing unusual there. There are many songs to this day that I appreciate for similar reasons. Essentially, if it gave me goosebumps, I was hooked.

It was only until later that I started noticing and weighing a song’s value based on its meaning. Although there are fabulous composers out there who can convey volumes of meaning through sound alone, lyrics are often a direct revelation of the songwriter’s intent.

Piebald’s “American Hearts” is one of those songs that I had heard a few times back in those early teen years. When I stumbled across this song via a Spotify rabbit-trail last week, listening to it was akin to plugging a pair of headphones into my 15-years-younger subconscious. I heard the anthemic voclas and the aggressive wall of guitars and drums. I saw my over-gelled and spiked hair, heard the calamity of my high school hallways, and felt the mysterious, unwieldy angst of youth in my chest. But I heard something new this time around: a message. My history was lecturing to me. It was as though a “you’ll-understand-this-when-you’re-older” concept from some long-forgotten lesson that fell on my youthfully deaf ears had decided I was ready to catch its meaning:

“Hey! You’re part of it.
Who? Me?

“Yeah! You’re part of it.”
Part of what? I don’t understand.

“This country is unequal still”
Yes, I have heard that. It’s tragic. But why are you telling me?

“History continues itself…”
But surely our current problems are different than those of our ancestors? Haven’t we come such a long way as a society?

“History continues itself…”
OK maybe so. The human race continues to destroy itself while clambering for money, status, and power. Slavery is illegal but racism is still alive in midst. We remember the genocides of history but the hatred that fueled them still lingers in the shadows of our society. Someone should really do something about that and fix our community.

“Hey! You’re part of it.”

And here’s the rub: You’re part of it. I’m part of it. All of us are parts of a community, a country, and a global human race. There are problems and graces to be found at each level and to greater or lesser degrees, we’re part of those as well by our awareness and advocacy or lack thereof. The state of the whole is determined by the state of its component parts.

And so at this present age, when I have much to say about the conditions of my community, this relic from my youth returns to shake me by the collar to remind me that there is no convenient middle ground of detached neutrality. With its refraining question, I am called to account for how I have utilized my sphere of influence and whether I am satisfied with how my decisions, compounded with similar ones made by billions of others, have impacted society. 

Be encouraged. You have far more influence than you think you do. Use it effectively and others will be notice. Eventually, you may be emulated and that influence will spread. May we never fail to include ourselves on the grand list of items that, if changed even just a little, could make the world a better place. After all, you’re part of it.

If a big change in the world is due,
The world needs a little change in you

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