When a wall goes up there’s so many ways to get to the other side. You can go over it, under it, break it down and go through it, jump it, fly it, pole vault it. Doesn’t even matter if it’s a border wall or a house wall or a city wall or a hotel wall or a wall in your head or heart. Just bust on through.
I’ve been think about this song for a long while now. Not just days and weeks and months, but years. It’s a old Carter Family tune that I first heard probably about a decade ago. Their tune is called Over the Garden Wall. Ten years ago I was thinking a lot about immigration. A lot about Mexico and all the countries south of Mexico. I wrote one called On the Banks of the Old Rio Grande. And another called Brown-skinned Woman. And I started reworking this one, replacing garden wall with border wall. Just fits good. But I must have gotten distracted or something because I never finished it or recorded it.
Who knew, 10 years later…
And, of course, now I’ve been thinking about it again. With so much talk the past months about building a damn wall between the US and Mexico how could I not. Locking people out. Locking people in. I didn’t really need to change much from the Carter Family version. I did almost changed the line “while the old feller was snoring asleep” to “while the old feller was writing a tweet” but I felt that was too easy a jab. And also only pointed a finger at one man. If a wall goes up who’s fault is it really? Some bigot elected official? Some racist sheriff? Someone else? You? Me? Has nothing been done in 10 years? In 20 years? In 200 years? Who’s fault is that?
If a wall gets built, climb it. Both ways. Then move the Statue of Liberty to the mouth of the Rio Grande and let everyone in and out.
Like a very wise man once said:
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
-Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land