Note:  This challenge went live on Inauguration Day 2017.




This is the 37th song I’ve written for SpinTunes.  And in our community, across all of those songs, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation.  I’m the guy who can find the grayest of gray areas.  I’m the guy who can cozy right up to the line . . . but never actually cross it.  I’m the guy who tugs on all the letters of the law -- sometimes literally (see also:  ST4R3).  I’m the guy who, time-and-again, seems to be right on the verge of disqualification for not meeting the challenge . . . except for the fact that I actually did, technically . . . very technically . . . meet the challenge.



No such concerns this time.  I’m DQ’d.  I’m intentionally DQ’d.  It’s 7:34 in the morning on January 21st, 2017, the challenge went up less than 12 hours ago, and I haven’t yet composed a single note, but I’m telling you -- I’m DQ’d.


I know exactly what song I’m going to write.  And it’s not going to meet the challenge.  But I don’t care.


I have something more important to say instead.




I am a twenty-year veteran teacher.  I’ve taught students from second grade through senior math in high school.  I quite literally teach our future.  And going to school on the morning of November 9th, 2016, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  In my entire career, I have never taken a sick day -- but I seriously considered taking a sick day that morning, simply to give myself another 24 hours to prepare what I might say, or to figure out how I might steel myself to face the faces of our future when I had suddenly had my ability to somewhat confidently predict the future stripped from me.


My country had just elected to its highest office a despicable, deplorable, bully of a man . . . through a perplexing coalition of people which included those who honestly reveled in his vision, those who hoped that his fulsome stain would somehow be eclipsed or offset by gains to their agenda, and people who simply harbored disproportionate levels of hatred for his alternative.


I had already written a song [ST2R2] that raised the point that our national anthem doesn’t triumphantly trumpet a proclamation, but rather eternally poses a question.  That morning, I did not know . . . could not know . . . whether the flag in my classroom -- the flag towards which I’m legally expected to lead my class in a pledge of allegiance every day -- would still be flying over the same kind of a county on January 21st, 2017 as that country had been before.  But I did know that I would be confronted with the task of looking into the eyes of the student who the day before had written to me, on a tiny slip of paper she had torn from the corner of her writing page, “I am sad because if Trump wins my hole family has to go back were they were from.”


I still carry that note with me.



Seven hundred miles away, one of the composers I admire most was wrestling with similar emotions.  Amazingly enough, he was able to crystallize those thoughts into a profoundly sincere and healing song that very same day.  (I played that song many, many, many, many times that week, and in the weeks the followed . . .)

This changes everything.


Many of you have expressed reservations

About President Trump’s personality,

Communication style,

And even about some unanswered questions

About the presidential campaign

Before the election.


But this changes everything.


After [The Events] of [The Date],

It’s time for all Americans

To come together

And help support our nation

In the face of this unprecedented [Event]

Caused by [Antagonist].


It’s time to set aside our differences

And support President Trump

In [Response to Event].

It’s time to join once again as Americans,

Under God,

To protect our nation and our way of life.


This changes everything.


God Bless America.





(See Also:)

        O! Say Can You See?

        What About Love?

        (Vows)

        A Brave New World

        I Was There

        Born of Hate

        Two Views



#resist


As a songwriter, over the last two and a half months I’ve had the desire to create my own response to the election.  But with Jason Robert Brown’s effort as a benchmark, I’ve never quite figured out how.  I aspire to be positive.  I aspire to hope.  But my disgust and my wariness and my highly-attuned detector for all things ironical are still rather sizable impediments to that goal.


Then -- two days before Inauguration Day -- I saw an Audra McDonald tweet that referenced yet another tweet from Elliott Lusztig (which may or may not have referenced someone else’s writing).  It struck me as possibly being the kernel of a song.  Not a positive song of hope -- more a song of foreboding and warning -- but a song nonetheless.


And then -- two days later, on Inauguration Day -- I’m told to write an election-related song.



To be fair -- we were given options.  We could write from the point of view of either the winner or the loser.  It could be recent or historical.  It could be a real election or a fictional one.  It could be a political election or non-political.


Didn’t matter.


I wasn’t going to create some fictional election when the consequences of a real election were looming so large.  I wasn’t going to mine the annals of history for some other interesting election when there were comments to be made on this one.  And I wasn’t going to try to find some other election-related song to write when I felt the compelling urge that this election-related song needed to be written.



So it’s now 8:48 in the morning on January 21st, 2017, the challenge went up just over 12 hours ago, and I’m telling you that I’m going to write the song I want to write.  As one of my friends wrote about my in another context in another SpinTunes, “Edric is a honeybadger.  Edric don’t care.”



The funny thing is?  After I chose the course I was going to chart, I went back and reread the challenge . . . and actually worried that I might still be able to squeeze my song into the gray area!  My brain started to realize that “point of view” could be interpreted more than one way.  My brain started to consider the different interpretations of the words “someone who.”  It started to work on the word “just” . . .



No.



Here’s why I’m going to be disqualified:



This song is going to be delivered by a spokesperson for the person who won the election -- not the person himself.


This song is not going to be a “point-of-view” song -- it’s going to be a formal announcement.


I am not going to change a word that Elliott Lusztig tweeted at 2:31 a.m. on January 16th, 2017This song will not have original lyrics from me.


The song will be whatever length it needs to be.  But if there comes a point where I find I can make it wrap it up short of the 2:00 minimum SpinTunes requirement and still have it say what it needs to say, I will.




The same friend who called me a honeybadger in ST10R4 also wrote this after ST5R1:  “I’ve often said that I prefer it when people hit songwriting challenges squarely.  And that’s true, to a point.  It’s what I consider to be very solid craftsmanship.  But I think I’ve done people a disservice by not saying before now that there is an exception, which is when craftsmanship gives way to artistry.  In other words, hitting the challenge squarely is best ... unless you’ve got something better to say.  In which case, you should meet the challenge, and stress the better thing.”



This is like that.  Only this time I’m choosing to forgo the challenge entirely.



I have something more important to say instead.





Edited to add:  It is now 7:36 a.m. on January 22nd, 2017.  We’ve now gotten to listen to Sean Spicer come out and angrily upbraid the press while fudging facts to try to protect Trump’s fragile image.  He even went so far as to try to redirect the press’ focus to Trump’s priorities (“That’s what you guys should be writing and covering...”).


I have decided something else about my song that will disqualify me even further.  Musically, I will simply arrange “The Star Spangled Banner.”  This song will not have original music from me, either.  (Not even an original melody line or descant superimposed above it, as I did in ST4R1...)


In this way, the song will subtextually ask the question, “Say -- does our flag still wave o’er a land of freedom (including for women, blacks, Latinos/Latinas, Muslims, LBGTQ+ people, and the press) and bravery (including that shown by women, blacks, Latinos/Latinas, Muslims, LBGTQ+ people . . . and please, please, please, the press).”