six'n'drum (the divide widens)

i was 12 years old when i first heard the call of the drum
ancient echoes from the unknown
considering my stillborn suburban upbringing

the drum gave me reason to live
a vibration an echo an understanding
seed sound at the heart of creation
knowledge beyond meager existence

the drum placed fire in my belly
pushed beyond the known
opening world i didn't know existed

but as i speak this i must ask -
is it the drum or the drummer?
the message or the messenger?

can i tell you i cried when Tony Williams died?
and about the time we drove 480 miles to Tucson to meet Paul Lytton
and how i shaved my head after i first saw Joey Baron, just to look like him
how i bought Gerry Hemingway new drumsticks when he told me he was running out
and how surprised Fritz Hauser was when i told him i transcribed Traumbilder
and how much it meant to me when Han Bennink shook my hand

is it foolhardy to say that the drum controls the music
the music controls the culture
the culture controls the people?
you see, my father wouldn't agree
he lives by the creed that all art is an escape from everyday life
therefore meaningless

he never listened to his childhood heroes when they asked
to give peace a chance or spoke of ohio
he never asked why they played the star spangled banner

but wise men have always known
that music leads all social change
and the drum leads the way

in the west, the drum has its function -
people fuck to the drum
and the drum leads men to battle

the drum is more than something to lead men to death
the drum is ritual
the drum is spirit
the drum is life

i wasn't born when Woodie Guthrie sang This Land Is Your Land
or when Bob Dylan sang Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues
but i was 14 years old when i heard revolution calling
i was 15 years old when I heard Chuck D speak of black power and Flavor Flav say "picture us coolin out on the 4th of july, and if you heard we was celebrating that's a world wide lie"
i was 16 when Ryan Cid came to school one day with a Rage Against The Machine t-shirt
i was 18 when i heard John Coltrane play Alabama
i was 20 when i heard Max Roachs "Freedom Now: Suite"
and as i write this Michael Franti whispers in my ear about music and politics

on September 11th 2001, as we watched the towers fall,
Jody Meeker asked me why the Arabs hate the Jews
and as i tried to explain history, WWII and the last 40 years of international politics,
i felt somehow reminded of the mother in Anthony Burgess' a brave new world,
who can't explain anything about the world to her son
because society has taught her nothing except her drudge job

in the year of someone elses lord 2004
past the precipice of war
the drum continues to lead men + women to death

this election i saw religion and ethics pushed to the breaking point,
where the issues became the backburner to religious hype, warmed over bad feelings about wars past and money
the divide between the right and the left widens and the difference between fact and fiction no longer matters

three weeks ago i saw an old friend i haven't seen in 6 years
she spent the first 26 years of her life devoted to purity,
all for a deity i have never met
i gave her a hug and told her how beautiful she was,
all the while wondering if we had anything in common anymore
as she introduced me to her husband
(the divide widens)

November, the week of the elections
my brother told me doesn't care about the Middle East
"kill them all and let god sort it out" is what he told me
and i wondered if he was talking about the Muslim peoples god, the Jewish peoples god or his god……or if it matters
(the divide widens)

its thanksgiving day 2004
and i find self giving thanks that i am alive
giving thanks to the muse which inspires my existence
and wondering where the drum leads next