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Careful Now My Son

Updated: Feb 23

Mark and I wrote this song in the spring of 2020. We did it in a hard rock style for the demo, but Mike got inspired and changed the style to Americana--which I now feel fits the song best. "Careful Now My Son" is "Song 1" of the thirteen songs Mark and I wrote for our "music in the time of coronavirus" collection, which will all be produced and mixed by Mike Butler (American Bardo, This Mortal Farce).

Careful Now My Son

(Anders, O’Bitz 2020)

We won’t see it in time

Won’t remember what was

So far behind

Far behind

We won’t see what will come

We won’t see what will come

In time

Out of time


Careful now my son

Think before you do

Good fortune may not come

To you


We won’t know what it’s like

Never been here before

In our lives

Any lives

We won’t know what to do

We won’t know who to blame

Or what’s true

What is true


Careful now my son

Think before you do

Good fortune may not come

To you


Careful now my son

Good fortune may not come

What have we left for you?


When I wrote these words, I was reacting to both the pandemic and Trumpism's increasing assault on truth. Some listeners have objected to the "we won't know who to blame" line arguing that they know who to blame for Trumpism and for the high cost of covid on the U.S.: Trump and Trumpism. The U.S. death toll from covid would have been lower with a competent and reality-based leader in charge, for sure. And it would have been lower if more Republicans had simply thought about others and worn their masks and social distanced.


More to the point, you can't blame Trump on Trump. I'm not sure he's much to blame for Trumpism either--though it would not have happened quite the same way but for Trump. Regardless, I'm not sure simply blaming Trump and Trumpism really gets us very far.


The line works for covid in general, and for Trumpism in general. There is a direct line from Trump and Trumpism back to the Tea Party, and then to Reaganism, and then to the John Birch Society, and then to McCarthyism, and then to Lindbergh and the America First movement, and then to rabid white supremacism of the first quarter of the 20th century, and then to Jim Crow and "the Lost Cause" of the defeated Confederacy, and then to centuries of American slavery starting before 1619. It would be hard to know who or what to blame with regard to this extensive history of what might be called right-wing America--this history that makes up what could be considered the core of American history, the (racist and sexist) core of America.


I really like what Kaithlin Reuther had to say about "Careful Now My Son" in her New Sick Music review:

When faced with paradigm-shifting realities, there are many ways to cope. Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz are taking relief in creation. Their collection, aptly titled Music in the Time of Coronavirus, is an exploration of the anxieties, isolation, and hostility that arose from 2020.
“Careful Now my Son” comes off this collection and, as the only Americana song on the record, was chosen as a single. Though this may not be a peek at the genre intentions of the project, it certainly shows the deftness of songwriting and complex, moody melodies these artists can create.
The song is wholly unified, layered up, and smooth. It’s hard to believe that everyone involved created it while staying in place. The lushness of the instrumentation is rich, with resonant guitar plucking a melody over sliding ambiance and a clapping rhythm. Anders’ vocals linger, laying out a somber picture. “We won’t know what to do / We won’t know who to blame /Or what’s true,” he sings starkly.
​While the duo wanted to explore the coronavirus pandemic’s emotional toll in their music, the political anxieties of the Trump era also seep in. “Careful Now my Son” can be considered a continuation of the ideas developed in “Wounded Son” on 2019’s Ghosts to Ancestors.

Wounded Son

(©2018 Anders/O’Bitz)

Again in tatters

Burning crosses

Civil war dead

Haunting us


Roots on both sides

Such old matters

Hard to let go

Violent home


Hey

Don’t relive that “great again”

Way down low

Wounded son


Old fractures

Like we have

Go right through the bone

These ghosts they’re hauntin’ us

Again, again


Seen what matters

Seen the losses

All this hate that’s

Haunting us


Roots on all sides

Such old matters

Hard to let go

Violent home


Hey

Don’t relive that “great again”

Way down low

Wounded son


Old fractures

Like we have

Go right through the bone

These ghosts they’re hauntin’ us

Again, again, again, again


These lives matter

Mounting losses

Racist war dead

Haunting us


Can’t root both sides

When hate matters

Try to let go

Violent home


Hey

Don’t relive that “great again”

Way down low

Wounded son


Old fractures

Like we have

Go right through the bone

These ghosts they’re hauntin’ us

Again


Don’t relive that “great again”

Way down low

Wounded son

Hey

Don’t relive that “great again”

Wounded son


As you can see from the lyrics, "Careful Now My Son" is a continuation of the political themes of "Wounded Son"--though the pandemic themes are obviously new. These two songs are so androcentric because white men are the "sons" in question here, primarily the sons of the American south, "way down low." Racism and sexism are both very important to Trumpism and the American right in general.


These sons are aggrieved and see themselves as victims of oppression--i.e., "wounded"--with respect to non-white Americans, much like the Nazis saw themselves as the victims of the Jews.


The many myths of "the Lost Cause" are extremely important to the identity politics of these wounded sons. The "great again" in question is an antebellum time of true white (male) supremacy of slavery--or, closer in, the pre-civil-rights 1950s. The white supremacist terrorists who bungled their insurrection on January 6th, 2021, thought they could steal the election for their fascistic Great Leader so he could lead them back to these "great" times for white male Americans, these Proud Boys, these "wounded sons."


For more on our "music in the time of coronavirus" collection, see my Sirens Go By post on this blog.


Eric Anders, 1/20/21


P.S. Like "Wounded Son," "Careful Now My Son" is done in an Americana style Mark and I often use, as you can hear in this Spotify playlist: