“Most of my whole life… I’ve lived in a city with a French king’s name…”

The title of this post is a self-referential bit of nonsense…  It’s part of a lyric I wrote in a song on my “Ink-Stained Fingers” album. That line starts verse-two in “Give It Up.”  The chorus is, “You’ve got to celebrate what you’ve got even if there’s more you want.  Anything else is a slow suicide.  You’ve got to give it up.”

At this time last night, it was still sinking in that a bunch of people in Paris went to a rock concert expecting to see one of their favorite bands.  A handful of crazy motherfuckers calmly gunned them down, reloaded, and shot again.  Elsewhere, suicide bombers did their horrible work.  And the City of Lights turned the lights on the Eiffel Tower OFF.

I have been to hundreds of rock concerts.  They aren’t supposed to be scary places (unless you’re seeing GWAR or Slipknot).  They’re supposed to be celebrations.  Moments of joy.  Someplace you’re happy, or even if you’re not HAPPY, you’re at least putting it all aside and uniting with everybody else in a shared joy for a few songs.  Music is supposed to get you THROUGH something like this, not be interrupted by it.

And yet here we are…the first thing I can think to write beyond a Facebook post is quoting a lyric.  Albeit my own…  Because music is bigger than this evil.  So we keep singing…

I’m not going to claim to be a scholar of the country of France…  But I do live in a city with a French king’s name.  And I chose French as my foreign language in high school.  (I tell people it was to impress a girl and it didn’t work, as a joke…  The truth is I just preferred it to Spanish.)  I also enjoy several aspects of French culture–I’m a big Les Miserables fan, until recently had a fondness for many of their wines, and I even like Jerry Lewis.  I’ve never had a particular urge to go there…but a lot of what has come here from there has appealed to me for a long time.

In 2003, I was in a small town in rural Indiana with a group of friends.  We stopped in at a local diner for lunch.  This was when George Bush’s phony-assed war on terror (which, as we can see, TOTALLY worked!) was in full-swing and France had opted to do what was right for their country at that time and sit it out.  This was a time when–God help us–small-minded restaurant owners in small-towns in Indiana changed their menus to offer “Freedom Fries.”  I went out of my way to ask what they were and after listening, asked them to bring me some FRENCH fries and consider changing their menu back to something less petty and offensive.  The rest of the group was uncomfortable…but I’d like to think they’re thinking of the story this week.

Terrorism always was and always will be a threat.  As shocking a concept as it may be to some Americans, terrorism did not start on 9/11/01.  As long as there have been people, there have been people systematically working out ways to kill one another–and most of them picture major headlines before they do it.  These sons of bitches got them.  But a headline does not tell the whole story…  We have songs for that.

Sing loud, France.

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