The pandemic, a bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality: It's a lot of take in. For some, music has been a way to cope and try to make sense of it all and that is the premise behind the Morning Edition Song Project, in which we asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment.
As cases began to spike and some states began issuing stay-at-home orders, Garcia had just started to tour to promote the record but had to call it off. She wrote "Horsemen," the song for our series, in the early days of the pandemic.
It's a little disquieting, but true to the spirit of making sense of the moment. So if I'm full of all these weird feelings of uncertainty, then this is a perfect time to write," says Angelica Garcia. That idea of finding resonance in a song after its completion rings true for "Horsemen" as well. Garcia finished it before a police officer killed George Floyd and before the protests that followed, but she sees her song's imagery in the statues now covered in graffiti in her current hometown of Richmond, Va.
NPR's David Greene spoke to Angelica Garcia about living a few blocks from Richmond's Confederate monuments, or what her friend calls "the world's largest collection of second-place trophies" and the inspiration behind her song "Horsemen," which she says in retrospect is "totally a song about anti-colonization. The pandemic, the bad economy, police killings and a fight for racial equality - it is a lot to take in.
And for some, music has been a way to cope and to try to make sense of it all. We asked musicians to write and perform an original song about this moment. So if I'm full of all these weird feelings of uncertainty, then this is a perfect time to write. And, like, I'll realize later what a song was actually about even though while I was working on it I might not have realized what I was trying to say.
GREENE: Angelica Garcia wrote this in the early days of the pandemic when many Americans were under stay-at-home orders and the economy was shedding millions of jobs. She had just released a really personal new album about her Mexican and Salvadoran heritage and about growing up in east LA. She had just started her tour to promote it, but then she had to call it off. It was a lot. Angelica Garcia lives in Richmond, Va. And I live, like, just a few blocks from Monument Avenue, which is where you have, like, as a friend of mine says, the world's largest collection of second-place trophies.
Laughter And All the Confederate monuments are there. They've all been, like, spray-painted over. They've become the sites of all these protests happening regularly that we can hear from our apartment almost every night. Lee and the other Confederate statues, like, how do you relate to that as a Latina? And they did actually take down the Columbus statue here, too, and they threw him in the pond. That was pretty great laughter. But it's just this idea of, like, we should not be idolizing people that basically did horrible crimes against humanity.
And this whole idea that, oh, they're revolutionary, or they explored something or whatever, and it's like, but it came at the cost of thousands and thousands of people's lives. And it doesn't make sense to glorify them. And that's the thing about the way that these statues are. Robert E. Lee is, like, depicted as strong on this big horse, and it makes him seem powerful. We shouldn't give them that power anymore.
In that sense, I connect with that for sure. GREENE: I just think about, like, the idea of statues and some of them on horses, and I think about laughter the song that you have created for us. Can you talk about any connection there might be to that and kind of what the inspiration was for the song?
You think of horsemen kind of just, like, sweeping in and overtaking a town or a city. And then to me that kind of, like, connected to the Spanish horsemen that first came to the Aztec empire because that was, like, the first time the Mexica people had ever seen horses.
And then I was also kind of drawing a connection between that and the four horsemen of the apocalypse - right? And I was thinking about how, like, the horsemen themselves might try and mutate. They might become different with each subsequent generation, but they're still arriving. And I think it's imperative that people try to understand what they're dealing with when it happens.
The air is definitely heavy. It feels like a lot is changing, and a lot of people leading in positions of power aren't giving us the answers that people need. I think it's really important to look things in the face and be like, this is what's going on. She was with musician Calvin Presents on keyboard. The song is called "Horsemen. You know, it's kind of funny because it's, like, after you play a song and you get to, like, re-engage with lyrics and stuff, I feel like, oh, this is totally, like, a song about anti-colonization laughter.
I mean, I think it's important to talk about all chapters of history and from all perspectives, meaning not just from the perspective of the victors.
You can hear the finished version of her new song on our show's Facebook page and on Twitter morningedition. Share Tweet Email.