Shortly after the legendary rebel singer Pete Seeger passed from this world, a friend passed on to me We Will Reign from The Last Internationale—and life came back into balance. Sad to say so long to Pete who’d provided so many sweet harmonies for many, many righteous campaigns gone by, but ecstatic to meet the newest phoenix rising from the old and laying down a powerful soundtrack for what lies ahead. Delila’s strikingly lucid voice, Edgey’s driving chords, Brad’s perfect beats mixed with a vision that synchronizes: it’s all such a stunning symmetry.
The Last Internationale picks up the torch carried in various places and at different times by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Nina Simone, Public Enemy, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Rage Against the Machine, and hundreds more. That torch is deployed here to illuminate the dark spaces of injustice as well as to light up a path toward freedom. The Last Internationale speaks with passion and intimacy to anarchists and guerrillas, to comrades-in-arms, to friends and strangers alike, tripping and running, busting out of jail—breaking all the entanglements that ensnare us, all the cotton wool that smothers us—searching out the rhythms of resistance, and deploying every one of the weapons within reach: truth-telling and courage, beauty and form, abiding patience and infinite perseverance, indignation, urgency, incitement, and mostly love. These power-house rebel-rockers hold the torch with renewed confidence and a sparkling fresh spirit.
We Will Reign overflows with emotional richness and humanity, challenges us to throw off the lifeless, unpleasant, and unerotic in our lives, and announces a profound truth: any revolution worth having will be powered by a deep desire for joy as well as justice. We can feel the thud of the police stick and the searing pain of the interrogation cell, but also the exhilaration of choosing to lead a moral life in a world gone mad, and the power of pursuing a politics based on freedom dreams beyond dogma and opportunism. The music hums with the universal hope for a world in balance and at peace, and it’s punctuated with the most basic human cry: I shall create! I found myself provoked and agitated, gasping for air, talking to myself and hollering back, laughing through tears while screaming above the ecstasy. WWR does what good art demands: I was in orbit.
We Will Reign—part joyous awakening, part indictment of unnecessary suffering, part astonishing love-letter, and part full-throated invitation to a revolution—is not so much a map as a beckoning, not a completed script, but fragments of an unfinished improvisation. They have a story to tell, a thousand stories really, echo after echo from long ago and from just a minute past, reverberations booming toward an uncertain future and ricocheting back at us, refrains from the rough but lovely localities of the wretched of the earth to the hard boundaries of lost and disappearing things. Every line calls us together and invites us to create, each gestures toward a world that could be but is not yet; every note offers another door you might squeeze through in search of the rest of your life. Turn the knob, slip the lip, dive headfirst into the wreckage—now there you are.
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