Joyful Motherf**ckers by Allison Russell

My son and I were discussing language the other day, particularly why certain words are censored, or considered low-class. I’ve had a lifelong interest in slang, in what is considered obscene, what kind of language makes you seem better educated, and what makes you seem low class. I love how language evolves in all directions.

The word “motherfucker” is very popular, as well as, fuck. In some places I’ve lived, fuck and motherfucker are in practically every sentence. In fact, there’s a phrase in my city that explains a certain attitude: Memphis as Fuck. Someone once asked me what that even meant, but it’s just one of those things, if you have to ask you won’t understand. Memphis is both a beautiful and ugly place to live, it’s warm and friendly, it’s mean and impoverished.

Life is like that. Any city, any town, any life — sometimes makes it feel like there’s a war raging against you, that you are subject to be erased. Even though many of us grew up in abusive families, the isolated, all powerful family unit still is our collective delusional ideal. When you grow up in something so far from the delusion you feel like an alien, you feel a sense of shame. So how do you keep an open heart and mind? For me, it was that I found help from kind people outside the boundaries of what was limiting my life. I got sick, a long term disorder, and met people who were different looking, who had different ways to survive. And I found art, poetry, fiction, visual art, music — they all gave me power over the hatefulness a traumatic childhood had planted in me.

I’ve recently delighted in the Allison Russell’s new album Outside Child. It’s an album about power and escape and collaboration and the strength it takes to be kind.

This is a great article about her from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2021/05/26/1000521784/singer-songwriter-allison-russell-shares-a-personal-saga-of-trauma-and-triumph-o

In all the ways the word motherfucker is used negatively, this is the best use of it I’ve heard in music. I’m making this song a permanent part of the music in my head:

Hope all you joyful motherfuckers feel your own strength and beauty today!

~~~

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