lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: shame on you

1997-04-04: kwva interview, eugene, oregon:

"well when i started the song, i was really,...i have these friends that are, the 'tanners' that i refer to, umm, i can't (a sighs), we, i can't, i don't know why its in a religious context. they're a very spiritual people and i think we were talking about jesus or something, you know, like the southern jesus (laughs). the river and the baptisms and stuff like that, and i think that i was thinking about that. i think were talking about y'know everybody has been through these things and we all need to be cleansed in our lifetime. its not supposed to be specifically christian, it supposed to be the mythos, the symbolism of it all, but i don't know why those words came out. it ended up being a song about illegal immigration."


1997-05: jeff clark keeps 'em coming for amy ray , stomp and stammer:

what helped inspire "shame on you," the new single?

"i saw this really cool movie called displaced in the new south [by atlanta filmmaker david zeiger], and there was a whole section of it about gainesville, and the poultry industry there and then later on down the road i had heard they were starting to crack down on illegal immigrants up there, working at these factories. but they hassled everyone, and to me, it's like, god, how hypocritical can you get? you're running this chicken [company], you're raking in the millions, you're hiring people for low wages, they have terrible work conditions and the city's making money off it, and at the same time the city's going, 'what are all these illegal immigrants doing here?' what do you think they're doing?! they're working, because somebody else doesn't want the job. all these people complain that all these jobs are being taken away and stuff like that, well, those people are the people that are willing to do it. i don't know enough about it to spout off about it, but that's what i see from the outside."

what do you think should be done about illegal immigrants?

"oh, god, i don't know. they shouldn't have to be illegal they won't let people in to [be citizens]. it's not like everybody can do that. i think you have to have certain access to the infrastructure, and the resources, and i don't know what the policies are on how many people can apply, you know, to become citizens. i don't think it's as easy as just doing it, though i know [the question] is a hard one, because they go, well, if all these people come here, we can't possibly handle it all the more i read, the more i realize i don't know anything. so, i'm not really qualified to talk about it, except from my perspective, [which is] it's hypocritical to be speaking about illegal immigrants when we're immigrants ourselves. and who drew the line, and said, 'okay, now, you're illegal and you're not'? what if somebody had done that to us? it's bullshit."


1997-05-16: world cafe:

amy: "this is about the importance of, you know, the beauty of like ethnic things in our life you know. and um, we were listening, i was listening to the pixies' album 'doolittle' and van morrison and all these things one day when my friends were over. they have a window washing company, and they were like, giving me a present to wash my windows. and we were all hanging, and it's like uh, all of a sudden it turned into this song about immigration. i don't know what happened. (laughing). there's a place near where i live that's a, a place with a large hispanic population very central in one little area and it's like the town tries to act like they're not there and it's so funny to me. and i rode my bike through it one day and it was like happening! you know music and dancing and i was like 'oh my god', you know what have i been missing this whole time. cause you wouldn't know it's you know around so. and then the same thing that's occuring there's a lot of poulty factories and they have, they would have roadblocks set up and be checking people's licenses and checking for legal you know identity and um just hassling people you know. and so it kinda all mushed together i don't know why that happens. happens to emily too."

emily: "yep"


1997-05-31: hey kind friend, creative loafing:

the title shaming of the sun comes from a tunica indian legend, one of many native american - and south american - creation myths that focus on the sun, its powers and its life-giving properties. on the record, the indigo girls have used the symbol over and over: it's the light that shines on the windows in "shame on you," it's the drink of life in "get out the map," its absence defines "leeds," it dies in olympia in "hey kind friend."

in most legends, the power of the sun always wins the day - or at least part of it. the sun is the bully and the lover at the same time. you could say the same of music, the "languageless connection" emily urges us to hold fast to in "everything in its own time." it may be one of the few mythological elements we have left today, that larger-than-life force that has the power to push back the darkness. and the indigo girls, like a couple of coyotes, have tricked it into doing exactly that.


1994-01: lucy wainwright roche: five essential indigo girls songs,

"shame on you," (amy), shaming of the sun (1997)

"let it be me" (emily), rites of passage (1992)

i'm going to bend the five-song rule here and split this slot between two songs. it's hard to talk about what's essential about the indigo girls without touching on the political content in their work. to write effectively about topical issues is, to say the least, difficult, and saliers and ray have both found a way to do it that works for them and their audience. both of these songs examine the how we struggle with the rights and wrongs of our singular lives and how that spins out into the world at large. if you have a chance to see these two songs played live, you might be surprised to feel that joy that can be found at the intersection of personal and political frustration. maybe finding some joy is what it takes to keep on pushing toward what you believe in in these times.


2014-12-02: ar.1996, official indigo girls "a year a month blog" on tumblr:

most of our days in 1996 were spent working on shaming of the sun, which was released the next year in 1997. we were coming off of a big year, diving into a new record and not totally sure of our direction, but we knew that we wanted to veer off of our beaten path a bit and incorporate some of the new players and people we had met. you can tell that we didn't know where to land by the liner notes on the record. at the beginning of the project, we worked a bit with peter collins, who was really responsible for the pop potential of "get out the map" and "shame on you," but as i recall we wanted to take this project and run a bit, and so we ended up co-producing the record with david leonard, who had engineered and mixed with us before. he wanted an adventure as well, so we headed into the project with a lot of big ideas, but probably not enough focus at first. we ended up in three different studios (in nashville, atlanta, and austin), which wasn't a bad thing, but it did feel a bit like we were floundering. we used reels and reels of big fat analog tape, which sounded amazing but were really indulgent and costly. back then you had to send around the big reels of tape to whatever studio you were working at and make copies of them for safety. and most of all you had to keep track of what was on each tape and which tapes held your master performances. so there was a pretty good paper trail for this record. i think the recordings sound amazing because of david (and all the tape we used), and in the end, the record came out with a solid group of songs that i consider vital to our development, and some experiments that really worked, but there were a few of my songs that i probably could have left off. i was post break up from a 7-year relationship, newly formed in my spirit from honor the earth, and well into a career whose largeness took me by surprise, so this record reflected a lot of the transitions of that time.


2015-02-27: amy ray of indigo girls, song facts:

songfacts: and the song "shame on you," was that about somebody in particular?

amy: i started that song just out of hanging out with this friend of mine named kate harris. she's my best friend, and we always have a lot of misadventures together. but it ended up being about immigration issues.

we were at my house in north georgia and i was moving from this little cabin to another house i was living in, and i didn't want to do it. i just didn't want to work that day. and she was like, "you need to work. you've got to get this done." it was that message of, shame on you for wanting to just have fun all day.

and then it turned into this thing. we went into town that day, and it was this little neighborhood where you're hidden away from everything. it's a hispanic neighborhood, and it was a summer day and there was music playing and it was very provocative. i was like a little kid: i was wanting to discover what was going on in this neighborhood that no one knows about. and then it made me think about immigration, because i live in an area where there's definitely been a lot of roadblocks and sting operations to pick up undocumented workers. i think georgia's got a terrible perspective on immigration, so it became about that, rather than what it originally started out as. that's where it grew into a vocal song.

songfacts: that's interesting how songs kind of evolve as you're writing them and probably as you're singing them too, right? i'll bet they kind of change a little bit as they fit different issues that you never imagined they would have fit.

amy: yeah. i totally agree. i think that does happen.

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