The Weapon Called the Word. A song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.
by Jeremy Cloward
Greetings. Allow me to introduce myself, My Name is Jeremy Cloward. I am a new member of the Mormon Worker, a devout member of the Mormon Church, and an anarchist. I owe that to, not just the punk bands the Sex Pistols or The Dead Kennedys, but the actual Kennedys. I was raised to think that the Kennedys were the primo breed of the United States, and that if we had a royal family, they would be it. When I began listening to Punk at age 12, I heard the Dead Kennedys singing songs like, ‘We’ve got a bigger problem now,” citing lyrics such as:
Welcome to 1984
Are you ready for the third world war?!?
You too will meet the secret police
They’ll draft you and they’ll jail your niece
You’ll go quietly to boot camp
They’ll shoot you dead, make you a man
Don’t you worry, it’s for a cause
Feeding global corporations’ claws
Die on our brand new poison gas
El Salvador or Afghanistan
Making money for President Reagan
And all the friends of President Reagan
Since I liked Reagan at the time, I at first thought, “wow, that’s offensive,” but I was getting into the punk world more and more. I later read an article pointing out the fact that the real Kennedys were an elitist bunch of corrupt slugs, and that the Dead Kennedys took their name based on the mockery of the American dream and to say that political power was attained by sleazy means. I did more research to find out that they were far worse in their lust for power than I could have believed. All the research pointed to the view that we were all duped into worshiping the modern day King Herod’s. I went all through high school being taught differently than what really happened in history. I was soon not to trust governments, or what I was told at face value by the media, and the politicians. I embraced anarchism for the pure version of what the Lord wants for us, a highly organized system, with a complete absence of power. Only people clinging to the righteous values the Lord has given us. I am going to hopefully be contributing regularly to the paper and the movement, for now I will start the music column for the paper. I am a music addict, and have spent a better part of my life going to shows and collecting albums, and live concert recordings.
This Issue: The Levellers. Based on the historical movement of anarchists in the 1600s, John Lilbourne, or as he was titled “Freeborne John,” led a splinter group from Cromwell’s New Model Army. They were originally called the “Diggers,” and later the name of the “Levellers” stuck.
The modern day punk band called the Levellers hail from Brighton England. I was first exposed to them in 1992 in Phoenix AZ at the 4th of July fest. I went down to see Peter Murphy, who was headlining, but the Levellers were one of the 9 bands scheduled to play that day. I met 3 of them hanging out in the audience right after the Machines of Loving Grace set. I met John Sevink, the fiddle player, one of the techies, and Charlie Heather the drummer. They were polite, told me about the band, their history, and what they were doing around the states. I was kind of shocked to hear that they had a fiddle player. He explained it was a kind of fiddle I had probably never heard before. They came out a while later, plugged in, and pumped out some incredible sounds, full of energy, anger, hope, love and a vast challenge to the world as it stands. The song that stood out the most was “One Way:” “There’s only one way of life, and that’s your own. “ Belting out some incredible melodies, but sounding like nothing I had ever heard before, they have since become one of my all time favorite bands. They are an earthy folk band, that took a bass guitar and bashed the Sex Pistols into the fundamental sound. They sound like The Alarm, meets New Model Army , meets The Waterboys. Imagine folk fiddle played Metalllica speed, with all the roar of pure anarchist lyrics riding on top delivering the message. If you can imagine that, then you understand the Levellers.
The band has become disenfranchised with the United States and does not play here much anymore. I saw them again in Paris in 1997, with a full arena of fellow anarchists, enjoying the music, and speed of an intense folk band playing to a large mosh pit. The first album called “The Weapon called the Word,” is the one of the few albums never to chart, and still go platinum. The band hates music press, and for the most part record companies, because even something as holy and pure as music, has been capitalized, and making money has become more important than good music and the message getting out. The Levellers have tackled issues such as heroine addiction, housing projects, and crime, all catching people in a vicious cycle because of poor social programs and laws not protecting individuals but corporate greed instead.
Everyday I look at you
Dressed up in your ties of blue
Saying there’s not much you can do
To help the kids on Hope Street
They don’t seem to even care
That it was you that put them there
You seem to think they like it there
Hanging out on Hope Street
From the song Hope street off the album “Zeitgeist”
The Levellers joined forces with Rev Hammer (another noted Vocal anarchist) in 1997 to put together a sort of opera telling the story of Freeborn John, and the original Levellers. They also became disillusioned with the festival Circuit in the UK, and founded their own festival of music. It is called “Beautiful Days”, celebrating and promoting Anarchism, and environmental causes. At times joining them in the festival is at Alabama 3, New Model Army, The Stranglers, Echo & the Bunnymen, Billy Brag, and many more.
The band sings of things that resonate in my heart, to music that I can just enjoy, I recommend them to everyone I can. The wisdom in the music is pure, timeless, and most important, wise. “All the problems in the world, won’t be solved by this guitar.”
For more info on the band, see http://www.levellers.co.uk