Red River Blues 

we all now women don't just 'disappear'... it's a fact that they're 'out there' somewhere... 
some sleeping restless, in a shallow grave... a semblance of 'justice' all that's left to crave... 
mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters, too... what would you do? 
what would you do?... if they were kin to you? 

I sense a choir of voices falling on deaf ears.... an oh, so distant drumbeat, a new 'trail of tears'... 
a highway of heartache cutting through the land... broken promises sifting through empty hands... 
some lost to 'herstory', but for DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway? 
what would you do? what would you do?... if they were blood to you? 

I'll cry on the shoulder of your 'Highway of Tears'... listen for ghost whispers, in my inner hear... 
we all know women don't just disappear... they haunt the hidden hills and hollows out there... 
some lost to herstory, but for their DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway? 
what can we do?.. what can we do?... surely, they\re all our sisters, too 

this small square of moose hide, that I wear... shows I stand at your side, as a man; I care... 
I'll sing to break the silence, and as my own prayer... to end the cycle of violence; 
to women and children everywhere... what can you do? (you ask me) what can you do? 
well, you could wear one, too. 

we all know women don't just disappear... it's a fact that they're out there, somewhere... 
still sleeping restless in their shallow graves... some semblance of justice all that's left to crave... 
some lost to herstory but for DNA... and just who's looking for them, anyway? 
now I hear that they're dragging the Red River; looking for kin, looking for clues... 
smudging cedar, sweetgrass and sage; singing 'the Red River Blues'... 
(highway of heartache... highway of tears... Red River Blues...) 

...well... above is the lyric (more or less) to the song 'Red River Blues' that appears below in the 'listening band' (shall we call it that?)... this is not the version from the recording, but rather the arrangement that Sherine Cisco put to the very powerful video she constructed for the song long before cousin Michael P. O'Toole recorded the take that appears on 'Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel' I enjoy the addition of the keyboards, and hope that the video will remain on YouTube for a long time to come. It is of course, Serine's property; and as such subject to her wishes. One might find minor discrepancies in the printed lyric; but I consider songs to be fluid works in progress, and as such are apt to change from recording to performance, day to day. The reference to 'this small square of moosehide' is a tip of the hat to www.moosehidecampaign.ca ; the grassroots organization formed in B.C. some years back yo raise awareness of issues of violence towards women and children; not just in First Nations, but everywhere. One day, (October 04th, 2016?) I came out of PCVS (the artsy high school here in my hometown, where I was employed as a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) to find a demonstration/event transpiring in the park adjacent to the school grounds. First Nations drummers and dancers, speakers and prayers. I was given the small square of moosehide to pin on my old doeskin bush coat, where I wore it for a long time. Now it resides on my favourite guitar strap; a woven wedding sash that my friend Rob Roy gifted me after returning from teaching in the kingdom of Bhutan years ago. I would encourage one and all to check out the www.moosehidecampaign.ca site. I've offered them this song; but have had no real response. I'm just putting the songs 'out there'; what becomes of them beyond that is anyone's guess, I guess. 
I come from pretty solid Irish stock; and as such, have my own take on 'Colonialism'; but it seems high time (and then some) that we as Canadians, come to terms with the treatment of our indigenous peoples. Our history texts most certainly do not reflect the bloodshed and broken promises; yes, the genocide; upon which this land of ours was built. I'll share a snippet from my tribute to the late, great Willie Dunn ('Willie on the Wind'); activist; playwright, film maker, singer/songwriter and true Canadian: (check his work out, folks!)... 

"I stood upon the western streets and saw the sorrow of the people's lives... 
I knew I bore the weight of my forefather's sins... 
saw the echoes of defeat at the hands of the 'black robes' and 'long knives'... 
they may be my blood.. they are no longer my kin..." (love to all, d.)

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