On November 4, 2014, when I wrote the “Voting Day” poem that later turned into this song, I wrote it in the midst of what felt like a disproportionately high stakes rhetorical battle. Advocates from both sides of the ballot wrote editorials to local newspapers begging voters not to be on the wrong side of history. Friends, family, and coworkers on both sides talked about last chances to take a stand for truth. For many, Wednesday’s morning news would reveal whether or not the sun had risen or set on what they believed to be the American way. The pressure was on, but it all seemed to be singularly focused on an act that would take place in a matter of minutes on the way home from work. I began to wonder about all the other minutes of that day.
Throughout the day I wrote the lines of “Voting Day” as my own little way of trying to redistribute some of that pressure. I had some help. In class my students discussed “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, particularly the line “Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” Also, two related quotations posted on my whiteboard fed my meditation:
“Everything matters if anything matters at all.”
—Pierce Pettis, “God Believes in You”
“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
—Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation
I do not intend to diminish the powerful voice given through the right to vote for government officials and policies, but this week is also an opportune time to celebrate just how many other powerful platforms we’ve been given, for better or worse, in the choices we make in every moment with every action at each breath.
[Editor’s note: “Voting Day” is the first single from No Story is Over, a full length Son of Laughter album coming out March 2017. The album art is a collaboration between Jamin Still and John Hendrix. Still created the image as an oil painting. Hendrix designed the text. Click here to download the song from Noisetrade.]
Every day is voting day. Cast your whole heart a thousand ways. Cast a net. Cast a stone. Cast your king up on a throne. You get to say what you’ve got to say ‘cause every day is voting day.
Every day is voting day. Cast your whole heart a thousand ways. Cast a look. Cast a spell. Cast your brother down a desert well. You get to say what you’ve got to say ‘cause every day is voting day.
Heart won’t behave. Digging your grave. Riding the river with a runaway slave. Sometimes you choose to lose all you have. Sometimes the truth is you’re better off bad.
Cast a shadow. Cast a doubt. Cast those deadly demons out, and let love reign! That’s a fine campaign!
‘Cause everyday is a voting day. Every day is a voting day. Every day is a voting day.
Every day is voting day. Cast your whole heart a thousand ways. Cast your colors. Cast a play. Cast a cup from a hunk of clay. Who’s gonna win it? I’ll have my say. Every little minute is a voting day.