So, this morning I chatted with John Hiatt, the veteran singer/songwriter coming to the zoo on August 25. I mentioned to him that at his in-store at Easy Street in April, I was struck by his song, "Homeland," off his new album, The Open Road, particularly the lyrics:
"And I call this place my homeland/And I claim this land I own/But it belongs to another people/They posses it in their bones."
So, I said to him:
It sounded to me like you were saying that the country's got a while lot of problems --among them our treatment of Native Americans -- but at the end of the day this is still your country and it's still something you're proud of. Am I getting close?
Well, that's your take. You're perfectly entitled to it. What's your name again?
Chris. It's fiction, Chris. Have you ever heard the Flannery O'Connor quote ... fiction is ... the wide view. It's meant to expand on possibilities. That's a perfectly legitimate view of things if you want it. I can tell you what inspired me.
What inspired me was that we had ghosts behind the barn.We have some Native American friends who are medicine people. And they kept calling us for years. And my kids saw the ghosts, and my wife had dealt with the ghosts, and I heard 'em for years. Finally our Native American friends said, we gotta come down and do something, because there's people back there that are stuck.
And so they came down and we did a ceremony. Apparently there was a slaughter behind the barn about 300 years ago. We did a little ceremony with our medicine friends and kind of told these people it's time to move on and did what we could to help them move on.
And that was the inspiration for the song.
What's funny is that while I was dead-wrong on his intentions behind "Homeland," his sympathies are very close to what I thought he was trying to convey in the song. More on that later.