1978, smiling politely

from Martha by Martha

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Martha is Naomi, Daniel, Jonathan and Nathan
Recorded by Johannes Rowlinson, January 2012.

lyrics

1978, a poem born in New York state,
A hire car, the license plate read FL502,
Destinations muddled in a constant petty struggle,
If I stop to fill the tank then that's the last I'll see of you,

Cause you're no good at reading maps,
And I'm so bad at keeping time,
I'm sure that every night will be our last,
A downfall we designed,
I'll keep one foot on the gas,
So say goodnight.

Audre, can't you see? This lousy luck is killing me,
I'm scared as fuck that this might be,
A one way journey South,
Is this the best that we could manage,
'Cause there's barely surface damage,
It's a massive disadvantage to live in the master's house,

Cause you're no good at reading maps,
And I'm so bad at keeping time,
I'm sure that every night could be our last,
A downfall we designed,
I'll keep one foot on the gas,
So say goodnight.
I'll keep one foot on the gas so say goodnight,

For fourteen years my body betrayed me,
The one I cannot live without must live on without me,
Unread books on dusty shelves tell a story of their own,
I know in time we all find peace of mind,
When optionless we do what we must do,
But that was barely good enough and you,
You stole my heart and then you stole my tools,
You stole my tools, you stole my tools.

Oh Audre.

***

Audre Lorde was born in New York in the 1930s. She began writing poetry at an early age and went on to become an icon of critical literature. In her own words she was a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet". Lorde died in 1992 after a fourteen year battle with cancer; this song is a fictionalized account of her journey south to the Caribbean (her parents’ home), where she spent her final days. This song references Lorde’s poem ‘Hanging Fire’ which describes the problems of a fourteen year-old girl struggling with a typical set of teenage anxieties, and the prospect of her death revealing the ‘truth’ about her feelings. It begins with the line “I am fourteen/and my skin has betrayed me/the boy I cannot live without/still sucks his thumb/in secret”. There is a morbid symmetry between Lorde’s age in the poem, the length of her illness, and her body’s betrayals, first through acne, then through cancer. The song also references what is perhaps Lorde’s most infamous work “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. Lorde famously said of her work "what I leave behind has a life of its own". This song is a tribute to a truly inspirational figure and everything she left behind.

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from Martha, track released February 10, 2012

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Martha Durham, UK

Martha is a pop band from Durham city.

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