All is Fair in you & war
I started writing “All is Fair in You & War” during the height of the Charlottesville protests last year. I didn’t know what else to do. Once again, sides were taken. Blood was shed. Lives were lost. Enough was enough, and I felt like I had to do something.
It didn’t take long before I found myself sitting in front of the muted television with CNN footage on a perpetual, mechanical loop — tears in my eyes and guitar in hand. I was numb, but my fingers just started dancing across the strings, and before I knew it, a melody appeared. But the melody itself wasn’t dark and despairing. Instead, it was lighthearted and almost hopeful. This buoyant, optimistic tune wasn’t what I was expecting, and yet it couldn’t have felt more right.
Still numb, the lyrics for what would ultimately become the chorus emerged: There’s been a lot of he said, she said / lines drawn, brothers dead / All is fair in you and war, I guess / But how’d it come to this? / If you, love, aren’t the answer, what is?
That was that. I put the guitar away and nestled the lyrics in the back of an old journal for safe keeping, not sure if I’d ever come back to them later on.
But in October, the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting happened. 58 people were killed and hundreds injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the United States. I was numb. Again, I felt like I had to do something, and I pulled the lyrics back out. With fresh tears in my eyes, the verses spilled out onto the page. And in a matter of minutes, I knew the song was complete.
I’m fully aware that I can’t change the world with a song, but I do hope to leave it with a little more love. I truly do believe that love can be the answer to all things (especially in trying times), and I wanted the song to feel like I was having a difficult (but necessary) conversation with Love: I’m not asking you to move a mountain. I’m not asking you to be patient or kind. I’m not asking you to keep the world spinning. I’m not asking for a lot. But if you [love] aren’t the very thing to pull us out of all of these tragedies, then what is?
I started “All is Fair” during the Charlottesville protests and penned the last words the day after the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting. I’m an optimist - have and always will be - but even I succumb to a sense of hopelessness almost every time I turn on the morning news. I hold my breath, almost as if I’m bracing for impact. I can’t go to a concert or really any gathering of more than a handful of people without thinking, “What would I do if someone started shooting?” I subconsciously check for the exit signs. We’ve made such a damn mess. This is 2018. This is America. This is not okay.
Since I finished writing the song last October, dozens upon dozens of mass shootings have continued to occur in the United States: Stoneman Douglas High School, Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, Waffle House, Santa Fe High School, the Tree of Life Synagogue, Borderline Bar and Grill. Before those, it was Umpqua Community College, Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church, Virginia Tech, Pulse Nightclub, and Sandy Hook. I don’t even need to elaborate on any of these places — the tragic events they’ve been touched by are defined by just a few words. A church. A restaurant. A school. And these are just a handful of the hundreds of mass shootings that have plagued our country. This is 2018. This is America. This is not okay.
I want to stress that I am not trying to prevent people from owning guns. I am personally passionate about gun control, but I’m also aware that this is an extremely divisive subject. I support the Second Amendment, and while I never plan on owning a gun myself, I have no problem with others who do — so long as they are obtained legally, handled safely, and do not find themselves in the hands of the wrong individuals. Assault rifles belong on the battlefield — not in a movie theater, or a synagogue, or at a country music concert.
I’ve said enough (too much, probably). But I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: Love may not be the only answer, but it’s a good place to start. Love yourself. Love your family and friends. Love your neighbors. Love those strangers you pass on the street (you don’t know what they’re going through). Love, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to. The dead can’t fight, but those of us living can and will make this world a better place. I’m grateful to have a voice to speak up for those who no longer can. It could be me. It could be you.
I will continue to move forward with patience, understanding, and as much love as I can muster every single day. I’m going to fight for my own beliefs, but I will do so with love. I hope you join me.
Engineered & mixed by Bobby Chase
Mastered by Joe Causey at Voyager Mastering
Violin, Viola by Bobby Chase
Cello by Melodie Chase
Music Video by Hypeman
Art by Bobby Herb