January 16, 2017
By Guy Blakeslee
The band's Guy Blakeslee premieres a protest song, and shares some of his favorite resistance tunes.
When the recent U.S. presidential election occurred, I was on tour in Paris, and I stayed up all night following the results and texting with my mother in Baltimore.
I had been in the UK and France already for more than a month, and had spent more than half of the past year in London. Having just traveled the entire U.S. on a summer tour, I was well aware of the possibility of such an outcome in a way that many on the coasts could not have been. Often during the campaign, overwhelmed by all of the cognitive dissonance and obvious discord in the States, obsessively scrolling the news and following the increasing fractured opinions and distorted information, I flirted with the idea of not even returning to the USA.
In a psychological state quite similar to mourning, I was inspired and comforted watching from afar on social media as friends and family joined hundreds of thousands of others in the streets and wished I could be there with them to say NO to hatred and regression and YES to love and continued communal progress.
While in Amsterdam a few days later, the idea for this song (“Not Gonna Say Your Name” ) came to me; I was writing a lot of angry words and I was desperately trying to figure out how to say something positive, to make some kind of contribution and offer a different way of thinking about the situation instead of just complaining and fixating on this person that so many of us can’t help but despise.
I was sitting in a hotel lobby on a rainy day and writing, and I overheard a conversation in which a group of young people, apparently from many different European countries, were talking about how they were now afraid to come to the USA. Would they be welcome? They were joking but it had an undertone of tragic sadness.
Nobody mentioned the name of the President-elect or even the election, but it was understood what they were talking about. Then the idea clicked for the chorus of the song: “I’m not gonna say your name.”
I realized that we were going to have to come together to fight this negative agenda in so many ways, but that a part of the problem has been our continued willingness to give airtime to the things we oppose, to keep repeating the name of this figurehead of dark forces who thrives on attention whether it’s negative or positive. So, the song came together quickly.
Originally, I was writing to the melody of “Amazing Grace” and I performed it at my next show in London. As soon as I got back to LA, I started organizing a recording session with Hale May and Lael Neale, two amazing vocalists that also sang on my new record that is coming out next month. It was important to have these powerful female voices carrying the song because the message is that we are united in our defense of all the vulnerable people in this country and this world, and women’s rights are threatened by this incoming regime.
Buy ‘Not Gonna Say Your Name’ here. All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood was an obvious choice to support with the proceeds because their funding is under attack and they provide so many important health services for women, many of whom are going to have a much harder time getting the care that they need if PP isn’t there to help them.
I could go on and on about what I personally oppose about this new government that is about to assume power, but I feel better about recognizing what I can do to help and doing it, rather than getting bogged down in fear or complaints. Above all, I hope the song speaks to the hearts of people who feel the same way and gives some inspiration or comfort, because we have a long battle ahead and we need strength and we need love and we need each other.