Sunday, 19 January 2020
DZTN 1980 - He Watched Them Die
"First they came ..." is the poetic form of a prose post-war confession first made in German in 1946 by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). It is about the cowardice of German intellectuals and certain clergy (including, by his own admission, Niemöller himself) following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent incremental purging of their chosen targets, group after group. Many variations and adaptations in the spirit of the original have been published in the English language. It deals with themes of persecution, guilt, repentance, and responsibility.
Today's song made me think of "First They Came..." It's a song that shows how you don't have to be shouting at a wall to get your point across, sometimes simmering rage works equally as well. A whisper can be more powerful than a roar.
Last year when I featured Ugly Feeling by Portland punks Abolitionist, I mentioned that they looked to have called it a day. I'm not certain they'll never be back but in the meantime the band's vocalist Dustin Herron is going down the solo route. It's just him, an electric guitar, amp and microphone. No hanging about though, already he's released a debut album under the name DZTN 1980 (https://www.facebook.com/DZTN1980/). The album's titled Outside The City and it's available digitally as a name your price download : https://dztn1980.bandcamp.com/album/outside-the-city-lp-2020
The album consists of 13 tracks. Though a solo project, it's still very powerful. There's an undercurrent of menace as the songs interlink. The lyrics feature lines such as " Behind the scenes they formed their plan...They gathered intel on every piece of scum" and "Any free society could be erased." There's "This was a perfect time to put everyone in line, up against the wall" and "He remembered the good old days like a slap in the face, back before speaking out got you thrown in a cage." Paranoia and dawning realisation abound. There's also fighting back and maybe a hint of optimism... "It was time to strike back, time to fight. He had said never again, not ever again. It was time to fight." "The "good old days" ... but now they had more in store. Gonna be okay. It was his lucky day. Gonna be okay."
It's a fascinating album that conjures up (to me at least) thoughts of Orwell, Bradbury and Dick. It's an album to be listened to as a whole rather than cherry picked through. Very enjoyable and thought provoking indeed.
This is He Watched Them Die...
It was a crisp, sunny November day when everything came to a head. He was walking his usual walk, doing his best to drink in the fresh morning air. Taking in the sound of the birds, chattering away (like most birds do), when he heard shouting up ahead, a chorus of angry voices that crashed together like a wave on a rocky beach. At first, he didn't recognize the faces that looked down from their tenuous perch below the maple trees. He thought it was weird to see the four of them with ropes around their necks. "What the fuck is this? Do I really see what I see?" he thought to himself as he froze where he stood. So, it was in disbelief that he watched them fall in a such a violent way toward the ground below, just stopping short. He watched them die. The mob that had gathered were overseen by a small group of ugly men dressed in ugly clothes. The purplish hue that had overtaken the four faces were more beautiful than that cloth. The chorus of angry voices slowly died away as those on display stopped their swinging and kicking. He wanted to kick and swing, too, at every single one of 'em, he wanted to rip their fucking eyes out, but he just watched instead. As he stood there, frozen like an antelope trying to pretend the stalking lion couldn't smell it, something occurred to him. He knew who those four faces had belonged to, he recognized his own personal connection to the moment. One was a teacher he'd had in high school, another a school nurse sometime before that. It was then that he realized that things had turned for the worse, and that things could not be the same as before ...