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Do or Die

by Ani DiFranco

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“Unprecedented numbers of Americans have poured into the streets for months now, in the midst of a pandemic, to demand a reckoning with white supremacy once and for all. Black Lives Matter and it is time for Americans to stand up now. Heed the lesson of 2016: this is not a shoe-in. In November, we will need to vote in such massive numbers as to overwhelm massive corruption. Not only must we vote out [#votethemout], we must vote in enough people to pass The Breathe Act! We’ve got to vote in people all the way down the ballot who will enact meaningful policy change which rises to this historic moment and heeds the call of the American people for justice. Insistent, tenacious, against-all-odds voter participation this November will become the difference between life and death for many. Nothing will stem the tide of suffering from COVID-19, economic crisis, police brutality, mass incarceration, endemic poverty, entrenched white supremacy and misogyny, deportation and detainment, gun violence, fire, flood, disease, pollution, irradiation, exploitation, forced reproduction, gender and sexuality-based violence and oppression, dis-information, propaganda, corruption, and greed... short of a functioning democracy! Let’s harness our outrage and vote. We can do this, if we try, if we do this like it’s do or die.

i recorded this song in a semi-abandoned strip mall in durham, north carolina, with some very talented musicians from that area. we all came out of isolation for the session and i wore a mask except when i was in front of a microphone singing. i didn’t know any of the players before the session. the group was put together by brad cook and included his brother phil cook on keys, yan westerlund on drums, brevan hampden on percussion and matt douglas on flute. later, my touring compadre terence higgins overdubbed some more percussion and a string quartet called delgani was added in eugene, oregon, arranged by my other touring companion, todd sickafoose. pandemic productions!" --Ani

lyrics

do you ever just want to give up?
me too
are you shocked by what people get
get used to?
do you wake up in a cold sweat?
that’s sane
least you got a little brain left
you got a little brain

cuz there’s foxes in the hen house
and bad news every day
and right there on pennsylvania avenue
the sheet-less kkk
and there’s models wielding microphones
chasing maniacs around
and everything’s on fire
and there’s twisters touching down

and i know you got to fight your adrenaline
just to be a gentleman
and you know i got to fight my amygdala
just to keep hearin ya

but we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die
yes, we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die

so let’s pause
let us regroup
let us recover
let us recoup
let us remember
that we are charmed
let us look down at our hands
and remember we’re armed

cuz yankee doodle dandy didn’t feel free once
so, he used his pen to pick the locks
and yankee doodle dandy did some doosey kind of carpentry
when he fashioned that ballot box

and if you think your vote doesn’t matter
then you’re not paying attention
yes, everything they do
they do to keep you from their invention

yes, if you think your vote doesn’t matter
then you’re not paying attention
everything they do
they do to keep you from their invention

but we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die
yes, we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die

do you ever just want to give up?
well, me too
are you shocked by what people get
get used to?
do you wake up in a cold sweat?
well, that’s sane
least you got a little brain left
you got a little brain

and we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die
yes, we can do this
if we try
if we do this
like it’s do or die

credits

released September 30, 2020
Written by Ani
Guitar and vocals - Ani
Drums - Yan Westerlund
Percussion - Brevan Hampden
Triangle, crazy stick - Terence Higgins
Wurlitzer, organ - Phil Cook
Flute - Matt Douglas
Strings Arrangement, bass - Todd Sickafoose
Strings - Delgani
Mixer - Tchad Blake
Mastering - Brent Lambert

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Ani DiFranco New Orleans, Louisiana

Grammy winner and feminist icon Ani DiFranco began her career as a proponent of the artist-run label, creating her own Righteous Babe Records in 1990. Since then she has released over twenty studio albums and supported a broad range of social causes including racial justice, reproductive rights, gender equality, environmental issues and prison reform. ... more

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