I have two children. My son is eight—almost nine—and my daughter is four and a half. They attend public schools in Durham, North Carolina. My wife—the person that I've traveled through life with for nearly 20 years—is a public school teacher in Durham. My mom and dad were public educators in California for the entirety of their careers. My sister is a public high school counselor. So gun attacks on schools is something that—though I would prefer not to—I spend a lot of time thinking about.
My daughter is small and slight, with her long blonde hair usually tied up in a messy braid. My wife and I joke that she has bird bones. Her eyes are huge and expressive; slate blue, like her mom's. She wears tiny purple glasses and scuffed pink cowboy boots and ladybug print tutus. She loves her older brother fiercely and unconditionally, and knows how to push his every single button. She's moody and magnetic, deep and unknowable to adults. As the smallest member of the family, she is the dancing emotional center around which our house revolves.
Many late nights, long after the family has all gone to sleep, she'll stand silhouetted in our doorway long enough for me to sense her presence. I'll lift my head from the pillow and in a small voice she'll say, “I'm scared.” I'll pull her into bed, putting my arms around her and pulling her close into our sleeping warmth, her breath coming slow and peaceful and regular again. And I'll stay awake for just a moment longer, long enough to be thankful for how easy it was to calm her fears, thankful that I can protect her.
If a gunman were to enter the grounds of my daughter's school with an assault rifle, where would she hide? She's small, so maybe she could hide in her cubby, or maybe in the bathroom, the one without the window. Maybe she could hide under the play structure, or in the box of dress-up clothes. Would she cry out? Would she stay still and silent, her big eyes tracking the shooter's movement? How would she metabolize her terror, this tiny four and a half year old in a ladybug tutu, without me to protect her, to pull her close? Would she wonder why we let this happen to her? Would she get that far?
Say it simple.
I'm gonna give it to you simple now.
If you're worried
It's OK, I've been worried too
Now I ask you:
If love's bigger, what's it matter what's after?
And I know that.
You gotta put a little skin in to get a little skin back
Red-tail hawk told me well, with the black sun going down,
“Signs and wonders—hear me now—for those who stop to understand them.”
Hang on a passing cloud.
IT'S MORNING, I'M ALIVE NOW.
Signs and wonders—hear me now—for those who stop to understand them.
Now you know me.
I love you and I'm faithful.
I'm a river.
And I bend like a rainbow.
Signs and wonders. Just a little bit of thunder now.
Feel all the colors.
Love's bigger than what's under.
I believe gun laws need to change. So I am now committed to performing whatever actions are within my power push that stone forward. We've been told for so long that a change in gun laws is next to impossible. It is not. We've been told that the NRA, and the politicians whom they buy, are too powerful. They are not. The young people in Parkland, Florida, have proven that. I am on their side. I am on the side of peace, hope and love, on the side of grieving parents and spouses and co-workers in Parkland and Newtown, in Aurora and Las Vegas. As Sly Stone says, “My only weapon is my pen.” But it's a mighty weapon indeed that works to bring light to dark places. Signs and wonders. Just a little bit of thunder now.
This song was recorded with the Spacebomb family—a collection of musicians with deep kinship and connection to Hiss Golden Messenger—in Richmond, Virginia, on February 7th, 2018. They love their families and friends in the same ways that I do mine. I was proud and honored to work with them on this song.
All proceeds from “Passing Clouds” and “Passing Clouds Dub” will benefit Everytown, a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. I urge you to perform your own small actions of peace whenever and wherever you can. We can make the world we want to live in.
No spiritual surrender.
—M.C. Taylor, Durham, NC
released March 21, 2018
Songwriter: M.C. Taylor / Prophecy Connection, BMI
M.C. Taylor: lead vocals, background vocals
Alan Parker: guitar
Matthew E. White: guitar
Devonne Harris: keyboards, hammond B3 organ
Cameron Ralston: bass guitar
Pinson Chanselle: drums & percussion
Jessica Fox: background Vocals
Produced by Cameron Ralston
A Spacebomb Production
Recorded by Adrian Olsen at Montrose Recording, Richmond, VA
Mixed by Adrian Olsen
Mastered by Chris Boerner
"Passing Clouds Dub"
Produced by Cameron Ralston and Matthew E. White
Mixed by Cameron Ralston and Matthew E. White
Mastered by Chris Boerner