GENRE: Country blues, Experimental folk, Avant-pop
RELEASE DATE: Monday 16th August 2021
LABEL: Sonically Depicting
ARTIST: Bell Lungs ft. Lewis Oxbrow
This song is inspired by the letter which Jourdon Anderson sent in 1865 to Colonel Patrick Henry Anderson, the man who “owned” Jourdon and his family until slavery was abolished. The Colonel had written to beg Jourdon and his wife to come back and work for him, an offer which Jourdon artfully declined in a biting letter which pulled no punches.
Lewis and I have never collaborated before, and come from quite different songwriting approaches, so we started by talking at length about the kind of person Jourdon Anderson was. We were struck at how he continued to serve his community on his own terms following his freedom from slavery. He became a sexton in a church, and we felt that his faith was of immense importance to him, as it is referred to several times throughout his letter. He also calls the Colonel’s plantation his home, and mentions how much he would like to return, but his self-respect means he could only do so if the Colonel paid Jourdon and his wife the backdated wages they are owed. Lewis and I tried to imagine what that position would feel like, if slavery was all that someone had ever known. Jourdon clearly had a sense of humour, and while we felt he might have had a degree of sadness at never being able to return to the physical place he clearly had affection for, we are convinced he was more satisfied leading the new life he had made as a free man.
We also drew on the sound of 1920s and 1930s folk and gospel music from the American South, and this song pays homage to that. We were inspired by then-common themes of freedom and the concept that being “truly free” isn’t possible until after death, when the protagonist reaches heaven.