The tradition of Woody Guthrie to use music to protest the injustice he saw around him has held up well over the years. From Pete Seger to Tom Paxton, to Woody’s son Arlo, on down to today, we have the folk/singer/songwriter playing the role of the American conscience. The latest singer to avail himself of this tradition is Richard Paul Thomas, and he has written a poignant song pointing up an issue that has divisively divided this country – immigration. Thomas has boiled down the issue to its base ingredients. He looks at this issue more as world problem, not just an American one – though we seem to hold a monopoly on abusing it. He details the salient points and presents it in a song that should resonate in the hearts and minds of any person open to seriously thinking about this problem and possible solutions, and not just making a knee jerk gut reaction.
Not only are the lyrics pointed, just listen to him describe a situation that has escalated beyond anything we may have initially imagined. He sings of people hearing about America, the land of the free and the brave, yet, upon arriving, they find themselves incarcerated and separated from their loved ones. The music itself lends an air of desperation to the problems he describes.
Sonically, this song is well done. Vocals are true (and the harmony vocal will ring the mental bell of anyone who follows her career), detail is intact, the acoustic instruments sound true in tone and timbre. There is not much of sound stage width and depth, but instruments are placed with precision, and there is a real sense of space around them.
Richard Paul Thomas has, with this song, elevated himself into the company of his predecessors in using music and song to point out something that maybe those of us who are not in the immediate area of the problem may tend to dismiss. But “The Cages Of Texas – A Migrants Song” is a song that should be played - often. Its message one that should find its way into the hearts and minds of all Americans, after all, unless you are a Native American, you and your ancestors were once migrants too. And despite what we may choose to tell ourselves, many of them did not enter this country legally either. Take a few minutes, listen for yourself, and see then if you can still ignore the plight of people who, like our ancestors, came to America in search of a better life.
September 29, 2020, John Crossett – Aural Musings