Thursday, February 01, 2007

[JFP] The Ballad of Charlie Moore and Henry Dee

by Matt Saldaña
Image courtesy Marla Moore
January 31, 2007

We found Marla Moore’s freshly penned lyrics on her “Punk Rasta” myspace page this week and asked to publish them.

Matt Saldaña called and spoke with Moore Tuesday about the song she wrote for two fallen Mississippians.

What drew you to the Charles Moore and Henry Dee story?

I read (Donna Ladd’s) story and the song just came out of me. It’s not a logical process; it’s a supernatural process. A lot of people have that connection, because they don’t stand just for themselves. Between Maryland, where I live, and Mississippi, how many bodies are out there that will never be claimed? We have to explore them, and that’s what I do as an artist. That’s what your paper did: give them a voice.

You begin the song by saying, “This is the kind of song no one should ever write.” What did you mean?

No one should have to ever write this song, because it shouldn’t happen. Just as with songs like (Bob Dylan’s) “The Death of Emmet Till” and “Hurricane” and (Richard Farina’s) “Birmingham Sunday,” not every song is going to be a happy song. I’m also alluding to the fact that, at the time, no one really wanted to tell the story. Because of fear, they let them be buried.

You write, “Two graves remain unquiet, breaking 40 years of silence.” How did you react to the news that, after 40 years of silence, James Seale was finally arrested?

I feel that this is important because we have (the deaths of) iconic figures in pop culture, such as Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur and Jon-Benet Ramsey, in which the public seems to get caught up in the whys and wherefores, but we forget about the human cost. It’s an ongoing process of finding justice. No one can mourn fully until there’s justice. The community needs to know you can’t just do these kinds of things and get away with it. Right now we have the largest group of hate Web sites—racism and intolerance are at an all-time high right now. But when you see people banning together, it makes you more optimistic. Part of me thinks (Seale) is too old to suffer, for as much as he should, but I feel like—Henry and Charles—I feel like I know them. I feel like it’s what they wanted.

[View the entire article at the Jackson Free Press.]