In the time that I have known Ryan Flaherty and Erika Stahl one thing has been abundantly clear about the duo known as Muddy Ruckus: no matter what they are doing; be it performing on a stage, watching others make music or just giving you a hug to say hello; they put their whole hearts into it.
Sometimes what the heart feels, however, isn’t joy or jubilance or positivity. Its can be pain or frustration or anger. Flaherty has been justifiably upset with the current state of affairs within the country and to project those emotions and feelings he did what he knows how to do best, write about it and pour his heart into playing the songs that sprang forth from the turbulence that perpetuates our (now) every day lives. Of the record he says,”There is definitely more to these songs than usual and I worked on them for a long time. I started writing them back when all the pipeline stuff in North Dakota was happening. I was so upset about how they treated the Native Americans and protestors of Standing Rock…and the outcome.
He continues,”The second song… when I sing “I’ve been thinking about leaving town” that is referring to wanting to leave and go join the protestors in North Dakota.. and then “I keep singing the same empty song” meaning I’m not helping by sitting at home not doing anything. I need to go join the fight with my brothers and sisters.
Of the time between writing those first words in response to Standing Rock and the release of them today he says, “The second phase of writing both tunes happened after Trump was elected. I was again, so very upset and mad… and all that fake press shit and lies he kept spewing. The words definitely reflect that and the overall corrupt system. Last phase of writing, we were kind of playing them out at shows unfinished, not really sure where were going, then the tragedy in Charlottesville happened and that was it. These songs came full circle, for me at least, and totally made sense to me… I had to get them out. It’s done now. I’m lucky my friend volunteered to record them the other day.”
Ryan continues, ““Awakening Enkindle” could be viewed as an angry letter written to the crooked ‘establishment’ that holds power in this country and the world. It could also be viewed as a spell or ‘voodoo doll’ style song, cursing and casting a hex of disapproval and disgust upon those philistines and fascist that hold power. This song is also a call for people to wake up, get together and stand up for their values, love and peace. Hence “Awakening Enkindle”. But it’s also a lament. They were not intended to be protest songs… not even sure if they are… but we all know what has been going on over the past several months… and that’s when they were written. We were lucky enough to have the help of Anthony Gatti in Scarborough, ME who volunteered his time and studio to record the songs. We recorded them last Sunday, Aug 20th in about 3 hours time.”
Indeed, they are here and you should take note. I don’t necessarily all artists should be chained to writing politically charged songs or creating politically charged images or using your art to relay that message, but if this is something that hurts you, or irks you, or makes you sad I fully appreciate and respect the artists that do use the conduit of song or image to get those feelings out. For the rest of us, the art is here for us to digest and make us feel those feelings. Feel connected to others who are feeling the same way. And to Ryan and Erika I say “thank you” for sharing your songs with us. There is a lot of heart in this and it shows.