Surprise album from Ky. native Tyler Childers addresses racism

‘Long Violent History’ is available now.
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 11:55 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - New music from country artist Tyler Childers came with a heartfelt message urging empathy and an end to systemic racism.

Long Violent History” was unexpectedly released on Friday.

The album includes eight songs of string band music, building up to the ninth and title track, which Childers describes as an observation of our current times.

“From the outsider’s perspective, it’s hard to see where all this visceral anger is coming from,” Childers said in a six-minute YouTube video introducing the album. “What I believe to be one of the biggest obstacles in pinpointing the cause of this is our inability to empathize with another individual’s or group’s plight.”

In the video, Childers appeals to his “white, rural listeners,” urging them to do self-examination on the issue, if they are not already, and try to understand what those in the Black community are going through.

“What if we were to constantly open up our daily paper and see a headline like ‘East Kentucky man shot seven times on fishing trip,’ and read on to find the man was shot while fishing with his son by a game warden who saw him rummaging through his tackle box for his license and thought he was reaching for a knife?” Childers asked in the video, before citing several other analogous examples. "How would we react to that? What form of upheaval would that create? I venture to say if we were met with this type of daily attack on our own people, we would take action in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Battle of Blair Mountain in West Virginia.

“If we wouldn’t stand for it, why would we expect another group of Americans to stand for it?” he asked. “Why would we stand silent while it happened, or worse, get in the way of it being rectified?”

Childers encouraged people to take several steps, including voting out “the people who have been in power and let this go unnoticed” and looking for ways to preserve Southern and Appalachian heritage “outside of lazily defending a flag with history steeped in racism and treason.”

He added: “We can stop being so taken aback by Black Lives Matter if we didn’t need to be reminded there would be justice for Breonna Taylor, a Kentuckian like me, and countless others.”

Childers ended the video by urging folks to come together.

“Love each other, no exceptions,” he said. “And remember, united we stand. Divided we fall.”

You can listen to or purchase the album here.

All net proceeds from “Long Violent History” will go to help underserved communities in the Appalachian region through the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund, established by Childers and Senora May.

“Long Violent History” lyrics:

It’s the worst that it’s been since the last time it happened

It’s happening again right in front of our eyes

There’s updated footage, wild speculation,

Tall tales, and hearsay, and absolute lies

Being passed off as factual

When actually the actual

Cause is there awkwardly blocking the way

Keeping us all from enjoying our evening

Shoving its roots through the screens in our face

Now what would you get if you heard my opinion

Conjecturin' on matters that I ain’t never dreamed

In all my born days as a white boy from Hickman

Based on the way that the world’s been to me

It’s called me belligerent,

It’s took me for ignorant

But it ain’t never once made me scared just to be

Could you imagine just constantly worrying

Kicking, and fighting, and begging to breathe

How many boys could they haul off this mountain

Shoot full of holes cuffed and laying in the street

‘Till we’d come into town in a stark ravin’ anger

Looking for answers and armed to the teeth,

With thirty-aught-sixes,

And Papaw’s old pistol.

How many you reckon?

Would it be four or five?

Or would that be the start of a long Violent History of tucking our tails as we try to abide?

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