The 49th Parallel

I think of holding you when the patrols come through
Looking for vagrants and looking for migrants
And looking for copies of the Koran
Breaking my windows in just 'cause they can

What can I do in this nation of sinners
Does Canada still get cold in the winter?
And do you still say grace before dinner?
I lost my faith right about when you went there

Now crossing over is impossible when
Coyotes charge 80k for each person
And every damn week there are dozens of incidents
More people shot climbing over the fence

Monsters in riot gear mowing down innocent
Once-proud American victims of circumstance
Tired-ass love songs drown out the screams
Oh my love, these days what does love even mean?

Not that it matters but I saw your ex-husband
The kids are still cute but damn he looks shattered
I guess we all do, time just moves faster
When we know how it all ends and we're running away from the past

He hates me, but I gave you freedom
Freedom to leave him, and freedom to leave us
And freedom to follow your feelings for Jesus
Freedom to flee over the northern border

Before the sharpshooters got their new orders
Boasting of kill rates at night in their quarters
Thirsty for blood since the exodus started
You're just brown enough to have made a good target

Some mornings I wake up and just for a moment
Forget that I live in the zone of the broken
And you don't anymore, of course, because you went to be
In a safer place that I'll never see

Oh, my love, did we ever think anything would change?


From Nadalands - The New Day EP (August 24, 2018)

The 49th Parallel The border between Canada and the US west of Lake of the Woods was established in 1818. This is the closest international border to Fort Collins, Colorado (664 miles as opposed to the 700 miles to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico).

patrols Policing in the US has become increasingly militarized after 9/11.

vagrants Vagrancy laws are so back in California, the UK, and even Canada.

migrants Neo-fascist and other far-right political parties are often anti-immigration.

Koran The holy book of Islam; demonization of the Koran reflects growing American Islamaphobia.

sinners Currently sinners (in the view of the religious addressee) for being a fascist dictatorship, previously sinners for a long history of crimes (foreign and domestic)

Canada This song was written shortly after the passing of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. Other Cohen tribute songs include "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana, "Leonard" by Sharon Van Etten, "Leonard Cohen" by boygenius, and "We Danced" by Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden. The theme of fleeing an autocratic U.S. regime into Canada is central to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, who is also Canadian.

cold in the winter Canada, a major per capita emitter of greenhouse gases, is warming due to anthropogenic climate change

Coyotes human smugglers, named for their activities at the southwestern U.S. border

fence a border security apparatus already operating in San Diego (California), Melilla (Spain), and the West Bank (Israel/Palestine)

riot gear the embodied militarization of law enforcement

Tired-ass love songs Rather than protest songs, America distracts itself from political turmoil with this. Murderer and music producer Phil Spector once held a gun to Cohen's head, and also produced some vapid pop.

ex-husband Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat," also in the second person, addresses a wife's lover (presumably Cohen himself, who owned the raincoat) in the voice of the husband. In contrast, this Nadalands song is in the voice of a lover, addressing an ex-wife. Both speakers (selfishly) suggest that the affairs benefited the women.

feelings for Jesus The state of Gilead in The Handmaid's Tale was driven by Christian zealotry. In contrast, this song's addressee's Christian faith causes her to oppose the neo-fascist American government. Leonard Cohen was born to Orthodox Jewish parents but also was curious about other religious faiths, living at a Buddhist monestary in the 1990s and mentioning Scientology in "Famous Blue Raincoat." The speaker of this Nadalands song does not share the addressee's religious faith or hope for the future.

exodus the second book of the Old Testament and Jewish Torah, a 1960 Paul Newman movie about the formation of the state of Israel, and a 1977 Bob Marley anthem. The original story details God's chosen people fleeing an oppressive Pharoah. Here the song's addressee is chosen by God, not the speaker. Bob Marley was a Rastafarian, lending his songs an emancipatory optimism that is not echoed by this song's atheist speaker. A strange (and quite untrue) conspiracy theory claims that Marley was killed by the CIA, which would be in keeping with the murderous U.S. state depicted in this song.

brown Critics of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 claim it encourages racial profiling in immigration control.