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Sister, Oh Sister.
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PAUL ZOLLO GIVES KENNY MULLINS
"SISTER, OH SISTER" A RAVE REVIEW IN AMERICAN SONGWRITER MAGAZINE.
Paul Zollo is the author of several
books including those on the craft of songwriting. He is an
accomplished songwriter and singer who has collaborated with many
songwriters and is currently a journalist who has contributed to
Rolling Stone, Variety, and Musician Magazine.
Sister, Oh Sister
Review by Paul Zollo -
American Songwriter Magazine
There are great singer-songwriters who write songs of protest and
outrage, like Dylan, who felt his job was to write, not to march in
protests. Then there are the others, like Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and
Jackson Browne, who always did both. They wrote the songs for the
protesters to sing, and then they showed up themselves, holding
signs, fighting for change. Kenny Mullins is in the latter group:
he’s a deeply spiritual songwriter who writes songs of conscience
and social change, but also does everything he can to effect that
change. Songwriters are, by definition, people who feel things very
deeply. To write an effective song, there’s no other way to be.
Mullins has connected powerfully with the history of Native
Americans, and their subsequent slaughter. The destruction of the
eons of peace in which they lived here both haunts and informs these
songs. The opening cut sings the names of the tribes – every one of
which was decimated and ultimately destroyed – and sets it against
the chanting of Native Americans. The result is powerful. This isn’t
going to be a lightweight trip. “Ghosts of Wounded Knee” begins with
a beautiful prayer: “Hold on to what is good, even if it is a
handful of earth. Hold onto what you believe even if it is a tree
that stands by itself.” It is the understanding at the heart of this
beautiful album, that every life – and every handful of earth – is
sacred. Unlike most modern songwriters, Kenny honors and celebrates
the sacred. Not the sacred separated from man, reachable only in
church or temple, but the sacred in everyday – the sacred in every
soul – the sacred in the mission of the songwriter to effect change.
Words cannot contain the spirit which radiates from these songs.
Suffice it to say that when people suggest songwriting is limited,
and cannot express that which means the most to the enduring and
unified spirit of all humans, a songwriter like Kenny Mullins comes
along to remind us just how much can be done, and how gracefully.
Dylan said that nobody needs any more songs, that the world has
enough as it is. But he added – “Unless someone comes along with a
pure heart.” That pure heart shines in all of these songs.
Native American Quotes and
☼ Great Spirit—I want no blood upon my land to
stain the grass. I want it all clear and pure, and I wish it so,
that all who go through among my people may find it peaceful when
they come, and leave peacefully when they go.
☼ When I was a boy, the Sioux owned the world. The
sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand men to
Where are our warriors today? Who slew them?
Where are our lands? Who owns them?
What white man can say I ever stole his land or a
penny of his money?
Yet they say I am a thief.
What white woman, however lonely, was ever captive
or insulted by me? Yet they say I am a bad Indian.
What white man has ever seen me drunk? Who has
ever come to me hungry and left unfed? Who has ever seen me beat my
wives or abuse my children? What law have I broken?
Is it wrong for me to love my own?
Is it wicked for me because my skin is red?
Because I am a Sioux? Because I was born where my
Because I would die for my people and my country?
☼ Angry people want you to see how powerful they
Loving people want you to see how powerful you
Chief Red Eagle
☼ Listen, now. You cannot sell the ground you walk
☼ Grandfather, I ask you to bless the white man.
He needs your wisdom, your guidance. He’s tried so long to destroy
my people and only feels comfortable when given power. Bless them
with your wisdom. Show them the peace we understand. Teach them
humility, for I feel that they will destroy themselves and their
children as they have done so with Mother Earth. I plead, I cry.
After all, they are my brother.
☼ Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen
with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that
can be found in silence.
☼ Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful
Hold on to what you believe, even if it is a tree
which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it is a long
way from here.
Hold on to life, even if it si easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand, even when I have gone away
☼ We do not want churches because they will teach
us to quarrel about God, as the Catholics and Protestants do. We do
not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on
But we never quarrel about God. We do not want to
☼ We return thanks to our mother, the earth, who
We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which
supply us with water.
We return thanks to the all the herbs, which
furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given us their
light when the sun is gone.
We return thanks to the sun, which has looked upon
the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied
all goodness, and Who directs all things for the good of Her
☼ Oh, Great Spirit, have mercy upon us so that we
may live with our relatives. Grand Father, hear our voices for we
are small. Oh, Great Spirit, see that we come to you in a good way.
Help us to see and recognize and understand our place in this great
circle of life. Grand Father, we give thanks to you for this day and
all the blessings we have received from you.
☼ I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty
I walk with beauty above me. I walk with beauty
below me. o:p>
Beauty has been restored from the East.
Beauty has been restored from the South.
Beauty has been restored from the West.
Beauty has been restored from the North.
Beauty has been restored from the sky-top.
Beauty has been restored earth-bottom.
Beauty has been restored from all around me.