I started thinking about writing this song while reading Micah White’s book The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, which explores tactics of resistance historically, and breaks down all these different theories of change, with emphasis on a pretty simple question: What actually works? What tactics of protest are more nostalgic than effective?
On January 27th, Executive Order 13769, otherwise titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (The Immigrant Ban) was signed by the executive branch. People in Seattle, and so many other places flooded to protest overnight at the airports. They carried a simple message: This is wrong. We can’t let this happen. We can do better as a society. There is another way forward.
Historian and political scientist Erica Chenoweth has said that system change can happen when 3.5% of a population is taking sustained nonviolent resistance. That’s a lot of people…but also a number that we can wrap our head around. So…what are we trying to change?
I wasn’t able to go that night, but I watched friends’ live streams and Facebook posts, and picked up my guitar. It was powerful to see that so many people’s gut response to the injustice of that act was direct action and nonviolent resistance. Almost immediately, lawyers got to work challenging the legality of the case. People organized to create safety networks and phone trees to protect their community from ICE raids. The forms of resistance were many, and they fed off of each other.
This song was my attempt to look at the emotional landscape of how we fight, what gifts we each bring, and the complexity of searching for leverage points within our systems to bring about change.
— Erika Lundahl
Jack be Nimble
V1. Don’t fight the way they want you to
Color in the lines won’t get your due
Got to go to the far out edge
Lean in to the love, lean in to the dread
They got paddy wagons at the court house
Where they are counting on you to be
So, occupy them airports, start praying
in the Wells Fargo Lobby
Ch.Jack be Nimble, Jill be quick
We’ll jump over the candle stick
The flame is higher than it’s ever been
If we don’t give it a go, the fire might win
V2. There’s no one coming to save us, but ourselves
So, tighten up those bootstraps
Pull the history books off the shelvesa
We got a new play book, a new playbook
But first we got to play
Won’t do no good spinning circles
to bring down a God that’s got no name
V3. Where the wind whips and the sun is red
spent days just hanging my head
Want to tear down this door
everything that ever came before
won’t do no good, fire and rain
enlisting in the army of a hurricane