The Muteflutes are a Michigan Indie Folk Rock band out of the Grand Rapids area. In 2014, this blog recognized them for writing one of the 5 best contemporary economic justice songs. More significantly, the Muteflutes won a 2015 Jammie Award for Michigan’s Best Contemporary Folk Album. It wasn’t until I simultaneously discovered the Muteflutes and the vibrant Michigan folk scene a number of years ago that I realized that music can be consistently entertaining and enlightening.
This year the Muteflutes released their third album Hideway Love. Among the 11 impressive tracks is a gem they just released called “System.” “System” touches on both economic justice and social justice themes. The song starts out with the lyrics “Someday all the teachers will be paid fairly for what they do, and all the farmers millionaires, it’s the food that sees us through. And those that manage hedge funds and promote the corporate greed, will be wishing they were teaching at a school just down the street.” Then the song launches into a chorus made up primarily of the words “This just won’t do.”
The second verse sets out for social justice with the lyrics “As unarmed children walk the streets get shot down by grown up men, and those who vowed to protect us have the blood upon their hands, and the politicians argue over bills they’ll never pass, but no amount of grief or rage will bring the children back. ” Audio clips from the news accounts of the Trayvon Martin killing are woven into the song to remind us these lyrics aren’t works of fiction.
With state and national politics being what they are, we are unlikely to see leadership for social or economic justice from the top. However, “System” reminds us that you and I are also the “system” and by changing ourselves and our communities “we can change our system.” In other words, if we start showing more support for teachers, farmers, and other workers, we can move towards greater economic justice. If we can push for changes to our justice system, beginning with community policing, we can obtain a greater level of social justice. “System” reminds us that all this is possible and also entertains us along the way.