Tyler Childers' Long Violent History, a surprise album of old-time fiddle tunes, ends with a title track which finds Childers challenging others from the Appalachian region to practice empathy when they read headlines about police brutality toward African Americans.
Childers also shared a six-minute video in which he further explains why his rural listeners should be more willing to discuss and combat systemic racism.
"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 says in the video before offering other analogies. "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 continues. "Why would we stand silent while it happened, or worse, get in the way of it being rectified?"
Childers goes on to suggest that his fellow Southerners and residents of Appalachia should look to less polarizing ways of uplifting regional tradition, such as learning to play the sorts of tunes on his old-time fiddle album.
"We can stop being so taken aback by Black Lives Matter," he says. "If we didn't need to be reminded, there would be justice for Breonna Taylor, a Kentuckian like me, and countless others. We can start looking for ways to preserve our heritage outside lazily defending a flag with history steeped in racism and treason."
In all, "Long Violent History" and its accompanying video is one of the most heartfelt and eloquent statements on our current situation from a country artist (or an Americana darling, if we're being frank).
As for the fiddle tunes, Childers has only been playing the new album's featured instrument for less than a year. His style is influenced by bandmate Jesse Wells. Childers is joined by fellow old-time music enthusiasts Dom Flemons, John Haywood, Andrew Marlin, Josh Oliver, John R. Miller, Chloe Edmonstone and Cecelia Wright.
Selections from the Appalachian songbook include "Camp Chase," "Midnight on the Water" and "Bonaparte's Retreat."
Net proceeds from the new album will go to the Hickman Holler Appalachian Relief Fund, which aids underserved communities in the Appalachian region. Childers founded the fund with his wife, fellow songwriter Senora May.
It's Childers' first new music since the 2019 album Country Squire, which earned a Grammy award nomination for the song "All Your'n."
"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
Been passed off as factual when actually, the actual
Causes they're awkwardly blockin' the way
Keeping us all from enjoyin' our evening
Shoving its roots through the screens in our face
Now, what would you give 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 m??
It's called me bellig?rent, it's took me for ignorant
But it ain't never once made me scared just to be
Could you imagine just constantly worryin'
Kickin' and fightin', beggin' to breathe?
How many boys could they haul off this mountain
Shoot full of holes, cuffed and laid in the streets
Til we come in to town in a stark ravin' anger
Looking for answers and armed to the teeth?
Thirty aught sixes, Papaw's old pistol
How many, you reckon, would it be, four or five?
Oh, would that be the start of a long, violent history
Tuckin' our tails as we try to abide?
Would that be the start of a long, violent history
Tuckin' our tails as we try to abide?