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Song Of The Weekend: John Gorka – “Ignorance and Privilege”


I have been a huge fan of the holiday song “Christmas Bells” by John Gorka for quite some time now.  It was only recently that I took the time to explore his wider catalogue.   All I can say is “wow.”  He is a very talented singer-songwriter who should be heard by a much wider audience.  I’m sad I took so long to realize this because I have missed many great albums and songs.  Maybe it is the folk music classification that I often see associated with his name that limits his exposure, but my feeling is that music like his should transcend genre.  It takes a very talented artist to hold an audience with just his voice and guitar.  

Besides being a great guitar player, John comes across as part poet and part storyteller.  Every one of his songs is rife with meaning and intent.   You get the sense that he is a man who pays attention to the world around him, feels things deeply and has something to say (that is worth listening to).   The song “Ignorance and Privilege” from his most recent album is a perfect example of this:

I was born to ignorance, yes, and lesser poverties
I was born to privilege that I did not see
Lack of pigment in my skin, won a free and easy in
I didn’t know it, but my way was paved

I grew up a Catholic boy, in a northeastern state
A place when asked ‘Where you from’, some people tend to hesitate
Reply a little late, as if maybe you didn’t rate
I was born to privilege and ignorance.

My dad ran a printing press, a tag and label factory
I may have seen it as a child, now a distant memory
Almost too faint to see, dark red brick factory
I didn’t know it but my way was paved

We moved from a city street, shortly after I arrived
To a house on a gravel road, where I learned to be alive
Crawl, walk, run and ride, that’s where I learned to come alive
I didn’t know it, but my way was paved

If the wind is at your back and you never turn around
You may never know the wind is there
You may never hear the sound

Got to grow and go to school, work at home and dream at night
Even be a college fool, like I had any right
Never went through a war, never Great Depression poor
I didn’t know it, but my way was paved

Nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel
Back against the wall, maybe you know how it feels

If the wind is at your back and you never turn around
You may never know the wind is there
You may never hear the sound

I was born to ignorance, yes, and lesser poverties
I was born to privilege that I did not see
Lack of pigment in my skin, won a free and easy in
I didn’t know it but my way was paved
I was born to ignorance and privilege.

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