By Don Franzen
“Can a song written ten years ago change the world?”
That’s the question posed by “Why Do We Build the Wall,” a song written a decade ago by Vermont-based singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell as part of her folk opera Hadestown, which sets the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a post-apocalyptic depression-era America.
Last year Mitchell’s vision was realized, in more ways than one. Hadestown opened at the New York Theater Workshop and proved to be an off-Broadway hit.
One of the songs in Mitchell’s folk opera, “Why Do We Build the Wall,” is eerily prescient. In it, King Hades extolls the wall he has ordered his subjects to erect around his kingdom, telling them “it’s the Wall that keeps us free.”
The original cast was recorded live and now the album documenting this show is available on pre-sale in advance of its October release by Warner/Ghostlight.
King Hades’ question haunts us even more today than last year as the President threatens to bring the government to a halt if he doesn’t get an appropriation to erect a barrier between the US and Mexico.
More than ever, we need to ask: do we want a world of walls that keep us apart? Or is there a better way to keep ourselves free?
Don Franzen is an executive producer of the Hadestown EP album