By the time you read this, Detroit leaders may have already reached a deal to avoid a state takeover. Or not. City council was scheduled to meet as of this posting to decide whether to sign a consent agreement with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s administration.
The agreement could still be blocked in the courts, causing further confusion and panic in a city that’s already had plenty of both. According to state statute, a deal must be signed by midnight Thursday, or the governor will be forced to appoint an emergency manager.
It is against this political and economic backdrop that the Detroit-based electronic indie-pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has decided to release its latest video for the song “We Almost Lost Detroit.”
As the band writes on its website:
“We Almost Lost Detroit” began for us as an homage to one of the great artists of our time, Gil Scott Heron. We were so affected by its continued relevance as a piece of work some 30+ years later that just simply attempting to reinterpret it as a creative exercise seemed like a good enough idea on its own. While the song was originally penned as a reaction to a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor halfway between Detroit,MI and Toledo,OH, so much of the imagery contained in Gil’s words seemed to ring true with the news of today.
Gil Scott-Heron was a spoken word artist, musician and one of the pioneers of rap. He’s a major figure in the musical and literary history of the city of Detroit. Sadly, he died last year. To hear his original version of “We Almost Lost Detroit,” click here.
You might notice that Scott-Heron’s version is much slower and more soulful than Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s version. The song is about a partial nuclear meltdown, after all.
But the boys of DEJJ say they hear something else in the song:
… the spirit of the song that always rang out to us was that it didn’t seem to be about simply pointing out what had gone wrong. The message seemingly was one of progress. About setting things right. Coming together as people and moving forward … So we wanted this video to be about people DOING things in and around the city of Detroit. People who are on the job. People who have moved past “what happened?” and are spending more time saying “lets MAKE things happen”. These are the people who we feel represent the city of Detroit.
And so it is. Given the rhetoric surrounding Detroit’s financial situation, you’d think the city is facing a nuclear catastrophe. But regardless of what happens between now and the deadline for the consent agreement – regardless what happens after that – there will still be Detroiters working hard to make the city better.
The city has lost a lot. But it hasn’t lost that.