Log in

No account? Create an account
10 January 2007 @ 12:56 pm
A Helen Hill Song  
Like many people I know, I'm spending a lot of my time lately thinking about Helen Hill and her senseless death. There are so many aspects. First, there is Helen herself and the waves of loss that hit her husband and son the hardest, then her family and close friends, then her acquaintances, then those who only met her or whose children played with her son. The ripples go out farther and farther, their impact diminishing as they go, but being felt nevertheless. There will always be a painful emptiness where Helen once was.

Beyond Helen herself, there was the incredible impact she'd had and was continuing to have. Her good work for needy people was something many of us wish we would do, but don't. And her art, her films, her whimsical (and sometimes gently tricky) expressions were also worthy of aspiration. Luckily, we still have all this, her legacy and our memories; it's the part of her that didn't and won't ever die.

And then there's the crime. My mother is terribly worried for my safety. She wonders why Ana and I can't live somewhere safer. If I really didn't care about my beloved New Orleans, I would probably pack up and go. But some things are worth fighting for. When I moved to this city in the early nineties, crime was brutally high then too. But things changed and the crime rate came down. I know it can happen again. I refuse to live in fear, but it still tugs at all of us who live here now.

Behind the crime, there's the sad fact that while many of us in society can and do weave a beautiful, if imperfect, fabric of trust and interdependence, there are some--a growing number, I fear--who are not a part of this. There are far too many reasons for this. In every neighborhood, children are disenfranchised every day, in many ways. Their hearts harden at a young age and before long they are isolated--not in our arms, as they each should be. I don't know how, but if we don't find a way to reach these children, it will be at both their peril and ours.

Today is Helen's memorial service in South Carolina. For the last few days, I have been working on a song about her. Here's a quick recording I made of it:

The words and chords are as follows:

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
In her [Am]own home last [F]night
On the [C]fourth day of a [G]new year
That [E7]still seemed so [Am]bright
Her [F]dreams were cut [C]short
When that [E7]nightmare creeped [Am]in
And [F]took sweet [C]Helen
From her [G]family and [C]friends

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
For no [Am]reason we [F]know
She [C]fought and she [G]pleaded
But he [E7]still laid her [Am]low
[F]Down went the [C]kindness
[E7]Down went the [Am]care
[C]Out went the [G]love
With her [F]last breath of [Am]air

I [Am]dreamed I [C]saw
[Am]Helen Hill last [F]night
She was [C]smiling and [G]shining
Like a [E7]heavenly [Am]light
Bright [F]words she was [C]sewing
Right [E7]into the [Am]sky
[F]Flickering in [C]starlight,
"[G]I didn't [C]die."

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
A dear [Am]mother and [F]wife
The [C]last thing she [G]ever did
Was to [E7]save her boy's [Am]life
So [F]what are we [C]made of
If we [E7]don't do our [Am]best
To [C]reach into the [G]darkness
And [F]save all the [Am]rest?

If you like it, please feel free to play it and share it.
The Infinite Goof: raggedytoastkittymonkey on January 10th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oh Dave, it's beautiful.
She will be remembered.
Who bootless makes the breathless housewife churn: Zekejerrygarciuh on January 10th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing that!
retcretc on January 10th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
That was truly beautiful.
I have no idea what to say.
I was composing an LJ entry in my head this morning re the murders in New Orleans.
I'll work on it tomorrow.
And I certainly hope you don't go anywhere but understand if you do.
I have said since Katrina that I certainly understand anyone who just can't handle this.
I am often not so sure that I can.
Love you, honey.
zeldakitty: mini-mezeldakitty on January 11th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC)
Oh Dave, I love you so much. This is really fine work. I am proud of you.
franandzoe on January 11th, 2007 06:22 am (UTC)
that was great, dave
(Anonymous) on January 11th, 2007 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks Dave
Its great and an amazing use of an important song. Speaking of songs, this last Saturday at dba, John Boutte walked in and started his set with 2 amazing songs; the second being "Love's In Need of Love Today" by Stevie Wonder and he sang for all of us as he implored us to not to let hate take over. Tears rolled down my cheeks as he sang, and for a moment, we all were thinking of Helen and many, many others that have been lost to hate.
My community (stuffed with fabulous humans you and Ana) are what keeps me here, focused and sure we will create light in a dark time.
pee-pee-poo-poo-headkittee on January 11th, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
bravo dave. we loved it and hated it all at the same time.

(Anonymous) on December 15th, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC)
very interesting, but I don't agree with you
(Anonymous) on January 13th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC)
am touched
saw the story on TV, love the song, a true folk song, reminds me of Bob Dylan, following America's tragic historical history...
(Anonymous) on January 13th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
i really really like this.
i saw the video to it
on t.v. and ive been trying to find it for hours.
but i havnt gotten very far. i love it so much.
i will never forget about her.
(Anonymous) on May 1st, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
such a meaningful song
im frm new zealand,and was just watching americas most wanted,and saw what happened to Helen,it was such a sad story i felt so sad for her husband her her boy what they saw and went through aswell.i thought the song u wrote about her was so beautiful,i had to hear it again so i searched it and came here,i hope this creep who did this to Helen gets caught soon..