I could have picked any track from Oakland based artist Jesse Olsen Bay’s album ‘Makings’ as our Song of the Day. Insomnia Flower jumped out at me but I really want to draw attention to this album and the story behind it.
The album is a song cycle and body of work based around unpublished writings of Jesse’s grandmother, acclaimed author/activist Tillie Olsen (1912-2007).
In San Francisco, Tillie became a familiar and passionate presence in community meetings, on picket lines and at demonstrations throughout the Bay Area – for labor, against apartheid and racism, as part of anti-war movements, on behalf of women’s rights, to create a strong public education and public library system, and for the protection of the earth. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Tillie was a familiar figure in the Western Addition and Tenderloin, handing out leaflets or posters, taking brisk walks, and stopping to talk with homeless people. When she would offer a few carefully folded dollar bills to “help out”, her response to “Thank you and bless you” was inevitably, “Don’t bless me – curse the system!” — always punctuated with a kiss.
“The songs in Makings were composed using what Tillie called her “Blueys” — blue and white sheets of typewriter paper on which she wrote notes, ideas, bits of prose and poetry. They were her journals, but also more than that: a writer practicing her craft, putting words and ideas into form.”
Ten years in creation you can read more about it here: http://www.jesseolsenbay.com/makings
Order the album via Bandcamp here: https://jesseolsenbay.bandcamp.com/album/makings
Tillie was a beautiful, powerfully charismatic and compassionate woman, who saw and sought the humanity in everyone.