Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Take the Climb by Otter Creek - Dedicated to Tyler Clementi and all others who have or are struggling

I first fell in love with Otter Creek when I heard a four-part interview with Peter and Mary Danzig on Mormon Stories, a podcast of various interests having to do with Mormonism.

My sister had sent me a link to their story, saying I might find it interesting. It was basically the story of their lives together and their journey from devout Mormons living in a small town near the small town I grew up in to their eventual (and very painful) leaving of the Mormon Church - in part due to the Church's stance on homosexuality (which is interesting seeing as how they are a straight couple :)).

I found it interesting that Peter was going to school majoring in social work when he started to seriously question the Church and its standing on social issues. I completely understand this - perhaps because social work classes focus on not only forming your own opinion about things - questioning things and seeking answers (things which are all shied away from in the Mormon Church) - but also looking at social justice issues impacting all people and teaching students to fight for and with those who are marginalized.

So, as a gay, formerly Mormon social worker I obviously found a lot that I could relate to with this couple.

Anyway, I have been following them a bit via Facebook and their webpage and saw that they had written a song dedicated to Tyler Clementi, the Rutger's teen who took his life after a video of him with another man was posted online by a fellow student.

I emailed Otter Creek requesting a copy of the song and got the following email along with the song:

In September I had just started to teach a violin lesson when my student's mother picked up her New York Times and gasped. She told me she had to show me something after the lesson. After I finished teaching, she showed me an article about a young violinist, Tyler Clementi who committed suicide after his roommate live streamed Tyler's relationship with another guy over the internet. As I read the article and looked at the picture of a young man holding his violin with such beautiful technique, I was filled with sadness.

The week before I had heard Hilary Hahn perform the Tchaikowsky violin concerto. During her incredible performance I had thought about the speculation that Tchaikowsky commited suicide because his "friends" told him that it would be better for him to kill himself than to be gay. I had thought about the magnificent gift that Tchaikowsky's gift has been to the world and what a loss his untimely death was for all of us. As I gazed at the picture of Tyler, I grieved the loss of a young man who had already brought so much joy and would have given a lifetime of beauty to so many. As Peter and I talked later that evening we wished there was something we could do. We decided to write a song and hope that maybe it does some good for someone. Some talented musician friends helped us make a live recording at Holladay United Church of Christ. Attached is the song. They lyrics are below. We hope you enjoy the song. If you do, please feel free to send it on with our hope that one day we will learn to treat all people with love and respect.

Take the Climb by Peter and Mary Danzig Recorded live at Holladay United Church of Christ vocal and acoustic guitar - Peter Danzig violin - Mary Danzig electric guitar - Bill Green bass- Jani Gamble drums - Amy Boettger recorded by Winston Gamble

Take the Climb
In memory of Tyler Clementi

It was late in the evening one September night
When Tyler found out what they'd done.
They'd taken a scene from his private life
And shown it online just for fun.
Now he didn't do anything wrong
He'd just fallen in love
Instead of drowning in the Hudson
He should have been high
Should have been left to climb high on the mountain of love.

There stand many others alongside of Tyler
Who have been thoughtlessly shamed
By those who profess that the core of their nature
Is unnatural sick and profane.
now it's not really that hard
To grab hold of their hands
Walk with them in the valley below
And take the climb high
Take the climb high on the mountain of love.

Now I have a message for preachers of hate
I think you may be confused
The road to salvation's not paved with rejection
Intolerance or abuse.
So stand down your guard
And I'll do the same
Let's meet each other in the valley below
And take the climb high
Take the climb high on the mountain of love.


If you would like an mp3 of the song let me know.