Song Analysis

Scarlet’s Walk

Thursday 22 September 2011, by Cécile Desbrun

(Coming soon! In the meantime, read Tori’s quotes about the song)

"I think she’s ready, now. I think that she’s been preparing for this, and breaking herself down, letting herself sore, and shedding ideas and ways of being, to be able to take this in. You know, this is a climax for her. Well she’s been through St. Augustine, which was one of the early settlements from the Spanish, and she’s walked those streets. And um, she’s been to the early settlements in Massachusetts and she’s been on the cape and she knows the influences and their trials.

And so now that she is working her way up, you know, through Savannah, and there’s a balmy sweetness she has with Savannah. She moves into Charleston and she’s picking up the threads of the early settlers that came and... what their needs were. And she’s trying to find compassion for all that as she then goes to walk the walk, which is, yes, a breeze through Jonesboro.

And she then moves up through the Cherokee sacred land, what was their capital, and she moves through where the Trail of Tears began for the Cherokee people. And this is explored in Scarlet’s Web. And I think that as she walks this walk and is able to feel it with every step and in her cells, there is a humbling of soul and there is a commitment that she makes to a voice, whether you call it the ancestors, to a belief, to a spiritual path, just something that is ringing true for her.

She couldn’t follow Sweet Sangria, she couldn’t follow his path, but this is something that is true to her... this walk in ’Scarlet’s Walk’. This is her map. He found his and was living it, and she is finding hers and is ready to live it. In a way, there is an honoring of my ancestors in this, that escaped the Trail of Tears - well I should say survived it, nobody escaped it, but survived it - and put their roots down around the Smoky Mountains and from Chattanooga to the Carolinas.

And I think that the stories that got passed down through the generations, they have taken root inside of my self. And there is a coming home with this song, there is a deep coming home. And there is also a commitment to being a night watchman for the sacred land and this place that we call America. Being a caretaker along with many many many other people that are being called this time to light the torch within themselves, to know that what we do now in these... very troubled times, what we do in them will affect the next generation in such a complete way.

It doesn’t mean there’s not time for giggles or anything else, you can do that. But it is something that takes her... right through her skin, through her organs, through her bones, and it grabs her and shakes her and holds her and says, ’Do you know where you stand as you walk?’" (Scarlet Stories CD)

On "Scarlet’s Walk" she traces the footsteps of the early European settlers along the east coast and passes through the capital of the Cherokee nation. "In the song, America is a young girl looking over the water at another young girl, who may be called France or Spain or England. She’s curious so she invites them over. Pretty soon, they’ve moved in and taken everything - the husband, the house and the job - and the new sheriff is in charge." The walk also picks up the story of the grandfather of Amos’s grandmother, a full-blooded Cherokee. (Scarlet’s Walk bio)

"What I found offensive was when some of our leaders were saying, ’If you start asking questions about why this happened, then you don’t love America.’ And that’s emotional blackmail. We can’t be shamed by that. There are questions that have to be asked if we’re going to grow. And another question that people have to ask sometimes is who benefits from some of these decisions when we’re being shamed? Usually shamers have so much to gain, or they’re covering something up. Always. Just from being part of R.A.I.N.N. [Rape Abuse & Incest National Network], I’ve been taught that over the years. So many people that have been abused in some way have been shamed. That’s because people don’t want to be uncovered.

So, we’re being intimidated into not asking questions and there’s a reason why. It’s because once we turn over these stones, we’re finding something that they don’t want us to find. And if that doesn’t make the torches light up in the mind of those university students, then you know what? In 20 years time, they’ll look back and say, ’We were at a crossroads and we turned the light out - we turned our own light out. We can’t blame anyone else.’ So, it’s a time when the fires need to be lit in the hearts of those who are our future Martin Luther Kings, our future Sylvia Plaths, the poets and the writers and the future statesmen and stateswomen who realize that we are in a fragile place.

But as history has taught us, those people who light the flames, turn over the stones and dare to ask questions also run the risk of being crucified. Bring it on! My answer to that is: Get off the cross - we need the wood. Bring your matches; I’m ready for you." (Pulse November 2002)

"The song ’Scarlet’s Walk’ goes through South Carolina, Georgia, and into North Carolina, and it’s really the Trail of Tears story mixed with Scarlett O’Hara," she explains. The album was inspired by the oral tradition of passing down the Native American story, she says, and "integrating that with the story of the Europeans, because she (Scarlet) is made of both and so is the land." (Charlotte Observer February 21, 2003)

"Scarlet eventually finds her way to North Georgia. Here the capital of the great Cherokee Nation had been racially cleansed and become a beacon for the desperate new arrivals for Gold. At this place in the story Scarlet finally comprehends the horrific magnitude of the Indian Removal Act policy advocated by President Andrew Jackson. The subsequent genocide and terror that rained down on the collective southern nations, which included the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee, finds its voice in the song ’Scarlet’s Walk.’ As our character Scarlet is trying to process the modern terror that has just occurred in the early 21st century, she is faced with the painful truth that some of her European/American ancestors were instrumental in this heinous crime against some of her Eastern Cherokee ancestors, some of who survived the monstruous atrocity known as the Trail of Tears and lived to tell her tale." (A Piano booklet, p. 39.)