VIAL: The Coming Week

A video for Arrested Development’s Tennessee. Note the themes of escape and redemption. As is so often the case in American Culture, geographical movement is connected to a yearning for spiritual and political freedom– as this passage from Robin D.G. Kelley’s Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination illustrates. 

Lord I’ve really been real stressed
Down and out, losin ground
Although I am black and proud
Problems got me pessimistic
Brothers and sisters keep messin up
Why does it have to be so damn tuff?
I don’t know where I can go
To let these ghosts out of my skull
My grandmas past, my brothers gone
I never at once felt so alone
I know you’re supposed to be my steering wheel
Not just my spare tire (home)
But lord I ask you (home)
To be my guiding force and truth (home)
For some strange reason it had to be (home)
He guided me to Tennessee (home)

(Chorus) Take me to another place
Take me to another land
Make me forget all that hurts me
Let me understand your plan

Lord it’s obvious we got a relationship
Talkin to each other every night and day
Although you’re superior over me
We talk to each other in a friendship way
Then outta nowhere you tell me to break
Outta the country and into more country
Past Dyesburg into Ripley
Where the ghost of childhood haunts me
Walk the roads my forefathers walked
Climbed the trees my forefathers hung from
Ask those trees for all their wisdom
They tell me my ears are so young (home)
Go back to from whence you came (home)
My family tree my family name (home)
For some strange reason it had to be (home)
He guided me to Tennessee (home)


Now I see the importance of history
Why people be in the mess that they be
Many journeys to freedom made in vain
By brothers on the corner playin ghetto games
I ask you lord why you enlightened me
Without the enlightment of all my folks
He said cuz I set myself on a quest for truth
And he was there to quench my thirst
But I am still thirsty…
The lord allowed me to drink some more
He said what I am searchin for are
The answers to all which are in front of me
The ultimate truth started to get blurry
For some strange reason it had to be
It was all a dream about Tennessee


For this week:

Monday we’ll discuss Ch. 5 of Angela Davis’s book.

For Wednesday  well discuss Ch. 7

Friday: Ch. 11

2 thoughts on “VIAL: The Coming Week

  1. Robert L Frost

    It seems to me that this song and video is more about understanding of why as opposed to escaping the now. He talks about the frustrations of people in his situation messing up over and over again, making a hard situation harder. A sort of quick sand. It’s this desperation that leads him to seeking truth through history of why this is happening. He is sent on somewhat of a soljourn. When he starts learning so much he wonders why he was destined to know all of this, then he discovers that he is destined to use this truth to enlighten others. Hence why he made it a song to present to the public. Again a sense of understanding verses escape. But that is just what I think. It is all up to interpretation.

  2. apciv Post author

    I agree, though maybe the two things are linked along the lines of the statement that “knowledge is power.” Understanding is a means of escape? On the other hand knowing the truth might not just set you free but weigh upon you– it deepens our experience of the world but can also make that experience more painful. At any rate, the lyrics seem to speak to a fundamental restlessness, a desire to push ahead and KNOW: “I am still thirsty.”


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