Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Each Year, from Ra Ra Riot's 2007 EP Ra Ra Riot, is drawn from Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. "I had recently read To Kill a Mockingbird, which had a huge impact on me," says band member Wesley Miles," and John [Ryan Pike] and I talked a lot about it on our way down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Those experiences served as the lyrical inspiration." Set in a small Alabama town during the Depression, the story concerns two children, Scout and Jem, and their widowed father, attorney Atticus Finch. In the course of the novel, Atticus tries to defend a black man unjustly accused of rape, in a trial tinged with racism. This is alluded to in the line Coverin' a fault with trials and show displays. The song also addresses another focus of the book, the children's relationship with their mysterious and reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, a figure only glimpsed through a window because his abusive father keeps him locked up in the house: Silhouettes in a window frame/Better run if it's Boo's old man/He won't know if you're white/Oh, in the night. Other lines seem to allude to young Scout and her role model, the admirable Atticus: Never mind what your/Daughter is taught in school/What she remembers is/What she has learned from you. There are other allusions to To Kill a Mockingbird in popular music (including the names chosen by the bands The Boo Radleys and Atticus) which will feature in future posts.