Work of the Sisters During the Influenza Epidemic, October, 1918
I have never even been a believer much less a devout Catholic and yet nuns are the longest streak of inspiration for lyrics I've ever known. It's weird because if you know me, I'm about as atheist as they come.
I was reading this article about nuns in Philadelphia during the influenza pandemic. Life sucked a lot worse back then especially if you were poor, which seemed to be almost everyone.
Here's the editorial that brought it to my attention - https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-nuns.html(link is external)
See the document mentioned in it here - https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/44208518.pdf
This is what I was scanning for scenes and imagery. They’re described as having little experience in the outside world and little or no medical training and yet they went out and did everything they could.
If you want to know just how poor and miserable these people were, follow the second link. The sickness, poverty, death, and suffering was immense and surging like a storm that October.
It details a wealthy widow who called for the sisters and begged them not to leave her alone after her husband had passed. Another article describes a mining town that was so infected that state cops surrounded it to enforce a quarantine (16 sisters went in to administer medical care, domestic care, and spiritual comfort). There were also many stories of dead parents left in bed and sick kids laying around hungry and dirty. At times they were met with resistance, rejection, or denial, only to be summoned by the very same people when death could no longer be hidden. I admire the work of these sisters.
I read enough of these to get the sense that everyone had gone mad from fear and grief. The sisters suffered with them, quietly and unafraid. Well, sure they were afraid, but they went in anyways, knowing they would likely be infected (they were), beating back filth and begging people to care for the children despite their poverty. So hopeless and dark and yet there they were, being heroes.
I want to come back to the vocals and try a few other ideas and also track some live drums because I think the story deserves a hook or something more approachable. This apartment cut with shy vocals and repetitive midi vibes will have to hold it’s place for now because everything I record is pretty much a live performance for an unwilling audience of my roommate and neighbors.
Edit: I'm pretty sure the organ/synth arpeggios here are lifted from something I used to listen to a lot but I don't what it is. Please let me know in the comments or email or whatever if you recognize it.
clean cook and feed
for those in need
but we don't need to be seen
or known in time for these deeds
beds are filling up with parade goers
we've only ever walked this city
now in streetcars and the stillness
we're never lost, we bear the cross
poor little girl trying to keep house
care for sick mother and six smaller children
father went out, drunk or crazed
he thought she was the undertaker
we made him promise, we made him promise
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