Scott very rarely plays songs more than once in a sitting, so the fact that we’ve now listened to Loma‘s Black Willow six times in a row is no small endorsement. I agree: it’s infectiously beautiful, darkly haunting, the lyrics are provocative… definitely worth playing over and over, and there’s something about the album cover art, too.
And the plot thickens! The video’s first comment on YouTube is from (actor, producer, and writer) Daniel Martine, who points out that the song sounds eerily similar to a song called “Mississippi Mud,” a Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles song with a grim history:
In his comment to the Black Willow video, Daniel continues:
The story is about the death of black students who protesting [sic] at Jackson State in Mississippi in ’70. Not long after Kent State shootings happened. But it didn’t get the press of Kent State, because they were black students.
I can google up no evidence that Loma may have meant Black Willow to be a straight up homage to the song and/or a rememberance of the events that took place at Jackson State, not to mention the inequality of the response thereafter compared to shootings of white students. But I could understand that the band could have gone there given the public’s attention on police shootings of black men and what happens — or doesn’t, as the case may be — afterward. #blacklivesmatter
This is certainly the most generous interpretation I can fathom given the obvious resemblance between the two songs. Am re-reading the lyrics to Black Willow with this connection in mind. It totally could be…???
Nor can I find any evidence to support Daniel’s claim about the origins of Mississippi Mud. In the comments to that video on YouTube he says:
The writer who wrote this track formed this band at Jackson State right after the riots there in 1970. Black students were killed. But this riot never got the coverage the Kent State riots did around the same time. The writer was a dental student at Jackson State at the time. It’s a one off…the song was en [sic] homage to the students killed during the riots.
Based on other YouTube comments, Mississippi Mud was used during the credits of a documentary covering another dark period of United States history, namely 2015: (T)ERROR (also serialized for BBC and featured on This American Life) apparently covers the story of FBI informants, Muslim targets, and counter-terrorism cases…
As I’ve been processing all of this information, Scott uncovered this compilation, which includes four total songs from Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles (including Mississippi Mud, its B side, and one other song that doesn’t come close).
Phew, time for bed; I’m worn out after falling down this multi-warrened rabbit hole!