this song gives voice to the various borders we cannot cross---social, economic, political, romantic, national. it is about a woman who is wandering the streets, not able to reach another, the frustration of feeling hemmed in by lines that have been drawn to keep us separated. a few months after i wrote it i met an amazing african-american woman in the hospital. she was dying of crack-induced lung illness. she was difficult with most of the staff at the hospital, acting out her existential angst with the doctors and nurses. the first day i met her, i sat down and listened to her for about an hour, recounting the story of her life, how she got to where she was. it was powerful to hear how she framed her life, how she was coming to understand her death. the depth of connection we felt after this first meeting ended up shaping her stay, and allowed for some profound interactions between us prior to her death. until then, i had never considered a woman who was called "a crack whore" by others as a friend but through knowing her and allowing myself to cross my own lines, i believe she died with a greater sense of peace. and i live with a greater sense of attention to people's struggles no matter what walk of life they come from. i remember her beauty and courage every time i sing this song.


from este mundo, released October 27, 2009


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