Prairie Chapel Road: A Song Inspired by Camp Casey and Cindy Sheehan

In August of 2005, I had the great good fortune to be a part of “Camp Casey,” the organic and grassroots peace movement inspired by Cindy Sheehan. During some of my trips there, I was inspired to write a song called “Prairie Chapel Road,” which has now become one of two great songs to come out of that movement. It’s been downloaded thousands of times since then.

I’ve revised this original blog entry several times, and now it’s sort of a “one stop” place to find all the other writing I’ve done about Camp Casey. The entry below tells the story of how “Prairie Chapel Road” first got written, and will give you the links so you can download/stream it yourself.

But I thought you might also be interested in some of the other writing I’ve done about Camp Casey and what’s happened since I wrote the song….

So, you can learn about my second visit to Camp Casey 1 here where I played PCR for family members the very first time, at a Friday prayer vigil.

This third blog entry tells about how BBC Radio used a clip of the song in a that aired on Public Radio in the states.

Fourthly (is this a word?), you can learn about my final visit to Camp Casey last August, on the last incredible Saturday, when 2,000 people were gathered there and I got to play the song on the big main stage at Camp Casey II.

Last but not least, you can read here how my musician friend, Jesse Dyen, has covered “Prairie Chapel Road.”

But, before you read any this, you might want to start with what’s below. It’s the very first “Prairie Chapel Road” blog entry that tells the story of the song, and of how all this got started. Perhaps give it a read, and then explore some of these other links I’ve just mentioned….EF

———————————————
I went down to Camp Casey yesterday. It’s only an hour and a half from home, and I’d been moved by what I’d been reading of the powerful questions she hopes to ask the President. So, me and two others from our church went down for the day.

We got off the shuttle at Camp Casey about 2 minutes before a HUGE gully-washer rainstorm blew through. (Reminded me of Kerrville, actually…) I ran to the nearest shelter which, as it turns out, was the Veterans for Peace shelter where Cindy’s original tent had been. (According to woman named Ann, who was nice enough to let me keep out of the rain with her…)

After the rain, Ron, Kim, and me went down the entire row of 800-plus crosses. The storm had toppled over some of the American flags that were next to them, and some of the names had blown off. So, as we walked down, just soaking in all the crosses in the soaked ground –a little less than half of the actual US casualties– we did our best to put them back in order.

cindy_link

Imagine my shock, then, when I awoke this morning to find that the crosses had been mowed down by some Crawford local the night before. Apparently, he’d tied a metal pole to the back of his truck, and just plowed through them, like he was plowing up corn. Beside the violence of his act, it seems to me that despite his claim to be a “good Christian,” the whole crucifixion thing must be lost on him. How completely metaphorical is it for him to RUN OVER a bunch of CROSSES?!!!*

There are just whole levels of powerful metaphor to this senseless act. Even some of the pro-war (or pro-Bush) folks had been moved by the display of crosses. I heard stories that some of them “crossed the road” to walk up and down the line. Some of them left American flags. Some of them left flowers.

I heard the story that there was a local guy who drove by, who was very much pro-war (or pro-Bush). He had lost his son in the war, and he came up, angry and wanting to talk to someone. After a while, he noticed the crosses, and decided to check and see if his son was among the names. Turns out, he was. And the man melted into tears, in the hands of a peace advocate whose name he barely even knew.

Such were the stories of power that I heard while at Camp Casey. These don’t seem to be making into the mainstream press.

There was so much more that I wanted to blog today about the trip to Crawford. But somehow this thing with the crosses stayed in the front of my brain, and wouldn’t leave me alone.

So, although I had bloggers block, I didn’t seem to have songwriters block. And I’ve got a new song called “Prairie Chapel Road”

On the way home today, these words of hope just came tumbling out.

It’s been said that there’s no good protest songs being written these days. Well, maybe it’s because there are very few good protests. I don’t know if this is a good song, but I DO know this is a powerful protest that deserves good songs.

And so, this song goes out to Cindy Sheehan, and to all the others who camp there in non-violence, and who believe that their witness CAN make a difference in people’s lives. They’ve inspired me, and they’ve inspired countless others.

And, as this witness goes on, and the tensions mount, we all need to believe in the hope that was ignited by their original willingness to speak up and speak out.

Prairie Chapel Road
Download it here

Lyrics

Prairie Chapel Road
The grieving mother pitched her tent,
On Prairie Chapel Road…

With questions for the President
On Prairie Chapel Road…

A host of pilgrims came along
To Prairie Chapel Road…

Raised their voices, sang their songs
On Prairie Chapel Road…

You can mow down the crosses,
but you can’t mow down our hope,
‘Cause the truth will always greet
The light of day.
And we know what the cost is,
In this darkness, where we grope,
But we know that peace
Will be the better way…
On Prairie Chapel Road…

Around the nation, all eyes turned
To Prairie Chapel Road…

To mark the lessons we had learned
On Prairie Chapel Road…

People who had found their voice
On Prairie Chapel Road…

Millions more who joined their choice
On Prairie Chapel Road…
———————
In every city, and small town,
There’s a Prairie Chapel Road

Where two sides of the road are found,
On Prairie Chapel Road…

And we may always disagree
On Prairie Chapel Road…

But the right to do keeps us free
On Prairie Chapel Road…
———-
The grieving mother pitched her tent,
On Prairie Chapel Road…

With questions for the President
On Prairie Chapel Road…

Copyright, Eric Folkerth © 2005
All Rights Reserved.

* I should note that there were also several Stars of David, and at least one Crescent Moon too…

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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