Caroline Rose was my favorite discovery at last week's Americana Music Festival in Nashville. She's punky and witty, with a style teetering on rockabilly in its stripped-down, bluesy way. Caroline Rose's saddle shoes scream fun, but her lyrics tell some serious stories.
"Blood On Your Bootheels" is a perfect introduction to this northeastern troubadour. The melody and footwear reference harkens to Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra's 1966 hit, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" but the inspiration comes from the tragedies of Trayvon Martin and Ferguson. And for this video she depicts her frustration with cultural violence using Skittles and stop-motion animation. Caroline told us via email how this all came to be:
"I wrote the song when I was working at a cider distillery –– no joke, I was living in the upstairs of a barn. Something was channeling through me, because it's written from perspectives that aren't mine, inspired by the Trayvon Martin case. His story was so similar to Emmett Till's, the 14-year-old boy who was killed by two white men in Mississippi, who got off completely scot-free. It triggered all these thoughts about peoples' obsession with guns, how there's very little escape from violence for young black guys in the U.S. Then the whole thing in Ferguson happened right before we were supposed to start shooting a video for "Blood On Your Bootheels." It's powerful stuff.
I knew I had to keep it simple, so I thought about how this boy was holding a package of Skittles in his hand when he died, and how something as innocent as a pack of candy could be powerful and symbolic to pretty much any type of person. I worked on the video alone, in a friend's basement, in my free time over the course of 2-3 weeks. It took about a dozen family size bags of Skittles, most of which I keep finding in the pockets of my clothes. I got a cavity in my bottom right molar because of it. I highly discourage working in this format, it's an incredibly time-consuming, painstaking, agonizing process that only brings one sleep loss and both physical and mental suffering. It also attracts ants. In other words, I enjoyed the process but I don't think I'll be doing another stop motion video for a while, if ever again."
This song from Caroline Rose comes from her album I Will Not Be Afraid. You can hear NPR's Scott Simon interview Caroline Rose and find her on tour, a show definitely worth seeing perhaps in a town near you.