By Victoria Lynn Hall
My favorite era in just about everything is the late sixties and early seventies, especially when it comes to music. This is probably in large part because I grew up with siblings who were six and seven years older than me, so their music was the soundtrack of my childhood.
I think their music may have been just a little before their time as well because by the time I remember them introducing me to the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd, it was after the tragic plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zandt, Guitarist Steve Gaines and Backup singer Cassie Gaines, halting the band’s career. So I was at least eight year’s old when I was subjected to multiple playings of “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” and probably could still live without ever hearing those songs again.
However, I still enjoy other, lesser known songs from that band and “Things Goin’ On” is one of them. It came up on a playlist I was listening to the other day and it struck me how relevant to today’s times the words felt to me.
I decided to come up with my own humble rendition of it to play and sing for my own enjoyment and as I did this I thought more about the lyrics, about what they mean to me now of course, but also trying to remember what I thought of them when I listened to that song as a kid.
At eight years old I didn’t know about segregation or pollution and probably only had a vague idea what poverty was. I imagine my only idea of what a “ghetto” was came from the context of the song, “In The Ghetto” by Elvis Presley (which was also repeatedly played in my household because my Mom and I were fans). And yet, in that time and since I don’t think I ever felt the song refers to me when it says, “There’s Things Goin’ On You don’t know.” But it most certainly does.
There were a lot of “Things Goin’ On” in 1973 when this song was recorded and yet even the people who knew “about” them, didn’t Know them if they weren’t experiencing them for themselves or affected by them in some visceral way. The same is true now. Those of us not at the effect of racial, economic or environmental injustice – don’t Know injustice. And unless we are an innocent civilian in a war torn country, or a veteran or have a loved one serving overseas – we don’t truly Know the cost of war. So while I can share facts and statistics and tell you how I feel about these things, it is my goal and hope that this blog and all the platforms for Amplifire Project will be a place where the voices of those who do Know, and have been directly affected by our harmful governmental policies, will also be heard and amplified.
Because I don’t see my role here as just a contributor but also an active listener and a learner of truths other than just my own.
Things Goin’ On was written in 1973 by Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was recorded for the band’s first album (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd).
Here’s my humble rendition (lyrics below):
Have you ever lived down in the ghetto?
Have you ever felt the cold wind blow?
If you don’t know what I mean,
Won’t you stand up and scream?
‘Cause there’s things goin’ on that you don’t know.
Too many lives they’ve spent across the ocean.
Too much money been spent upon the moon.
Well, until they make it right
I hope they never sleep at night
They better make some changes
And do it soon.
They’re goin ruin the air we breathe
Lord have mercy.
They’re gonna ruin us all, by and by.
I’m telling you all beware
I don’t think they really care
I think they just sit up there
And just get high.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.