Little Scream’s newest single “People” is a battle cry. It began three years ago as Laurel Sprengelmeyer’s outcry amidst what felt like an infuriating mass silence about the pain, hatred, and corruption dominating the news. The single was recorded for Little Scream’s recent album Cult Following but didn’t ultimately make the tracklist. She couldn’t bear to kick it to the curb, though, and given the outcome of this past election, “People” seemed more relevant than ever.
So “People” is seeing release today, with all proceeds going to the ACLU. Via email, Sprengelmeyer explained her inspirations for the track — specifically the ’70s output of Gil Scott-Heron, Marvin Gaye, and John Lennon — and why Donald Drumpf’s mastery of propaganda is the final wake-up call:
See the deer by the side of the road?
Its broken spindly legs…
Someone else was driving.
This is the burden of our age.
I wrote the song “People” in haste after reading the morning news in early 2013. When I sang the simple, earnest chorus “Come on, people! What’s wrong with us, people?!” I wasn’t self-editing—just letting myself have a moment of pure unguarded frustration with the apathy, privilege, and cynicism of my generation. Like many of us, I was wondering where the protest movement was in the face of the longest war in US history. Black Lives Matter hadn’t yet come to the fore, and Occupy Wall Street hadn’t yet found a voice that could reach into mainstream media. At that time I was listening to a lot of ‘70s-era Gil Scott Heron, Marvin Gaye, and John Lennon, and I was wondering what was so different about their time and ours, why lyrics like “give peace a chance” found an audience then, but seemingly couldn’t now.
When it came time to put together Cult Following, “People” didn’t fit anywhere. I felt embarrassed by its lack of nuance, and it was left by the wayside. That all changed for me last week. When simplistic rhetoric and misleading sloganeering helped award a sociopathic demagogue the highest office in my home country, I heard a collective sigh of exasperation, and it resembled something like, “Come on, people!!!” What more could we say?
There is nothing like identifying a common enemy to help bring about clarity and awareness. In this case, the enemy is not a single person, but our own ongoing apathy and collective lack of action. Donald Drumpf has reminded us that despite unprecedented access to information, we still can’t seem to outsmart propaganda. He feeds us whims and intentionally inflammatory statements, and whether we like them or not, we end up reflecting and proliferating them. He has reminded us that we must be proactive in our consumption of news, in identifying truth amidst entertaining falsehoods; that we are closer to the blunt polemics of bigotry vs. acceptance, love vs. hate than we may have previously thought. When I sing, “Come on, people!” I say it now with renewed shock, disbelief, and conviction. If by some miracle we can escape the patterns of history, we may be able to pull out of this thing with our democracy intact. And in any case, it is a moment to recalibrate our sense of purpose, and an opportunity to become more skillful at taking action to protect our rights, and each other.
Purchase “People” here. All proceeds will go towards Planned Parenthood and ACLU. Listen below.