Willie Dunn: I Pity the Country

Light in the Attic (LITA) is a record label out of Seattle, which specializes in small batch re-releases of rare records. With an intentionally curated catalog and beautiful accompanying artwork, Light in the Attic’s taste level sets itself on another echelon.

It was through LITA that I was introduced to Willie Dunn. This fall they released Native North America Vol 1, a compilation of lost folk, rock and country songs from the aboriginal community of North America (1961-1985). And, like all of their releases, it is an absolute gift.

Beautifully written and performed with heart, these songs reflect the sounds of the times. In true folk fashion, they are sung with poignant lyrics, unique to their storytellers, performed to solidify the identity of their native culture. But, what was scarcely on the radar of popular music in its time has, decades later, become virtually invisible. Thanks to LITA’s magnificent unearthing of these rare tunes, we have access to this piece of North American history.

The 34 tracks found here span a range of styles and voices, with some beautiful moments sprinkled throughout. But it’s the opening track, Willie Dunn’s “I Pity the Country” which stands out above the rest. In his voice is the pain of oppression, as his lyrics resonate with disheartened frustration:
I pity the country
I pity the state
And the mind of the man
That thrives on hate

It’s a timeless (and timely) message for those who would reflect on it.

For a preview of Light in the Attic’s release, see the video below.

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