Roger Harvey | courtesy of the artist
Roger Harvey reminds us change doesn’t happen overnight on “What A Weird Hill To Die On”
When Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States last Wednesday, there was a common refrain among his supporters, voiced in celebratory tones and talking about “a new day.” But a change in the administration doesn’t mean a change in the country’s divisions that accelerated during the Trump years, and while Biden voters were gleefully sharing Bernie memes and alluding to things “getting back to normal,” Philly singer-songwriter Roger Harvey reflected on the more complex reality by releasing a song told from the perspective of one of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
“What A Weird Hill To Die On” is a sardonic character sketch set to acoustic country-folk arrangements, depicting an angry white person driving a sticker-laden truck around town, and sitting at home commiserating with like-minded folks online — people who range from explicitly intolerant to simply uninterested in the struggles of others: “I like my music without the politics / Can’t do nothing these days without being reminded / That there is a world that we all have to live in / and it doesn’t just revolve around me and my friends.”
As the song progresses, this person finds themself at the “chaotic scene” of the Captiol riot, rushing to a blurry aftermath in a prison cell, and still not entirely willing to concede their position. Which makes the chorus lyric a curious one: “Have you considered maybe you’ve been fooled / By the people you swore were telling the truth? / Even though they’ve never done nothing for you / What a weird hill to die on.”
Does the refrain shift from the point of view of Roger Harvey, the omniscient narrator, who uses those lines to address the imprisoned Capitol rioter about how they were led astray? Or is the chorus, like the rest of the song, still told from the perspective of this central character, asking listeners who don’t agree with them about how certain they are of their own truths? It’s a puzzler, and a reminder in either case that those who wish to see the U.S. progress to a more compassionate society need to remain vigilant, even after the changing of the guard.
“What A Weird Hill To Die On” is streaming on Bandcamp, available for download on Harvey’s Patreon, and features Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner on pedal steel, Kayleigh Goldsworthy on violin and vocals, and Gregory Karlowitsch on bass. Listen below.