Listen to the samples of "The American Way," "Progress" and "Missile Envy" and you'll buy the CD. If somehow the music doesn't grab you instantly, read the amazing story of how this recording came to be...........
The performances captured on this recording were written and performed by activists marching the 3,700 mile, 225 day Great Peace March of 1986. This CD was recorded live to 2-track at the GPM campsite on October 2, 1986 in Bedford, PA by Don Bell.
The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament evolved from another peace effort, PRO-Peace. Formally organized on April 2, 1985, by David Mixner of Los Angeles, California, PRO-Peace envisioned raising $20,000,000 to send 5000 marchers 3000 miles eastward to Washington D.C. The march departed from Los Angeles on March 1, 1986, with only 1200 participants and a fraction of the needed monies in hand. The marchers soon began to realize that the collapse of PRO-Peace was imminent and some began to organize a new structure to take its place. On March 14, while camped near Barstow, California, they received word from David Mixner that PRO-Peace no longer existed. Many marchers departed but those who remained incorporated on March 19 into the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.
A Statement of Purpose was approved with the following preamble "The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament is an abolitionist movement. We believe that great social change comes about when the will of the people becomes focused on a moral imperative. By marching for nine months across the United States, we will create a non-violent focus for positive change; the imperative being that nuclear weapons ar politically, socially, economically and morally unjustifiable, and that, in any number, they are unacceptable. It is the responsibility of a democratic government to implement the will of its people, and it is the will of the people of the United States and many other nations to end the nuclear arms race."
The GPM, also known as Peace City and now numbering approximately 600, resumed its eastward walk on March 28.
The marchers crossed the United States through California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. On November 15, 1986, they marched into DC, despite the predictions of failure, almost 1200 strong again. About 15,000 people were there to greet them--many of those had helped the march or were inspired by it. Concluding ceremonies were held the following day in Meridian Park, followed by speeches in front of the White House, and closing ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial. Rev. Jesse Jackson was among the speakers at the Lincoln Memorial.
The March itself was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. What happened between leaving LA and arriving in DC is the real story, and it is different for each of the marchers who made that journey. Some of the transformation is palpable in this exciting recording.
Producer Anne Feeney remembers:
"Getting involved in the March was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I had two young children, and I was very concerned about the arms race. During the Reagan years it was pretty easy to drift into cynicism and helplessness. Enter Wild Wimmin for Peace. It was late September of 1986, and they were nearing the end of a journey that had begun almost six months before. I didn't have much in the way of expectations when I was asked to present this 20 womon ensemble of peace marchers. I figured they were activists, not artists, and that the show would be boring and preachy. NOT! I was so wrong! Their energy and optimism and tribalism and spiritualism and humor and talent just blew me away. I couldn't get their music out of my head.
By October 2, I had gotten our local peace and justice center, the Thomas Merton Center, and East Hills NOW to co-sponsor the project. I raised enough money from individual donors to the Merton Center and NOW to finance the project. I convinced Don Bell, one of the very few professional sound engineers in Pittsburgh, to dismantle his studio and take it to the Great Peace March campsite, which by then was 80 miles out of town in Bedford, PA. The marchers, facilitated by Liz Marek and others, consensed and consensed about the details of how this recording would be used. In the end, everyone waived all rights to any of the proceeds from the sale of the recording as long as no one was going to benefit except for peace and feminist groups worldwide. The Merton Center and NOW were to make copies available at cost to any non-profit peace or feminist organization. Wild Wimmin for Peace wanted any marcher who agreed to the concept to be able to participate, so there are several additional songs on the recording.
I knew nothing about licensing the work of other artists, so everyone agreed not to do any 'cover' tunes unless they were traditional songs. We had a fabulous recording session and I went home with the Beta 2 track master to figure out which takes would be used on the recording. I had it mastered and the liner notes nearly finished when I got a call from Liz. On the way into Harrisburg, PA, one of the marchers had told Liz that she was pretty sure that the song "Bridget Evans" was written by someone named Jill or Judy Small from England or New Zealand or Australia. Their performance of "Bridget Evans" was fantastic and I really wanted it on the recording. Ack! I was crazy. How would I ever find this composer? How would I convince her to waive her royalties? I opened my most recent copy of SingOut! magazine -- I thought perhaps someone at the magazine might recognize the song. To my amazement, the issue I had randomly pulled from the shelf contained a feature on Australian songwriter Judy Small.
SingOut! gave me the phone number of Redwood Records, Judy's US label. Someone at Redwood told me Judy was touring in the US and gave me a phone number where I could reach her. I dialed the number and found myself talking to Ronnie Gilbert (of the Weavers)!!! Ronnie put Judy on the phone. I told her about our project. She was so enthusiastic that I played the tape to her over the phone. She arranged to have Wild Wimmin open for her in Philadelphia. (She also waived all royalties from the recording -- thanks, Judy!)
I had 500 copies ready by the time the marchers reached their campsite on Staten Island. We sold all 500 copies that weekend in New York. I returned to Pittsburgh with enough money to give both co-sponsoring organizations $1000 and also order another 1000 tapes. I took them to Washington, DC on November 15, and we sold all 1000 copies to the 15,000 activists who had shown up to celebrate the end of the march at the Lincoln Memorial.
Since its hasty production on October 2, 1986 this recording has made its way all over the world, raising tens of thousands of dollars for peace and feminist groups from the Nevada Test Site to Greenham Common. The marchers touched the lives of many people in profound ways that we may never completely document or understand. I cherish the great times I had with Liz Marek, one of the moving forces in Wild Wimmin for Peace (as well as in the production of this recording). Liz perished on Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. And it's with sadness that I report the passing of Ginny Dean, whose sweet voice is heard on most of these tracks. When this recording was first released the US and Soviet Union were poised in a nuclear standoff. Global thermonuclear destruction seemed almost inevitable. The dangers are different today, but our work is more necessary than ever. The original cassette liner notes said "Take the positive energy from this recording and use it to teach peace." Still good advice.