Brexit is a massive exercise of ‘wall building’. Potentially, it could be just as much a physical entity as Trump’s wall along the Mexican border and more disruptive and costly in human and financial terms. ‘Why We Build The Wall’ by Anaïs Mitchell was written in 2006 and it was as if she could foresee the days we toil through now with a world of new political wall building. This powerful song has been vibrating in our collective consciousness for over a decade and since 2016 it has really started to reverberate. Three performance versions of the song are included here.
The first is a short version excerpt from the opera ‘Hadestown’ with addition video and audio setting current times into the context of the lyrics.
The second is the complete song sung by Anaïs the composer. As well as being wonderful songwriter she has an amazing voice and talent for performance.
The third version is performed by Billy Bragg with an introduction setting the context of this song in contemporary times.
Art has the ability to express wisdom and truth in deeply effective and accessible ways. Songs of protest are most frequently employed to give a powerful voice to political and social feelings and opinions. Great songs of protest stand the test of time and I have no doubt that ‘Why We Build The Wall’ by Anaïs Mitchell will be sung for many decades to come.