I wrote Fruited Plains in February of 2011 as part of my second RPM challenge. The RPM challenge is a home recording challenge where participants complete an album of original music in the month of February.
I was really enjoying my life this particular February. I only had to go to my day job three days a week on account of being seven months pregnant. I had free time. Aside from nesting, I was studying things that interest me, and working on the writing and recording required to complete the RPM challenge. I started out the challenge by recording a few songs I had already written. For one of the previously written tracks, “Ballad of a Folk Singer Waitress”, I had added a banjo track that I was quite happy with.
I do not really play the banjo. My husband plays tenor guitar and tenor banjo. I live with these instruments (we live with a lot of instruments) and I understood the tuning and a few basic chords. It was not, however, an instrument I was truly proficient at. While adding the banjo track, I had become mesmerized with the timbre of the instrument. I had also been forced to learn some more chords and become more familiar with the instrument. After I finished recording a few previously written songs, I needed to write some new material. The banjo provided the perfect inspiration.
I wrote the music to the song and lyrics soon followed. The music I had come up with made me think of some documentaries I had recently watched about agriculture in the United States and the Monsanto Corporation. The topics covered included the legality of patenting seeds, the power of lobbyists, GMOs, and how farmers receive a subsidy for overproducing crops that are not fit for human consumption. There was a profound sadness in hearing farmers talk about how a once noble profession was being destroyed by greed, corporate bullies, and a system that works against what is best for farmers and consumers. I added some lyrical elements of “America the Beautiful” and then twisted them to create the image of a dystopia. Some songs take me years to write. This one took less than two hours.
Aside from the vocal and banjo tracks, I added an acoustic guitar part and some back up vocals. The recording I finished for the RPM challenge is available on my website, www.erinjordan.com .
I am a huge proponent of eating organic and my day job is actually working at an organic food restaurant. This song is particularly timely because the spending bill HR 933 which includes a “farmer assurance provision” (section 735) was signed in to law recently. Referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” this provision was written with representatives from Monsanto and bars courts from restricting the use of GMO crops and seeds regardless of what new information comes to light about the harmful effects of GMOs.
There is a huge amount of information available about these issues. If you are in to brevity, below are two articles that briefly explain the bill in question and how the Monsanto Protection Act became a part of it. For now, I am going to continue working on my own organic garden. The baby I was pregnant with when I wrote this song is now two, and is a great gardening assistant. He picks out all the rocks and gives the worms plenty of love. These are my small ways of telling Monsanto to suck it.