Is there no end to the hidden musical talents of legal luminaries? With all their left-brained success, we forget that legal smarties can also have a well-developed creative side. For example, Judge Learned Hand cut a single back in the day. And Judge Richard Owen wrote an opera about Abigail Adams.
Now a giant of the legal academy has entered the music biz. The composer not only performs the short ditty for us all, but also fully annotates the lyrics to provide background to the song….
Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig mounted a protest march earlier this month to raise awareness of the corrupting influence of money in politics. The date was selected to commemorate the death of Aaron Swartz, the Reddit co-founder who committed suicide when government prosecutors threatened him with 35 years in prison for publishing copyrighted material for public consumption, even though that material was probably funded by taxpayer dollars anyway. Swartz was a fellow at the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics that Professor Lessig directs and a good friend of the professor’s.
The march also honors “Granny D,” the alias of Doris Haddock, who walked across the country in 1999, arriving as a 90-year-old in Washington, D.C., to push for campaign finance reform. Granny D’s birthday was January 24, the date Lessig’s march concludes.
Specifically, the march runs from Dixville Notch (the electoral Brigadoon that we remember exists every election year) to Nashua. And along the way, the protestors are going to be doing some singing. Protest songs have a rich history in the American tradition and Lessig decided to compose his own to set the tone of the march. Without further ado, pop on over to Rap Genius to hear Professor Lawrence Lessig getting down with his new work, “We Walk” (the title sounds a little too close to “Walk Hard” for me, but what are you going to do?).
For those unable to click on audio at the moment, the lyrics to the short ditty are:
We walk with love for our country
To honor our grannies and sons.
We walk for an end to corruption
To “the will of the people be done.”
All kidding aside, it’s a really nice song in the folk protest song genre. To the point, easy to memorize, and simple to sing while marching the 185 miles to Nashua during an unfortunately timed polar vortex. The tone is a little depressing, but that befits this setting — unlike that Happy Birthday dirge that Professor Lessig liked.
Professor Lessig was also nice enough to provide annotations to the lyrics posted on Rap Genius. For his selection of “love of our country,” he directs us to his TED Talk describing how liberals love America despite what the Fox say.
As for his decision “To Honor,” Lessig cited an article he wrote in The Atlantic:
I wanted to find a way to mark this day. I wanted to feel it, as physically painful as it was emotionally painful one year ago, and every moment since. So I am marking it with the cause that he convinced me to take up seven years ago and which I am certain he wanted to make his legacy too. On Saturday, we begin a walk across the state of New Hampshire to launch a campaign to bring about an end to the system of corruption that we believe infects D.C. This is the New Hampshire Rebellion.
Along the way, we will recruit everyone we can to do this one thing: We want them to ask every presidential candidate at every event between now and January 2016 one question: “How will YOU end the system of corruption in D.C.?”
To Professor Lessig and his fellow marchers, good luck on the last couple days of your march! Keep warm!
Lawrence Lessig – We Walk Lyrics [Rap Genius]
Harvard Law Professor Sings of Corruption [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
OPERA: ‘ABIGAIL ADAMS’ [New York Times]
Why We’re Marching Across New Hampshire to Honor Aaron Swartz [The Atlantic]