Born Again American
Born Again American was an initiative of Declare Yourself committed to the rebirth and re-expression of citizenship through informed and thoughtful activism.
As it looked increasingly likely that America was about to elect its first black president, Norman Lear and Keith Carradine met at a dinner party one evening. Carradine picked up a guitar and began playing some Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie songs. He asked about PFAW, the DOI Road Trip and Declare Yourself, which prompted Mr. Lear to say the whole thing was like “a Born Again American experience for me.”
“There’s a song in that phrase,” Carradine said, and a week later he’d written “I’m a Born Again American.”
Just a workin’ man without a job
It got shipped off to China via Washington, D.C.
And I know I’m nothin’ special, there are plenty more like me
Just the same
I thought I knew the rules of the game
I stood up for this country that I love
I came back from the desert to a wife and kids to feed
I’m not sayin’ Uncle Sam should give me what I need
My offer stands
I’ll pull my weight you give me half a chance
I went up to a congressman and said to him “you know
Our government is letting people down”
He said he’d need a lot of help to buck the status-quo
I said there was a bunch of us around
I’m a Born Again American, conceived in Liberty
My Bible and the Bill of Rights, my creed’s equality
I’m a Born Again American, my country ‘tis of me
And everyone who shares the dream from sea to shining sea…
It took the efforts of Director Mark Johnson of Playing for Change, Producer Brent Miller, and 16 performers and two choruses to bring Keith’s song to life in 14 iconic locations around the USA. The singers and musicians, non-professionals all, were chosen because they were living the lyrics in these troubled times, not just performing them.
The film of the song was introduced in January 2009 at PFAW’s pre-Inauguration event.