I wrote this song ten years ago. The inspiration for it arose from research I was doing for a medical ethics presentation that I titled, Who’s your Daddies?….or Mummies? Ethical issues in assisted reproduction for same sex couples. I know, nerdy backstory, but there you have it.
The clincher argument for this issue revolves around children’s wellbeing, a subject that was of particular interest to me as a budding paediatrician. So, I read every paper published in the international literature on outcomes for children brought up by same sex couples and came up with absolutely zip evidence that there was any harm being done. In fact, even back then, there was pretty decent evidence that the children of same sex couples were doing at least as well as those from traditional nuclear families. What shocked me as I did this research, was the thinly veiled hate that crept into the academic literature on the subject. At the time, I was a senior medical student, bathed in the evidence-based, critical, open-minded environment of the University of Newcastle. It was a moment where I felt a little piece of innocence drift away, realising that even at the upper echelons of academia, there were people who remained slaves to dogma, cherry-picking their way to confirming their own biases.
At the time, neither major political party was the slightest bit supportive of removing discrimination for LGBTIQ+ people. With rare, partial exceptions, same sex couples didn’t have access to assisted reproduction and were not allowed on the adoption register. As a heterosexual, cis-female I had never needed to consider systemically constructed obstacles to having a family. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I got.
This song was born out my anger. Just downright, good old-fashioned pissed-off. Incensed that people could be so closed minded, so staggeringly impervious to evidence, reason, and compassion. It was born out of my frustration with politicians who, while paying lip service to social justice, refused to make a meaningful stand about the systemic discrimination against same sex couples and their families.
All this poured out into music, into this Song for a Shifting Zeitgeist.
I sensed back then that things were shifting, and thank goodness they have – somewhat. Labor always take too long to come to the party, but I salute the widespread reforms they legislated in 2009. Yet, here we are in 2017 – two days away from finding out the result of a non-binding, ludicrously expensive postal survey to see whether the majority of Australians of voting age think that consenting adults should be able to have a civil ceremony which formalises their declaration of love for each other. My ocular muscles strain from the rolling of my eyes. My heart aches when I think about what LGBTIQ+ people and their children have had to endure during the campaign.
When I wrote this song, I was on a year’s leave of absence from medical school, taken so I could spend time with music. To my band, now scattered around the world – thank you for the magic. Thank you for sharing my anger. I think Brendan shredded about five violin bows during this recording, and one more every time we performed it live! I can’t believe we recorded this ten years ago. Life slides by in a startling fashion. But what better way to release the song – adding a voice to the clamour for justice.
I hope the Zeitgeist has shifted. To all my LGBTIQ+ friends and family, to all the LGBTIQ+ people in Australia, in the world – I’m standing with you. Whatever the result of this survey – I’m with you. And so are millions of others. We create the Zeitgeist, we create the shift. This one’s for you.
Song for a Shifting Zeitgeist
Don’t look at me in that way
I’ve heard what you have to say
and like a child would
I’m going away
Is love just some exclusive game?
That not every person can play?
A path through eternity
or maybe, just today
The way you think is perfect that’s clear
Self-righteousness cloaking your fear
If we keep them dark and childless
maybe they’ll disappear
Live and let live can’t you do?
Must love be like yours to be true?
See I don’t understand –
what’s it matter to you?
Now shake your head and wash your hands
It’s a vote-killer all through the land
‘So many things that I can’t do
unless I ignore this stand’
What will it take for you
to open and see deeper truth?
Maybe it’ll be on Judgement Day
when we all go to heaven too.
Vocals, piano, and songwriting: Melanie Jansen
Guitar, mixing, and mastery: Matthew Giusti
Bass: Sam Bewsher
Drums: Shannon Hurry
Violin: Brendan Daugherty