Kid Reverie (the solo project of Steve Varney, vocalist and banjoist for Gregory Alan Isakov) has released “Wild West,” a song exploring the collective and individual trauma of the King Soopers mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado earlier this Spring. In the song, Varney honors the lives lost in the shooting, and reflects on a similar tragedy that hit particularly close to him for him: the Columbine High School shooting of 1999. Varney, a Columbine graduate, was in middle school when his brother (who was attending the high school), narrowly escaped the massacre by a stroke of luck. 22 years later, we have yet another massacre, and little has been done to prevent it from happening again.
In the song, Varney sings:
I was 14, middle of the Spring
Probably thinking about what the year was gonna bring
Moving down the road, onto high school
Trying to keep my mind on the golden rule
They crammed us inside, every last one
Somebody announced that someone had a gun
No not here, a little down the road
The high school where you’re all gonna go
We filed into class, teachers got mad
They turned on the news and there was no going back
There were kids all running with their hands over head
My brother’s best friend in the window half dead
Diving head-first into the grief, shock, disassociation, and anger of these incidents and their aftermath, Varney’s lyrics pay homage to the people lost, while also offering a condemnation of America’s loose regulations on assault rifles. Varney’s words both soothe and condemn, offering a kind of solace in light of tragedies so awful that words can hardly describe them.
Featuring John Paul Grigsby (Gregory Alan Isakov) on bass and Lauren Jacobson (The Lumineers) on violin, the song’s instrumentation has a beautiful simplicity to it, taking on a more classic American folk revival sound to delve into current (but then again, age-old) topics.
On the track, Varney shares: “All proceeds for this track go straight to the Colorado Healing Fund, an organization focused on helping communities deal with the aftermath of mass violence, such as the Boulder supermarket shooting on March 22nd. Give what you can and please pass the word along to others.
There is no easy answer to any of this, but I think we can agree that, at our very worst, humans make decisions without a clear mind focused on any consequences, and whatever the cause of that detachment, a gun is the absolute worst thing you could add to the equation. I’m just so tired of it. Aren’t you?”
Impactful, angry, and profoundly moving, “Wild West” is a song we all need to hear. All proceeds from the purchase of the song will go straight to the Colorado Healing fund.