“Black Oil” turns out to be eerily appropriate in the wake of the BP oil
By Blurt Staff
In the midst of the ongoing
disaster of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,
local TV and radio stations along the Gulf coastline have been airing
“Black Oil,” a song from The
Quickening the latest album from Liverpool-born songwriter Kathryn
Williams. (You can read the BLURT review of the album here.) In response, Ms.
Williams, along with her record label, One Little Indian, her distributor,
MRI/Sony, and her publishers, Cooking Vinyl Music and Downtown Music are all
donating 100% of their proceeds from the sale of “Black Oil” to the
Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) – you can find it on iTunes here.
Her lyrics make their point:
Thought it was a trick of the light,
how the fields shone yellow,
When it was so close to night.
There must be some fire in those flowers,
because they get crushed up and turned into black oil.
“Thought it was the night
but the birds were head to toe in black oil.
“Black Oil” was written
and recorded before the explosion of British Petroleum’s Transocean Deepwater
Horizon rig back in early April, drawing on Kathryn’s childhood memories and
her husband’s experiences with the effects of previous environmental
catastrophes caused by the oil industry.
Observes the songwriter, “I
had memories as a child of birds covered in black oil; of remembering that it
took a whole day to clean a bird; that there were not enough days or volunteers.
I remember hearing and seeing it on Blue Peter and Newsround (children
television shows in the U.K.)
and crying and crying.
“I talked to my husband about
it and he told me about the Amoco Cadiz disaster where the boat had broken in
two. That had happened off the coast of Brittany
and covered the coast and beaches of Jersey (the small island between France and England where he’d grown up). He
remembers as a child seeing sea birds head to toe in oil, and how it seemed that
the beach and nature itself had been broken by the disaster.”
The initial inspiration for
“Black Oil” stemmed from an entirely different experience. Williams
was driving through rapeseed fields, explained to her son that oil was
extracted from the seeds and later made notes about their conversation. When
she began to write about this experience it reminded her about the impact of
past oil spills.
BP’s deep sea well spewed millions
of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico per
day. While the cap is now on the tank,
the problems from the spill will live on for years. Williams hopes that “Black Oil” helps keep the American people
aware that the situation will not be remedied quickly, and the long-term lethal
impact on the people, fish, birds and other wildlife throughout the region
deserve continued attention.
Kathryn Williams, MRI/Sony, One
Little Indian, Downtown Music and Cooking Vinyl are not directly affiliated with
the Natural Resources Defense Council or any of its programs, projects or websites.
For more information about specific environmental protection issues: www.nrdc.org.