By Christopher Treacy, Madi Diaz, Joy Oladokun, and S.G. Goodman
This powerhouse trio of singer-songwriters recently came together, united by concerns for what most of us know as a basic human right: the right to choose. Overturning Roe v. Wade sets a dangerous precedent in this country with far reaching consequences we can only begin to imagine.. especially those of us that are not physically built to bear children. As the decision came down, Madi Diaz felt drawn to a song off of Patty Griffin’s 1000 Kisses album. It’s impossible for us to know exactly what “be Careful” was written about. on the one hand, it seems like it could be written about different types of young women—the various ways they come of age and the things that unite them. On the other, it reads as if it could have been written about abortion itself. Whatever Griffin’s intention, along with S.G. Goodman and Joy Oladokun, (plus Courtney Marie Andrews and on backing vocals) Diaz covered the song, adding a new verse that drives home the fresh context in which it’s being presented.
“For all the parents who are losing sleep/For all the babies that will come to be/For all the reasons that are ours to know/It’s my choice and I am not alone/For every man who’s standing next to me/and queer and trans and non-binary/For everybody with their own body/I will meet you all out on the streets/So be careful how you bend me/Be careful where you send me/Careful how you end me/Be careful with me.”
The cover is arrestingly rendered—deeply moving, it’s a triumph to all involved. Released just prior to last week’s midterm elections with proceeds to benefit Abortion Within Reach Coalition, it seemed like a no-brainer to be our Song of The Week in the new CQ Roundup. The trio kindly made time to answer a few questions for us.
“Be Careful” suits the larger context with which you’ve aligned the song near-perfectly. Who’s idea was it to record this cover?
Madi: I started singing “Be Careful” sort of subconsciously the day that Roe v. Wade was overturned. I just wanted to play it over and over and over. I asked S.G. and Courtney Marie Andrews to sing “Be Careful” with me at Newport Folk Festival back in July. I wrote the last verse with my high school best friend, and then a week after that S.G. reached out about recording something together that we could release ahead of the primaries. We wanted to shake some shit up and do it for charity, and that is exactly what we did.
Were you able to record it together, or did you email your pieces and build the track remotely? If it’s the latter… is this a satisfying way to record?
S.G.: We mostly recorded the song together. Because we are all touring musicians the fact that three out of four of the vocalists were able to be in the same room was a miracle. Even though Joy wasn’t able to be in person with us, it was so special getting to hear the mix after her verse was laid down.
How did you choose each other to band together for this cover? Were you already acquainted?
Joy: Madi and I have been writing buddies for a bit now and she reached out after we played together at Newport.
Patty Griffin is considered “an American treasure” by those in the know; her songwriting is a benchmark. And although she isn’t queer, she has written about the queer experience with uncanny insight (“Tony”). Can you talk a bit about how her work has impacted your life?
Joy: I think I owe any artist that allows people to step inside the queer experience as many flowers as I can find. Patty Griffin’s vulnerability in writing has opened a path to humanizing and celebrating women and queer people by making our fears and desires known. It’s special and I’m grateful for it.
Tell me what you can about adding the new verse. Did you need to ask Patty’s permission… to be careful with “Be Careful” ?
Madi: I’ve never added a verse to someone else’s song before, nor have I ever EVER felt inspired to do so. I think Morgan Pierce and I both needed some way to sing about what we were going through. “Be Careful” was the perfect spring board to vocalize what was in our hearts. It was quite nerve racking to ask someone that I’ve looked up to for so long to add on to a completed masterpiece. Our intention was to express the urgency of the time we are living in and call on people to stand with us. It was a nurturing experience all around, and I’m so beyond lucky that Patty Griffin was willing to let us sing her song for the cause.
Music is definitely a way to transcend one another’s differences and reach folks on a gut level; That’s why politicians use it at rallies, for instance (often without permission!). Was this project always intended to be released in the run up to midterms?”
Madi: That was definitely the goal! The release of the recording was a flame fanned by our country’s divide and fight over human rights. All of the people involved in the release of this song want to take action to empower the people whose lives are being endangered by the harmful decision that was made by our government.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He’s the Managing Editor for CQ and lives in Waitsfield, VT.
Got new music? Submit it to CQ.