Of the two names in this post’s headline, you might only recognize PJ Harvey’s, but that’s about to change. Her muse on this track, Shaker Aamer, is the last British citizen currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. Despite being pardoned by both Bush and Obama, and never tried or charged with any crime, Aamer’s been held for eleven years, participating in hunger strikes and undergoing torture, though the British government has tried to negotiate his safe return. Harvey’s lovely, minimalist ode to him is meant to raise awareness about his plight – as the US transfers other prisoners from Guantanamo, no plans to free Aamer have been announced. Check out her track and spread the word: like her best songs, it’s gorgeous, moving, and smartly, concisely written, but with a heartstring-tugging, shimmeringly angry social justice edge.
The song’s lyrics:
“No water for three days.
I cannot sleep, or stay awake.
Four months hunger strike.
Am I dead, or am I alive?
With metal tubes we are force fed.
I honestly wish I was dead.
Strapped in the restraining chair.
Shaker Aamer, your friend.”
In Camp 5, eleven years.
Never charged. Six years cleared.
“They took away my one note pad,
and then refused to give it back.
I can’t think straight, I write, then stop.
Your friend Shaker Aamer. Lost.
The guards just do what they’re told,
the doctors just do what they’re told.
Like an old car I’m rusting away.
Your friend, Shaker. Guantanamo Bay.”