Rain Perry is releasing her new record "A White Album" this week and to celebrate, she tells us about the inspiration for the album's first single "The Money." Here is the story:
I'm happy we chose this song as the first single for A White Album, because it's about a topic that was my introduction to why we're still struggling in this country with inequality. A while ago, I had a conversation with a teacher friend in Oakland about redlining, which was a policy of enforced segregation of neighborhoods by the Federal Housing Administration in the post WWII era.
I had no idea. I thought segregation only happened in the Jim Crow South. I knew about restrictive covenants - the paragraph in the deeds of many homes that says, "only white people can ever buy this house, forever." Those were outlawed years ago. But until she laid it out to me, I didn't understand how redlining shut non-white families out of wealth for generations, in a way that's very difficult to ever overcome.
So when I was working on this album, I found myself attempting to write a song on the topic and weirdly ended up with a snappy little ditty with three vocal parts (that I now see was definitely inspired by "Silly Love Songs").
Also, I'm a huge fan of Finding Your Roots on PBS. It's partly because it's fascinating learning about people's family histories, and the researchers on that show are amazing. They'll not only find a ship's passenger manifest with someone's grandmother's name on it, but a photograph of the actual ship leaving Hamburg or Southampton. But that show is subversive. Few white people in America can go very far up their family trees without encountering something grim in our national history, whether it's that our direct ancestors enslaved people, or settled land that was cleared by genocide, or simply benefitted financially from a racial hierarchy.
It's hard to look at this stuff, but I am an optimist. I believe we white people are capable of taking a clear-eyed look at our country's fraught past and present, and I think we have to if we are ever to move forward as a nation. So A White Album is my attempt to give it a try.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the album here