Previewed today in Rolling Stone, “By Degrees” will be available everywhere for streaming or download starting October 19. All proceeds from the song to be donated to Giffords in support of efforts to save lives from gun violence.
October 11, 2018 — As our country continues to grapple with a gun violence epidemic that claims the lives of 96 Americans every day, five musicians from different genres are making a statement of their own by joining with songwriter Mark Erelli to release a new single “By Degrees,” a song that addresses the toll that living with gun violence takes on us, both personally and collectively. Previewed first today in Rolling Stone, the song will be available everywhere for streaming or download on October 19. In releasing the new single, songwriter Mark Erelli is partnering with Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly. Erelli will donate 100 percent of the song’s proceeds to the group to support its efforts to address our country’s gun violence crisis.
“Music has inspired positive change throughout the history of our country. Music gives us an opportunity to think differently and feel emotions deeper. It also helps people through challenging times. Music therapy has been an instrumental part of my recovery,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “I’m proud of this talented group of artists for creating and collaborating together on this powerful expression of how much gun violence costs each of us. And I look forward to continuing to stand with them and fight alongside them as we build a safer future for everyone in our country.”
Songwriter Mark Erelli wrote “By Degrees” to address the toll that gun violence takes on all Americans. This year, after being inspired by the leadership of America’s students and events like March for Our Lives, he wanted this song to become a part of the movement for change. He approached Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Lori McKenna, Anais Mitchell, and Josh Ritter to ask if they would join him in recording it. Each of these artists sings a verse in the single.
A website created for the song’s launch provides listeners with a path to download the song and learn about how this special project came together.
Cash, Crow, Erelli, McKenna, Mitchell, and Ritter, have a combined 18 GRAMMY awards between them, as well as a Broadway musical (Mitchell’s Hadestown, due in 2019), and countless other honors and awards. But the real measure of any song rests not on the notoriety of the singers so much as the quality of the art.
“I knew I didn’t want this to sound like a collection of impressive vocalists whose parts were flown in from separate sessions,” said songwriter Mark Erelli. “I wanted it to be a moving and coherent statement, where everyone was in service to the message of the song.”
With his song, Erelli has made a thoroughly modern contribution to the venerable tradition of protest songs.
“I’ve always maintained that my role isn’t ‘songwriter’ so much as ‘professional witness.’ It’s my job to notice details others may overlook, bring them to the fore, and make it rhyme,” Erelli explained.
To that end, he turned his pen to trends he saw unfolding (“I’ve seen every head bowed down as if lost in private prayer / I’ve seen the phones in every hand, seen the long and vacant stares”) and the backdrop of current events they unfold against (“I’ve seen little hands on little shoulders, children in a line / I’ve seen them led away from school as the shots rang out inside“).
The name “By Degrees” is an acknowledgment of Erelli’s belief that each incremental change makes us more susceptible to the next until the “new normal” is something we never dreamed we could ever get used to.