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Litany Against Fear

Written by [Jared Bailey]

Now anyone who can honestly claim to know me knows all too well that my favorite trumpet player is Christian Scott. After all, he's a beast on the horn, doesn't put music into a box (using rock and hip hop influences) all while still being able to execute "straight ahead" jazz like a pro, and most of all he keeps it 100% real (he has a song entitled Ku Klux Police Department for crying out loud). I mean what else could you possibly ask for in a musician? The great thing about Chris is the pure emotion and conviction that can be felt through his music. The first time I experienced this was when I visited his Myspace page and heard what is still arguably (against "Died in Love") my favorite song of his: "Litany Against Fear".

Staying true to Scott's heavy influence of rock, "Litany Against Fear" starts with a repeated guitar riff by Matthew Stevens. As the driving force to the song, this repeated phrase can be thought of as a musical litany. A litany is a repeated prayer or statement that is usually used for ritualistic purposes.

Hearing this song for the first time was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE!!! I honestly have no other way to describe it. Knowing that the Anthem album was influenced by Katrina, I began to visualize images of New Orleans that were burned into my mind from Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. I had to have listened to it about ten times straight nonstop with the volume in my headphones all the way up (I vividly remember my mother yelling at me for not being able to hear when she called me lol). I guess the easiest way of describing what happens when I hear this song is just the statement "I vibe". Even now, I listen to this song (as well as other Christian Scott songs) when I have a lot on my mind, when I'm angry, sad, even when I pray. Ironically, a litany is a prayer or chant, used in most cases for ritualistic purposes.

In order to fully appreciate this song (or any song for that matter), you must first understand the meaning behind the song. "Litany Against Fear" was written when Scott visited his hometown of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While in New Orleans he saw a young boy crying. When Scott asked the boy why he was crying, he said that he could not tell the difference between good and bad police.

I have been a fan of Scott's music since I first heard this track about 2 1/2 years ago. The emotion exuded from this song is RIDICULOUS. If you think the recordings are great, hearing in person is on a COMPLETELY different level. Personally, I've always related to "Litany Against Fear" emotionally in a way that directly correlates with the title. Fear is one of the main emotions that hold people back from reaching their full potential. When I hear this song, I think of my own litany against fear, my own statement to fear itself, declaring that I will no longer let it hold me back but instead trust that I will do exactly what I was created to do in my lifetime. Scott once said that his intention was to use this music to "help purge the things that are going on personally" with him, simultaneously "helping the listener to get through their experience", and that is exactly what he has done with "Litany Against Fear". The beauty about most jazz is that it has no words, thus allowing you to apply your own imagery, even your own words (there are certain songs that I've written words to based off how the song makes me feel) and truly be immersed in the music. What will your story be?