Their rendition of Randy Sharp & Jack Wesley Routh’s “Dreams of the San Joaquin” has been released today on Bandcamp to benefit RAICES &
The United Farm Workers of America
May 7, 2021— What happens when three of this planet’s greatest and most beloved singers unite to record Randy Sharp and Jack Wesley Routh’s classic “Dreams of the San Joaquin” to benefit a crucial cause?
What happens is people are inspired to remember all the farmers, and all the immigrants and refugees that toil in our fields to bring us our daily food. What happens is a renewed focus on helping those in need of help, and substantial funds are generated to make a real change now. It’s all about the real-time power of song. Few modern forces unite people in such righteous, heartfelt ways.
The single is being released today, May 7, 2021, exclusively via Bandcamp, accompanied by a forthcoming video directed by Micah Nelson. Bandcamp will waive 100% of the platform’s revenue share to support artists and causes directly. 100% of the net proceeds from sales of the track will be donated to RAICES [Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.] and the United Farm Workers. The track will be available widely via all streaming services on May 14.
The song has been stunning people for its beauty ever since Randy started playing it for friends and colleagues a few years ago. Usually the response to it from fellow songwriters was, simply, “Wow!” So beautifully crafted in the tradition of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” and “I Ain’t Got No Home,” the song is at once timely and timeless: it’s as specific as can be, yet universal.It’s one of those rare songs which combines a beautiful tune with an urgent message, and which achieves the ultimate aim in songwriting, to write a new song which is both timely and timeless, it’s as specific as can be and yet universal. When a song does that, it can speak to our hearts and minds at once, which makes all the difference. For people to fully grasp the necessary truth of this issue, it takes more than reason and knowledge; it also takes compassion and empathy. Speaking to people’s minds only about our shared humanity doesn’t work. You need to speak to their hearts.
But these days a miracle song like this isn’t enough. Since people are so entangled daily in the chaos of information overload, it’s harder than ever to get their attention. One wise solution is to get a beloved American treasure – like any of these guys – to sing it. If we hear Willie Nelson sing it, someone we’ve loved and trusted for decades. it gets through. The guy is as heroic as Lincoln, after all, though a much better singer. He was the one who started Farm Aid more than three decades ago to honor the American farmers, and to raise serious funds to keep family farmers on the land. He’s one of the greatest American singers and songwriters of all times, and also one of our wisest, most effective and trusted activists.
But uniting Willie’s iconic vocals with those of two more of America’s most cherished and singular vocalists – Michael McDonald and David Hidalgo – maskes this a truly momentous record – and also a deeply beautiful one. Both men are remarkable songwriter-singers who have enriched us for decades in their respective groups (Michael in the Doobie Brothers and David Hidalgo in Los Lobos). And both of them, like Willie Nelson, have voices so soulfully distinctive that they are instantly recognizable, and always powerful. It’s why other great artists have invited them to contribute their sound to their albums (Steely Dan used many layers of Michael McDonald vocals on “Peg” and other songs, and The Doobies reinvented themselves with the greatness of his voice, soul and song. Meanwhile, Paul Simon invited David Hidalgo to sing on Graceland, while Dylan invited him to play on his albums. Simon also has performed the song “Graceland” with Willie Nelson, who recorded it on his own).
“Dreams of the San Joaquin” is quickly becoming a modern standard, made famous first by Linda Ronstadt and Kenny Rogers. It tells the true story of a worker in the fields of California’s San Joaquin Valley during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s and 1940s.
“The migrant farm worker is as responsible if not more for maintaining our country’s position as one of the largest agricultural economies in the world,” said Michael McDonald. “The labor that falls squarely on their shoulders allows farmers to bring produce to our stores and food to our tables as reasonably priced as possible. COVID has ravaged this quadrant of the American workforce disproportionately.”
“RAICES and United Farm Workers Union,” he said, “are working hard to bring vaccine
awareness and financial help to provide distribution to this demographic so hard hit by COVID19.”
“This heartfelt rendition of ‘Dreams of the San Joaquin’ is a beautiful reminder of all that the migrant community of over eight million people sacrifices to give their families a better life. May we all be moved by this song to fight with our migrant brothers and sisters, to whom our country owes so much.”
–Ana Maria Rea-Ventre, Vice President of Advocacy at RAICES
Willie Nelson added, “This was a collaboration of love and a prayer for understanding. It sends a message of hope that we all need to hear. I’ve always loved Mike’s voice and enjoyed making
this with him and my son Micah.”
“This collaboration of love shows that even our oldest friends are still bringing new
understanding to our cause,” notes Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers. “After a particularly brutal year for farm workers, their support is priceless.”