As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. Just as we did for our first two records (see the stories behind the songs on our first CD 13 and the songs on our second CD Again), we’ll post the story behind each song on our new CD now more than ever here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next few weeks.
Here is the story behind Aceldama as related by Allen Kitselman.
The song “Aceldama”
Aceldama has been resurrected a few times over the years. It was originally written at the end of the last century just before Genghis Angus breathed its last breaths. The band performed Aceldama live back then, but never recorded it in any form other than as a personal demo on cassette. More recently, Aceldama was resurrected as a Bitter Liberals song recorded on our first record, 13. In fact, Aceldama is so prolific it has even been through multiple iterations as a Bitter Liberals song! [ed: read the story behind the 2013 version of Aceldama here.]
The idea for Aceldama came from an old friend who turned me onto email “Word of the Day.” One day the word was “Aceldama.” It’s an ancient word that describes the piece of land that Judas bought with the 30 pieces of silver he earned for betraying Jesus. The land became a “Potter’s Field” where strangers who died while passing through could be buried. I thought this was fascinating, and that led to the main conception behind the song.
Judas, history’s classic, flawed, greedy, weak human somehow created a place where unknown people could find a place to rest eternally. Which means the greatest betrayal in history ends up creating a discernible bit of positive effect in the world. Most of us, upon serious self-examination can relate to the flawed character of poor Judas. We all have those two little competing voices, one on each shoulder. Some days the little dark red guy wins. Most of us try to be good, but if we’re honest, we can always relate somehow to flawed Judas looking for some silver. There are periods of emotional transformation that we all live through as a result of our choices. That’s one reason why the song Aceldema starts in anger and ends in forgiveness.
The Bitter Liberals first recorded this song on “13” (in 2013). After the band’s evolution into a full complement including our esteemed rhythm section, the song was resurrected yet again with a completely novel Afropop feel.
My favorite image in thinking about this song is video footage of Clark on a trip to Tanzania. He is playing the great guitar hook from the song to a group of little African children who are dancing and beaming. So much life! We saw the video and took the arrangement in the full African direction.
Just listen to that rhythm section shine in this version! Once again, Aceldama has a new life! And it’s really fun to play.
Clark plays a “going to dinner” song for the kids in Africa. Here is a video.
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