Folk singer/songwriter Madi Diaz has unveiled a sparse, timely reinterpretation of Patty Griffin’s 2002 song “Be Careful,” reminding voters that a woman’s right to choose is on the ballot this election day.
Last month, President Biden vowed to send a bill to Congress to codify abortion protections if Democrats retained control of the House after the midterm elections. “If you care about the right to choose then you got to vote,” Biden said at a Democratic National Committee event in October. “That’s why these midterm elections are so critical to elect more Democratic senators in the United States Senate and more Democrats to keep control the House of Representatives.”
When Roe V. Wade was overturned, Diaz said that Griffin’s song about protecting women resonated with her in a political sense. “It became a mantra of strength that was playing consistently in the back of my heart and mind day in and day out, gently encouraging me to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Diaz said in a statement. “It became a sort of battle cry directed toward anyone that wants to take away my rights to my own body and my reproductive freedom.”
Diaz’s reinterpretation of the song, which she co-wrote with her friend Morgan Elizabeth Pierce, evokes the fragile plea of the original song with a new verse:
“For all the parents who are losing sleep
For all the babies that will come to be
For all the reasons that are ours to know
It’s my choice and I am not alone
For every man who’s standing next to me
and queer and trans and non-binary
For everybody with their own body
I will meet you all out on the streets”
Joy Oladokun and S.G. Goodman also sing on the cover and Courtney Marie Andrews and Savana Santos provide backing vocals. Proceeds from “Be Careful (A Patty Griffin Cover)” will benefit Abortion Within Reach Coalition, a nonprofit organization that aims to make abortion accessible at no-cost, and describes itself as “free of politically motivated barriers.”
“This Supreme Court decision affects all of us,” Diaz continued, citing lyrics from Griffin’s song. “‘All the girls with the washing rags,’ ‘all the girls with the shopping bags,’ any person with a uterus and everybody with their own body. This is about control over another person’s human rights and freedoms — the right of making our own choices about our health and wellbeing. When it was so hard to talk about what had just happened in our country, writing about it felt a little easier.
“It felt good to say and sing something that means so much to us and I’m beyond thankful for this group of wonderful humans for coming together to put all of our voices and hearts on record, printing this moment in time, putting it out into the world and harnessing the power that is born when we unite and work together. I hope that anyone needing to hear this song, hears it and feels a little bit less alone. Vote with that in mind.”
Songwriter S.G. Goodman added: “Having to emphasize why the message of ‘Be Careful’ is important at this very moment is tragic within itself. Unfortunately, it’s relevant. The need to plead for a vote ensuring women’s autonomy is relevant.” Last month, Goodman wrote a moving essay for SPIN about her tumultuous experience coming out as a lesbian in her Southern Baptist community, and how writing music helped with her healing process.
Hear Griffin’s original song below: