All You Stupid Sheep
On January 21, 2017, Mark Baumer was struck and killed by an SUV on the side of a Florida highway. The writer, video diarist and environmental activist was in the midst of a quest to walk across America barefoot, raising awareness of climate change. While processing the trauma of losing his son, Mark’s dad, Jim Baumer, started writing songs. “The more I played, the more I wanted to play, and I began feeling some small measure of healing,” he shared. All You Stupid Sheep is his first compilation of these tunes, performed live-to-tape in a proudly imperfect way, with nothing more than a mic, an electric guitar, and some basic drum-machine patterns. As the title suggests, this EP is not a somber expression of grief. Most of these tracks are raw, bitter political diatribes. “Living in This World” puts the left on notice for not practicing what they preach. “Divide and Conquer” rages at science-deniers. And “National Disgrace” calls Donald Trump “a public fucking shame.” Baumer’s lyrics can be inartistically blunt (“Humans are at odds, divided by whites and blacks”), but the point of this project is not to achieve nuance. This is a grieving parent opening himself up to the world, and therein lies the value of All You Stupid Sheep. “I wish I had just one more day,” Baumer sings from the perspective of his son on the closing “Walking Down the Road.” It’s not a moment for us to parse. It’s a song for Jim Baumer and his family, and it is heartbreakingly authentic.