Ted Leo is one of my all-time favorite songwriters — a highly literate punk rocker with folksy roots who's unafraid to grapple with political nuance in personal and poetic ways. So naturally, when I'd heard he'd teamed up with Spencer Ackerman, author of the acclaimed new book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump as well as the Forever Wars newsletter, I was ecstatic. "Into the Conquering Sun" is a scathing indictment on US imperialism (inspired by Ackerman's book) that sounds like it a lost post-punk classic from 1979:
Aside from being an absolute banger of a song, "Into the Conquering Sun" (which also features Sue Werner from War on Women on bass) is being put to good social use as well. Leo is donating 100% of the proceeds from the song to two different funds that support abortion access and reproductive healthcare:
The crises in healthcare and the patriarchal racism that patrols our borders in Texas aren't going away today or tomorrow, so I hope that as the media focus on events down there wanes for the time being, this may at least be a way to keep it in mind and provide a bump in funding for two organizations doing good work, on the ground:
Jane's Due Process – helping young people in Texas navigate parental consent laws and confidentially access abortion and birth control, and
The Frontera Fund – making abortion accessible in the Rio Grande Valley by providing financial and practical support regardless of immigration status, gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, race, class, age, or religious affiliation, and building grassroots organizing power at intersecting issues across the region to shift the culture of shame and stigma.
I'm posting it to Bandcamp and asking for a minimum donation of two dollars ($2.00), which will be split evenly between the two groups, but by all means give more if you can – every cent raised by this song will go to them.
It's a great song for a great cause. And it's made even more powerful by the fact that, for Leo, it's personal: a decade ago, Leo and his wife lost a child in a heartbreaking late-term miscarriage, a topic which he grappled with on the closing song of his 2017 album The Hanged Man. It's a painful reminder of just how important it is that people have unfettered access to full and adequate reproductive healthcare.