I’m bouncing around the system as it’s trying to figure me out. I just want someone to risk it and hear what I have to say. I am not a victim just got a real story to tell. I can’t speak but I need you to listen. I’m more like you than not like you. I’m more like you then you’ll ever know. I hurt like you and cry like you. I’m more like you, wouldn’t you like to know?
So sings Ben Harper on “More Like You,” one of 20 breathtaking tracks that accompany the documentary “Wretches and Jabberers.” The film tells the tale of Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette are two men with autism who, as the film’s synopsis proclaims, have limited speech but a whole lot to say. Traveling from their homes in Vermont, the duo journeyed to Japan, Sri Lanka and Finland to erase misconceptions and advocate for a broader understanding of autism.
Not with a bang but a whisper, all the foundations fell. As the old guards protested, I armed them with a smile. I was there when it happened as they washed their faces clean. It’s only fair, I need to be counted. I’m more like you than not like you. I’m more like you than you’ll ever know. I hurt like you and cry like you. I’m more like you, wouldn’t you like to know?
Musician J Ralph wrote or co-wrote each song, with lyrics inspired by the observations that Tracy and Larry make throughout the movie. When it came time to record the tracks, Ralph contacted an extraordinary collection of musicians, both friends and strangers, to lend their voices. Artists from Ben Harper to Bob Weir and from Norah Jones to Devendra Barnhart answered the call.
Don’t believe your eyes. What you see is not real. Please do not deny. I will be revealed. I’m more like you than not like you. I’m more like you than you’ll ever know. I laugh like you and cry like you. I fight so hard everyday to let you know.
There was only one caveat: the musicians weren’t allowed to hear the songs until they arrived at the studio. The results are astonishing. Ralph’s gentle melodies and arrangements place the emphasis on the lyrics. The distinctive voice of the singers breathe life into each story. The result is a collection filled with compassion and humanity.
There is music and there is music with a purpose. File this release under the latter.
Audio Download: Ben Harper, “More Like You”
Audio Download: J Ralph, “The Reasons Why”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.