As soon as the fiddles and guitars came out, the audience in the Payson council chambers knew this would be a humdinger of a public comment.
“I’m going to make a public comment in public form ... uh ... no, music form. With support,” said Emily Wilson turning to her family. “And, it’s to everybody — and we mean it.”
She turned to the audience and smiled.
Then she and her mom, sisters and brother, dressed in black to channel Johnny Cash, sang a song they believed he would have liked — intended to bring everyone together — even in the long shadow of a recall.
“... It’s gonna take collaboration
To solve the problems of our land
So give up yer predictable platitudes
See where you can bend
Let teamwork replace this rivalry
So this Civil War can end
And the one on the right find some common ground
And the one in the middle learns to hear
And the one on the left stops takin’ offense
And the guy in the rear gains an
The family continued their song for five verses (See the complete lyrics at payson.com). The words they hope will inspire the council to take “this as a lesson, if you plan to stay in politics, don’t go mixin’ insults with the governin’ of our land. Just work on good communication ... see where you can bend. Let teamwork replace this rivalry so this civil war can end.”
Later, Shelly Wilson, Emily’s mother, said the idea for the song came as the family realized they know all the folks on the dais.
“We’re good friends with all the council members,” she said.
Jim Ferris taught the family golf when they lived in the Valley. Janell Sterner attends all of their concerts. Suzy Tubbs-Avakian sees them when they volunteer at Payson Community Kids. Barbara Underwood knows Shelly as a substitute at the Payson schools. Chris Higgins knows them from their performances at the Farmers Market. The mayor and Steve Smith they see around town at events.
“We are trying to do what we can and be inspirational,” said Shelly.
Her daughter, Emily, said the family’s interactions inspired some of the lyrics as well.
The Wilson family includes Faith – banjo; Emily – fiddle and vocals; Shelly – fiddle and vocals; Audry – guitar; Eliza – harmonica, piano, percussion and vocals and Michael – mandolin.