This city has transformed before my eyes from a gritty unpolished gem of the Pacific Northwest, to a slick trendy haven for upwardly-mobile yipsters. The wealthier folks are pushing out the less-affluent. Old buildings, classic landmarks, and sweet open space are disappearing and being replaced by giant, bland condo buildings. The "weird" personality of Old Portland has made way for the cookie-cutter "quirky" restaurants, boutiques, and bars of New Portland. I've never seen a city transform so quickly. When I drive around these days I don't even recognize where I am because the landscape has changed so quickly. Admittedly, as one of the many artists who moved to town a decade ago, I'm part of the problem and it's a constant source of remorse for me.
This song is not necessarily about urban gentrification, but it is about "rich folks" taking over the land of the poor folks who tended to the land.
Phillips Mitchell is a soul singer out of Kentucky who bounced around in different soul scenes before briefly landing at Hi Records in Memphis to record his composition "Turning Over the Ground". He went on to write more of my favorite soul classics, "It Hurts So Good" and "Star of the Ghetto" among others. But it's this song that really grabs my heart and squeezes. It has in fact, brought me to tears at times.
For more background on the racial implications of the gentrification of Portland, Oregon please click here. Read about the history and then listen to this song.