Listen to A Dash of  “Salt” Podcast Below:

[Clips from news coverings]

Marches [0:00 – 0:15] 

A show of support across the country yesterday for International Transgender Day of Visibility. People marched around parts of Manhattan, then gathered at Washington Square Park last night, March 31st set aside each year to Mark the day the first one was held in 2010.

Transgender Hate Crimes [0:01 – 0:15]

… The killings of transgender women, particularly those of color, continue at a concerning rate… The American Medical Association branded it an epidemic of violence…


Intro to “Salt” [0:00 – 0:05]


NARRATOR: While Christo Bowman has not directly felt the impact of the news regarding the fate of the transgender community in society, his sympathy for those who are directly impacted has struck a heart string, specifically because of his close friend. The transgender community has come so far in society, but has still a long way to go in terms of rights and fairness.

In 2014, Bowman was told that a close friend was undergoing a transition while struggling with gender identity. The result of this news led to Bowman’s band “Bad Suns” to write “Salt” in order to understand what his friend may be going through. 


“Salt”: [0:05- 0:20]

My body, I must reclaim
With different eyes and no shame
Try, try, to just hear me out
Don’t ask why, why
But I’m taking this route, it’s alright, right?
That’s what I tell myself, but I don’t know, no

NARRATOR: While Bad Suns is not a largely known band, they make up for in their catchy, upbeat Indie Rock style. The intentions of the song can be seen as someone trying to find themselves in their own skin, but after an interview with MTV Bowman explains that, 


“The idea was to try and universalize that  feeling [of gender identity issues]. When the song came out, we did not have to say anything about it.But people would come up to [him] after the shows, talking about the song, [saying], ‘You know, I really feel like this is about me.’ These are people that are not dealing with gender issues. You know what I mean?”


NARRATOR: While at first the song can be interpreted as finding one’s own identity, the music video reiterates the idea that it was made to showcase the transgender community. The music video shows a main character who is clearly struggling with their gender identity. The lyrics coincide along with the visual aspects. As Christo sings, “so I ran ‘til I couldn’t” it shows the main character attempting to kill himself. 

“Salt” [0.31- 0.54]:

That’s what I tell myself, but I don’t know, no
So I ran ‘til I couldn’t
And I screamed ‘til my voice was gone
I believed what I shouldn’t have, I don’t know why
But these memories are nothing to me, just salt

NARRATOR: The music video also shows the mental health struggles of the community in scenes where the main character appears to be battling with different versions of himself. 

“Salt” [1:00- 1:10]:

What it is like to be free
How do I grasp reality
When I don’t have an identity?

NARRATOR: Along with showing the mental health struggles, it also shows the difficulties that society places on members. One example of this is the main character trying to enter the dating world but is not accepted by their partner. This scene shows the two going back and forth between connecting and fighting, which shows what dating what might be like as a transgender member.

“Salt” [1:27 – 2:01]:

So I ran ‘til I couldn’t
And I screamed ‘til my voice was gone
I believed what I shouldn’t have, I don’t know why
I know what you’re implying
I’m trying to get my feet off the ground
I know, I know, I’m trying, I’m trying
These memories are nothing to me, just salt

NARRATOR: Another emotional scene is when the main character looks in a mirror and sees a woman, and loves what they look like, wanting to be the person in the mirror. To cope with this they dress up in drag finally feeling confident. Dressing as drag poses its own problems in the video. They are immediately objectified by a group of men for being a woman. Once the men realize she is a man they assault her. This shows the double edged sword that many face during transition.

“Salt” – [2:28- 2:45]

When I don’t have an identity?
Who, who can I look to?
‘Cause I’m not like you, you
And I don’t believe in the truth, truth
‘Cause all of my life’s built on lies

NARRATOR: The music video ends with the main character going through a gender affirmation surgery and looking in the mirror. Unlike the beginning where the main character saw a woman, the woman now sees the person she used to be. The video ends with the past version of herself walking into the dark. 

“Salt” [3:03- 3:22]:

Yeah, I ran ‘til I couldn’t
And I screamed ‘til my voice was gone
I believed what I shouldn’t have
I’m trying to get my feet off the ground
But these memories are nothing to me, just salt in the wound


NARRATOR: While the song had not yet reached a large audience after it’s release, Christo addresses the crowd at the 2019 Lollapalooza music festival before starting“Salt”…

Lollapalooza (45:26- 49:21)

“‘Thank you for being so good to us today Chicago. Take that with you wherever you go. Be good to one another. Be kind to one another. And love one another, no matter your fucking differences. Alright? This song is called “Salt.”’”

NARRATOR: Not only did Christo write this song to allow the transgender community to be heard, he also advocates for people to love each other no matter who they are. 

Fans resonate with this song because of the outlet that it gives them an outlet to feel safe. Michael DeAngelis, a queer identifying blogger, talks about his relationship with the band and how it has impacted him in his blog “Pride Anthems.”

AI Voice 2:

there’s always a massive discussion (and debate) about representation and allyship in the music industry… Having them represent and embrace my experience as a queer person is incredibly uplifting. Even on this past tour they covered their stages in rainbow lights as they played this song to many in a sold out room- keeping the representation present. My love for this band, and myself, grows every season. Especially during pride season.

NARRATOR:  Bowman emphasizes the importance of accepting people for who they are because of the immense amount of poor treatment towards people that are perceived to be different in society. 

Emily Kazyak, wrote “Pee in Peace”: Public Perceptions of Transgender Rights to examine how different types of people view whether or not transgender people should use the bathroom in which they gender identify or the gender assigned at birth. Emily Kazyak is a sociology professor at the University of Nebraska. Kazyak looked at many different factors including race, gender, political party, religion, and age. When it came to gender 51.8 percent of male-identified respondents and 40.4 percent of female-identified respondents believe that transgender people should use bathrooms that align with the gender they were born with. On the other hand, A quote from their analysis reads, “individuals with a bachelor’s degree and higher, democrats, liberals, and non religious respondents were more likely to believe that transgender people should use bathrooms that align with their gender identity

While the transgender community has continuously struggled with finding a place in society, they have come a long way as a community. Bad Suns could not have made “Salt” without the artists who have come before them who have talked about the transgender community in their own work. In 1975 Carl Bean created what was originally known as the “Gay Anthem” called “I Was Born This Way”

“I Was Born This Way” [0.33- 0.47]:

You laugh at me and you criticize’ cause I’m happy, carefree and gay – Yes, I’m Gay

NARRATOR: It has always been clear that songs from the past have an effect on the future.  “I Was Born This Way” by Carl Bean did not just impact that time period. In 2011, Lady Gaga takes her own take on the song writing, “Born This Way.” In 2011 Lady Gaga tells Billboard, “I want to write my this-is-who-the-fuck-I-am anthem, but I don’t want it to be hidden in poetic wizardry and metaphors. I want it to be an attack, an assault on the issue because I think, especially in today’s music, everything gets kind of washy sometimes and the message gets hidden in the lyrical play.” Lady Gaga wanted to tell people that they are free to be who they are without the judgment of anyone, and in her song “Born This Way” she makes sure to not leave anything up to the imagination. 


“Born This Way” [0.51- 1:13]:

So hold your head up, girl, and you’ll go far’
Listen to me when I say
I’m beautiful in my way ‘cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way”
Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself, and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way

NARRATOR: While it may have been harder for Spierer to be blunt with his meaning in the 1970’s because of the way society was, Lady Gaga finishes the job for him making sure people understand the truth. 

Lady Gaga became a large supporter of the LGTBQ community. She was always advocating for their acceptance in society. One of the other large advocates of the time period was President Barak Obama. In 2014, the year “Salt” was released Obama passed a law that protected LGBT workers in the workplace. 

Obama (1:03- 1:25)

It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. And that’s wrong. We’re here to do what we can to make it right.

While it has taken many years, and there is still work to do, people with authority like Obama are helping the marginalized obtain the rights they deserve.