So Go I

on solidarity, self-interest, and music

Conrad Shaw
4 min readMar 11


A Musical Inspiration

There’s this song I really love. It’s an aspirational hymn about the higher callings of compassion and, more pointedly, solidarity.

It’s called “So Go I” by Bryan Cahall.

Before I go on about it any further, give it a listen:
(lyrics below so you can hum or sing along once the cadence and the spirit inevitably hook you)

Wherever go the wretched, so go I
Wherever go the beaten and despised
Whose beds are made of rubble
Who war has horrified
Wherever go the wretched, so go I

Wherever go the thirsty, so go I
Wherever go the parched, unsatisfied
Whose oases are barren
Whose springs have all run dry
Wherever go the thirsty, so go I

Wherever go the stricken, so go I
Those wounded in the flesh or in the mind
Where illness is the order
And death is always nigh
Wherever go the stricken, so go I

Wherever go the rootless, so go I
The refugee and wandering exile
Wherever legs are weary
From endless dreadful miles
Wherever go the rootless, so go I

Wherever go the shackled, so go I
Be they within the dungeon or outside
Where cruelty is rewarded
And justice deemed a crime
Wherever go the shackled, so go I

Wherever go the naked, so go I
The cold and unprotected and defiled
Where openness is shameful
And truth, undignified
Wherever go the naked, so go I

Wherever I shall go, let there be light
Let there be those whose dreams are made of fire
Whose wings are all enfolding
Whose visions pierce the night
Wherever go such angels, so go I

Damn. It gives me chills every time.

Kind of like seeing a Jason Statham movie makes me feel the urge to do pushups, and fast, this song makes me want to do whatever it takes to become one of the angels he describes. (source — Dall-E A.I. art generator prompted to draw “a badass angel doing pushups”)

I’m not the only one to be deeply moved by this ode to humanity. Bryan’s been asked many a time to play it at rallies, congregations, and other gatherings to help get the crowd all singing along and into a warm, fuzzy, magnanimous state of being in which to better hear, and hopefully then act upon, whatever the message and call to action of the event were to be.

I certainly plan to invite Bryan to join us on tour when we release our UBI docuseries, Bootstraps, and launch our UBI web platform, Comingle. He makes for a very useful warm up act, and any event is better with music.

Another Point of View

Today, though, I was struck by an epiphany. An entirely different interpretation of the song popped into my head.

What if, instead of hearing in these lyrics a call to action, a challenge to be better human beings, we looked at it as a society-level cautionary tale against the delusion of individualism and the mythology of total self-sufficiency, a warning about where our very inescapable interconnectedness will eventually lead us if we fail to tend to the wretched, the thirsty, the stricken, the rootless, the shackled, and the naked?

It suggests a humanism rooted not only in altruism, respect, and generosity of spirit, but also in self-interest. There but for the grace of social cohesion go we all, and, therefore, so go I.

The more we allow these forms of scarcity to exist around us, the more we will all be dragged downward in their direction.

The more we elevate and empower the most vulnerable in society, the more powerful and resilient we all will become.

Like one great chain of humanity, our fates are inextricably linked. We all rise up as one, or we all go down together. Your fate is my fate.

If you’re tempted at this point to scroll back up and listen to the song once more in this light, don’t let me stop you. I’ll wait right here.

For me, at least, this presents a compelling new way to appreciate the concept of solidarity:

It’s not just empathy, camaraderie, allyship, or saviorism. There also exist much more personal stakes. It’s self-preservation. It’s survival.

It’s our own asses on the line.

One More Song for the Road

Full disclosure: Bryan is a friend of mine. I saw him perform at an event maybe 7 years ago, and, since I too endeavor to find myself as often as possible in the company of such fiery dreamers and visionaries, I immediately determined to endear myself to him.

Bryan’s music, I think, is worth anyone’s time to discover and to fall in love with, so I unabashedly suggest that you go and do that very thing at this time.

For now, I’ll leave you with another tune of his called “All That’s Worth Much,” a piece that harkens to many of my favorite themes around human value more eloquently and completely than I’ve ever expressed them in a thousand-word essay.

“I mourn my dying minutes, for they don’t belong to me.”

Bryan may not have written these songs with the idea of UBI specifically in mind, but I consider “So Go I” and “All That’s Worth Much” to be quintessential UBI anthems.

Want to read more? Here’s a handy list of links to all my Medium pieces on basic income.



Conrad Shaw

Writer, UBI researcher (@theUBIguy), Actor, Filmmaker, Engineer