Although he originally released “The Ends and the Means” in 2017, Robby Hecht is now releasing a gorgeous and poignant orchestral version of it (produced by Jordan Hamlin), just when we need it most. Ben Plotnick’s violin and viola and Kaitlyn Raitz’s cello introduce the song with soaring walls of sound that lay the somber foundation for Hecht’s luminous storytelling and searching meditations on human nature and its foibles. Hecht reflects on the ragged ways we often embrace evil acts—such as murder or genocide—because we believe we are acting with moral courage to achieve good ends. As he cycles through history, he reveals the ways that Christian kings could justify murder in the name of God in the Crusades—“11th century AD, a king says come to war with me”—that the terrorists flying the planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11 believed they were acting righteously—“They tell him that life is nothing more than a weapon in a time of war”—and that Donald Trump’s cruel and vindictive monomania creates a bent image of goodness—“He preys upon the people’s fears, tells them what they want to hear.” The first four verses end with the refrain: “The ends, they justify the means, my friends/Oh the ends, they justify the means.” In the final verse, Hecht brilliantly turns the tables as he sings about the death of Jesus who proclaims in the Sermon on the Mount that we’re all a part of each other, and that moral courage means loving one another to achieve the end of a more just community. Society cannot hear such a message, though—“When society had had enough, they beat him down”—and kill Jesus. As the final verse ends, the refrain is reversed: “The means, they justify the ends, my friends/Oh the means, they justify the ends.” The beauty of the song lies in its recognition that every one of us lives along a moral spectrum where sometimes we justify our actions by declaring that the ends justify the means or by proclaiming that our means justify the ends, the consequences, of our actions.
As Hecht points out, “’The End and the Means’ is a meditation on cause and effect that looks at perceptions of purpose, power, empathy and truth through a historical lens. It is a cycle of five vignettes, beginning in the late 11th Century, moving through the period from 2001-2016, and ending in approximately 30 AD. It’s the longest it has ever taken me to complete a song- I began writing it in 2003 around the start of the Iraq war and finished it in January 2017 on Inauguration Day.”
“The Ends and the Means” is available now for pre-order/pre-save – HERE.