Noting that the song was originally written for Rachel Corrie, an activist who died during a peacekeeping mission in the Gaza Strip, Smith also paid tribute to young activists, artists and journalists striving for peace and change. She then added: “And we also would like to remember all the young people who lost their lives in the Oakland fire. And when you look at the pictures of them, all of them brimming with such hope, we need our young people. We pin our faith on them. They are going to make the most revolutionary changes in human history. They will continue to build peace movements, to protect our environment. And so we sing this little song for them.”
Smith then eased into a simple but elegiac rendition of the Trampin’ track, backed by just her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, on piano and “Peaceable Kingdom” co-writer Tony Shanahan on guitar. Smith then welcomed R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe for a performance of “People Have the Power.”
Thirty-six people have been confirmed dead since the fire broke out during a concert at the Oakland warehouse known as the Ghost Ship last Friday. The cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, though the Oakland Planning and Building Department said that the warehouse’s landlord, Derick Almena, did not request any permits for the party that would have allowed city employees to inspect the venue for safety lapses. The Ghost Ship also served as a home for several artists.