5/31/20: Week 31: "To Live With Death".
During these uncertain times… I'm sick of hearing that line. It seems like every commercial starts with it. But here it goes again…
During these uncertain times, we need to ponder how lucky we are. We're able to stay safe and healthy. This song came from my pondering of how lucky I am. You may recognize the melody of this song as "Silver Dagger" by a very productive songwriter named Trad.
If we haven't learned already, during this pandemic we need to learn to live with death.
This was performed at the virtual Roslindale Open Mike via ZOOM a few days ago. In addition to the video, here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
5/24/20: Week 30: "World's End".
Unfortunately, the virus is distracting us from other important issues. The chief one is Climate Change. It's tempting to look at the virus as a pause in Climate Change, but I don't think it will have a long-term effect.
This week, after a wait of two months, I got to do one of my favorite things…walk at World's End in Hingham MA. The park re-opened this week, though you need to reserve a spot in advance, and they went fast. We saw deer, snakes, chipmunks, egrets, an oriole, and beautiful green trees. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted as a residential community, and there was consideration to put the United Nations there. Fortunately, neither of those happened.
My World's End song is in the form of a pantoum poem, "composed of a series of quatrains; the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The pattern continues for any number of stanzas, except for the final stanza, which differs in the repeating pattern. The first and third lines of the last stanza are the second and fourth of the penultimate; the first line of the poem is the last line of the final stanza, and the third line of the first stanza is the second of the final. Ideally, the meaning of lines shifts when they are repeated although the words remain exactly the same: this can be done by shifting punctuation, punning, or simply recontextualizing." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantoum
I made this video with pictures my wife and I have taken over the last few years at World's End. Here are the lyrics and a demo recording. I hope this song and video convey the natural beauty of World's End and the risk of Climate Change.
5/17/20: Week 29: "MAHA – Make America Hate Again" (The Presidential Hate Awards)
This song was inspired by tRump giving Rush Limbaugh a Medal of Freedom Award at the Inaugural Address. It was despicable. But I realized that what he was doing was intended to be a distraction. I realized that so much of what he does is to create a distraction. He gets us talking about injecting bleach or the wall, instead of how he is destroying the environment and putting unqualified Federalist Society ideologues into lifetime judge appointments.
So, I hope you enjoy the song, but keep your eyes on what's really important. And let's get him the hell out of there as soon as possible.
This song was performed at a recent Virtual Roslindale Open Mike (vROM), so the audio and video are a little sketchy. In addition to the video, here are the lyrics and the demo recording.
5/10/20: Week 28: "Stormy Daniels"
With our singular focus on the virus, it's easy to overlook the upcoming election. As you've seen, I've written a bunch of songs on the topic of tRump being unfit to be President. He proves that over and over every day. Here's one more song…
You will certainly remember that he paid hush money to women he had sex with to try to keep them hidden. Over a year ago, my friend Cece Borjeson suggested I should write a parody of "Stormy Weather" for "Stormy Daniels", so I did. Recently I've had some time at home, so I worked on a video for the song. I put together a stunt band and found video clips on the internet and put this together.
I hope you like it, but more importantly, as we get to the election, I hope you will keep in mind that in every way he is unfit to be President.
In addition to the video, here are the lyrics and the demo recording.
5/3/20: Week 27: "Get Over It, Greta".
One of the most unfortunate things about the pandemic is that we've forgotten about everything else. I think the most important issue for the planet is Climate Change. Last year at the UN Climate Summit, 16-year old activist Greta Thunberg gave an impassioned speech. She was given Time's "Person of the Year Award" and tRump tweeted that she needed to "work on her anger management problem…go to a movie…and Chill, Greta, Chill." She doesn't need to chill, and we can't wait for her generation to deal with the Climate Catastrophe.
I performed this song at the recent debut Virtual Roslindale Open Mike (vROM) via ZOOM. Here are the video, lyrics, and a demo recording.
4/26/20: Week 26: "She Is Our River".
It's Week 26, halfway through the year of PERSIST-RESIST-2020. To celebrate the halfway point, I've picked a hopeful, uplifting, non-virus song, "She Is Our River". A few months ago, I heard a story on NPR: "Tribe gives personhood to a river". (https://www.npr.org/2019/09/29/765480451/tribe-gives-personhood-to-klamath-river).
In order to protect the Klamath River in California, the local tribe designated personhood for the river so it would have the rights of a person. That sounded like a good song topic to me. I picked it for this week, as an inspiration that caring for our planet is more important than what ratings our dear leader is getting for this daily virus rally.
I hope it will inspire you to be a warrior steward of our environment.
There's no video for this song yet, but here are the lyrics and the demo recording.
BONUS CONTENT: Here are two ZOOM videos of "When We Used to Have Truth. The first is masked me singing to the demo recording. The second is a performance at the dry run of a virtual Roslindale Open Mike.
4/19/20: Week 25: "When We Used to Have Truth".
"When We Used to Have Truth" is a parody of "If We Only Have Love" from Jacques Brel. It was written over a year ago, but it still rings true today. Isn't it ironic that tRump calls everything he dislikes "fake news" but will quote from them if they say something he likes and is always ready to repeatedly lie to try to rewrite history or play to his dwindling base? I thought about doing a home video for this song, while I was trying make a mask out of a bandana. So, this video was made with proper social-distancing and PPE.
Here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
4/12/20: Week 24: "Crisis Actor".
Crisis Actor: I have been avoiding the daily virus rally from the White House. It's sickening that you know who can just lie and get away with it. It's also insulting the way he speaks to the press and talks about others. It's clear that he is incompetent and is unfit to be President. In fact, I realized that he isn't President, he's a crisis actor. He's not a real President. I wrote this song a few days ago to explain what I mean. Then I assembled some video clips from the internet to give is a visual presentation.
Thank you to Karen Sauer for some harmony vocals. Here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
4/5/20: Week 23: "I Want To Be Quarantined With You".
Unfortunately, like everyone else, nearly all my thoughts now are on the virus. How I need to strive to keep my family and myself safe and healthy. My wife and I are spending even more time together than we usually do. So, I wrote this song as I thought about it. I hope you like it. There's no video; only the lyrics and the demo audio recording.
But while we are focusing on the virus, tRump continues to work on ruining our country and our environment. His court case to end Obamacare continues. He is lowering fuel efficiency standards so his oil cronies can exacerbate global warming. He is trying to end DACA so he can deport about a million people who had the unavoidable circumstance of being brought to this country by their parents, seeking a safer, better life. He just fired the National Security Inspector General.
So, let's not forget that we are drawing closer to the November election and need to do everything we can to win.
3/29/20: Week 22: "Enemy of the People".
A little over a year ago I wrote "Enemy of the People" from a song prompt to write something with chromatic elements in it.
Chromatic: Giving all the tones of the chromatic scale, characterized by frequent use of accidentals.
The chromatic part of the song is the eerie ascending notes for the phrase "enemy of the people". Unfortunately, it still works today. But the press isn't the enemy of the people, tRump is.
We are fortunate in this country to have a free press as well as freedom of speech. We have the right to assemble, but not right now. In fact, here are the five freedoms from the U.S. Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Since I can't perform songs at my currently shut down Roslindale Open Mike, I added clips from the internet to form a suitable video for this song.
Here are the lyrics and the demo recording. :
3/22/20: Week 21: "Chopper Talk".
Don't you miss the daily inaudible briefings from the lawn of the White House with the revving Chopper 1 in the background? Well this week we have a new song, and an accompanying video, with the best images of "Chopper Talk". I guess it's a rap.
But tell me, which is worse:
1. An inept White House press secretary lying to the media in the Press Briefing Room, or
2. An unfit poseur giving an error-filled address from the Oval Office, or
3. Cadet Bone Spurs trying to keep from tripping over his tie while he paces around like a caged animal and professes that he can't hear the hard questions from reporters?
In addition to the video for "Chopper Talk", here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
3/15/20: Week 20: "Rainbow Faces".
How did we elect such a xenophobic President? Even the coronavirus is a foreign invader that must be stopped at the border. I heard he wants to round up all the foreign viruses and put them in concentration camps.
This week I give my take on the country that I see with a new song "Rainbow Faces". My favorite lines are in the bridge:
We all came from another place
By choice, by force, or risky escape
Travelers running in the human race
We struggle every day to survive
This was performed on 3/9/20 at Roslindale Open Mike, thanks to Karen Sauer and Chris Lee.
Here are the video, lyrics, and demo recording.
Now go wash your hands!
3/8/20: Week 19: "New O Canada".
Several people have recently said to me that if tRump wins reelection, they are out of here—moving out of the country. I feel the same way. In fact, when I retired and moved to Hawaii, I looked at it as moving as far away from tRump while still being in the country. I realize I could have moved to American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, or even the Palmyra Atoll, but that would have put me in a place even hotter than Hawaii and perhaps without some of the creature comforts I've become used to, like open mikes.
Here is the video for "New O Canada" performed at Roslindale Open Mike, as well as the lyrics, and a demo recording.
3/1/20: Week 18: "Nothing New Ever Happened Before".
This week we need some hope and inspiration.
I heard an interview on Sixty Minutes last year with Ben Ferencz, a 97-year-old Nuremberg war crimes trial prosecutor after World War II. In the interview he said, "It takes courage, not to be discouraged." and "Nothing new every happened before. I loved those quotes and expanded them into this song. I'm trying to take this message with positivity and look ahead for the good things that can happen if we work for it.
This was performed at Roslindale Open Mike with the help of Karen Sauer and Chris Lee.
Here are the lyrics and a demo recording..
2/23/20: Week 17: "Trump" Wrestles Iran".
This week we take a break from music and work on dirty tricks.
"Trump" Wrestles Iran" is a video I messed with. I call it a "Shallow Fake", because it's so cheesy.
I've been thinking a lot about dirty tricks. I've been thinking about it as a Boston Driver tries to take advantage of any situation on the road. A Boston Driver will take a parking ticket off someone else's car and put it on his car so he doesn't have to pay for parking or get a ticket. Actually, I wrote a song recently at a song retreat that tries to catch the essence of Boston Drivers. Here's the demo recording You might recognize the melody as "My Girl"--that was the songwriting assignment.
Back to dirty tricks...
If you have contacts in swing states who are likely to vote democratic, remind them in October that they need to get out and vote and to encourage their like-minded friends to vote, too.
If you have contacts in swing states who are likely to vote republican, send them this important public service information in October:
"Due to the new national voter ID law, to avoid voter fraud you need to have a new REAL ID drivers license to vote in this election on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH. If you don't have a REAL ID, you need to get one at the DMV. To do that you need to go in person with an original copy of your birth certificate and an original copy of your Social Security card. You can get the birth certificate at Town Hall and you can get the Social Security card at the Social Security Office. Make sure you make an appointment in advance for the Social Security office because people without an appointment need to wait until everyone else with an appointment has been served. This can take three or four hours. Take your birth certificate and Social Security card, along with two proofs of residency, such as a utility bill, and wait your turn at the DMV office. You will need a money order for $75—remember, they don't take credit cards or checks. They will mail you the REAL ID in 2-4 weeks.
2/16/20: Week 16: "Flush Ten Times".
I heard some great Persist-Resist songs at Roslindale Open Mike this week by Terry Kitchen, Tom Smith, and Karen Sauer. This isn't one of them.
I played this one because I had to get it out of my system.
At recent rallies, including on the day he was impeached, at a rally in Michigan you know who was complaining about low-flow toilets and energy-efficient light bulbs. You would think he could find a better use for his time.
I had to respond with this song, "Flush Ten Times". (Here is Neal's phoned in introduction of our song.) It's, of course, a parody of the classic rock hit, "Knock Three Times". If you are of a certain age, you will remember it.
Here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
2/9/20: Week 15: "Salute to America".
"Salute to America" video.
Last July 4th, our Independence Day, you know who had his fake salute to America. Maybe you were there—if you had a VIP ticket.
I had to write this song to push back with what America means to me.
Here's my favorite line:
Judge us by our kindness;
And our willingness to share
At heart we're still great;
Compassionate and fair.
This was performed on 1/20/20 at Roslindale Open Mike (ROM) with fellow "Tritones", Karen Sauer and Chris Lee.
Here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
2/2/20: Week 14: "Trash This Planet".
I wrote "Trash This Planet" in 2003, but now 17 years later our planet is in even more jeopardy. At that time, George W. Bush was president. He didn't seem to care that much for the planet, but it was nothing like the current president. tRump is doing everything he can to eliminate environmental regulations and pretend that global climate change is a hoax.
Perhaps it's fitting that I'm posting this song on Ground Hog Day.
Hopefully everything that tRump does by executive order can be undone by the next president. We might even be able to get back into the Paris Climate Agreement. And isn't it impressive that some states and cities are continuing to work on carbon reductions.
We owe it to our children, grandchildren, and generations to come to make addressing global climate change our top priority.
Here are the lyrics and the CD recording.
1/26/20: Week 13: "Run Hide Fight" for Riley Howell.
Another important topic that is now getting totally ignored is gun violence. I'm sure it will rise to our notice then next time school kids, or others get show up senselessly. I wrote "Run Hide Fight" after Riley Howell was shot tacking the gunman at the UNC Charlotte shooting.
This was performed at Roslindale Open Mike--thank you Tritones Karen Sauer and Chris Lee.
Here's the video. Also, here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
1/19/20: Week 12: "Coal is Our Future". tRump ended the war on coal in 2018. Here's a quote from aboard Air Force One, on Sept. 7, 2018: "No administration has done what I've done. I just left Montana, and I looked at those trains and they're loaded up with clean coal — beautiful clean coal. And those trains were empty two years ago. They were empty; they were dying. Nobody's done what I've done." (from Factcheck.org)
So, I thought I should write a song celebrating beautiful, clean coal. You don't hear anything about the resurgence of the coal industry lately. Maybe that's because mines are closing and people are being off. Thanks, stable genius!
This song uses a traditional song that I heard decades ago as "Down in the Coal Mine", performed by the Ian Campbell Folk Group.
This was performed at Roslindale Open Mike; here's the video. Also, here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
1/12/20: My Week 11 contribution is "Change Can't Wait".
Hopefully 2020 will be a year of change. I wrote "Change Can't Wait" the day Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley won her primary election in 2018, defeating a long-time democratic congressman. She riffed on the phrase "Change Can't Wait" in her speech, though she didn't call it a victory speech. So, this song is a co-write with Congresswoman Pressley, since the refrain and the verses are largely her words. I gave her a copy of the Roslindale Open Mike performance and the lyrics at a speech she gave at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute soon after her election. We need her, the rest of the Squad, and the democratic congress people to make the changes we need in 2020.
This was performed at Roslindale Open Mike. Thank you Junko, Ken, Bo, and John for your support.
Here are the lyrics and a demo recording.
1/5/20: Welcome to 2020!
My Week 10 contribution is "Trump-Gazi". This is a rap I wrote just after the 2018 election when the Democratic Party took back the House of Representatives. I knew the table was going to be turned and there would be non-stop investigation of the Orange Menace. Right away I wrote "Trump-Gazi" inspired by how the Republicans hounded Hillary Clinton, including the endless Benghazi hearings.
Turns out, I was right. So, I'm putting "Trump-Gazi" as Week 10 because as soon as Congress gets back in session in 2020, the investigations will continue with the Removal Hearings in the Senate that follows last month's impeachment. Unless Nancy Pelosi decides to hold onto the impeachment articles and to keep investigating.
I performed the song at Roslindale Open Mike with my friends. Thanks to Junko, Karen, Ken, Chris, John and Bo.
There's also a demo recording and lyrics.
12/29/19: This week's contribution is "Planet Ocean". The video includes a few of my favorite pictures and video clips around Boston Harbor.
Though my eyes have been glued to the impeachment hearings, I need to give my brain a rest and pace the rage, so this week I offer a prayer to the ocean. I recently wrote "Planet Ocean" as a sound- picture. Our planet should be called planet ocean instead of planet earth, because it is mostly ocean and I think life on this planet started in the ocean and the ocean is key to our salvation.
We performed this on 12/9/19 at Roslindale Open Mike. Thank you, Karen, Chris, Ken, Bo, and John. And thank you to the audience for singing along.
Here is a demo recording and the lyrics.
12/22/19: Just in time for Christmas, it's a political holiday song! Here's"Must Be Donald".
So now it's time to celebrate Christmas and take a break from our day to day strife. Turns out I wrote an appropriate, light-hearted, though a little mean-spirited, Christmas Song that was performed as part of"Open Mike – The Musical", which had its debut and final performance in December 2017 at Roslindale Open Mike (ROM).
"Must Be Donald"is a parody of "Must Be Santa". Here's the video from"Open Mike – The Musical"with the lead sung by Karen Sauer. She also provided all the props. Thank you Sue, Ken, Bo, David, Karen, and Neal.
There was also a previous performance, led by me—here's the video. Thank you, Bo, Karen, Ken, and Neal. Finally, here's a demo recording and the lyrics.
12/15/19: "Space Force Anthem" is my contribution for Week 7. In addition to the video, here is a demo recording and the lyrics. I had to go with Space Force Anthem this week because funding for the Space Force is included in the Defense spending bill that is being approved this week. And these brave spacemen will need an appropriate anthem to blast them off into space. It might get lonely up there, but at least they will have this inspiring song to keep them company.
12/7/19: "Twenty-Fifth Amendment" is a new Schoolhouse Rock song). In addition to the video, here is a demo recording and the lyrics.
We will have a national election in November 2020. We will probably have an impeachment in a few weeks. But we could have a new President TODAY if the Vice President chooses to take that approach. I wrote this new Schoolhouse Rock song, "Twenty-Fifth Amendment", to explain how the process works. But I doubt if the lapdog Pence would dare to try it.
Since the impeachment is unlikely to result in a removal from office and a twenty-fifth amendment removal is also unlikely, we need to focus on doing everything we can to have a victory in the 2020 election. What are you doing to help take back our democracy?
"Twenty Fifth Amendment", a new Schoolhouse Rock song, was performed with Ken Porter at Roslindale Open Mike on 9/24/18. Thank you, Ken.
12/1/19: "FAKE!" Week 5 of Persist-Resist-2020 features "FAKE!". It hopefully speaks for itself. Here is FAKE! the video, a demo recording, and the lyrics.
I wrote this song right after the inauguration of you know who—remember the "American Carnage" phrase. One of the first things he did after being sworn in was to apply for reelection and to start having campaign rallies. That's what led to this song. I never suspected it could get so much worse than what I feared three years ago. I heard someone on MSNBC this week explain the tRump strategy: "Deny, Delay, Deflect". Maybe there's a song there. I also liked Eric Swalwell's characterization of Ukraine-gate: "Defense Dollars for Dirt". Lot's of "D"s, but I give tRump lots of "F"s.
What are you doing to help take back our democracy?
Thank you to Karen Sauer and Chris Lee for helping me pull off this performance of FAKE! at the Roslindale Open Mike at 11/25/19. Together we three are The Tritones!
My next performance is with the Tritones, featured at the Cantab Lounge open mike hosted by Geoff Bartley on 12/30/19. Details are on my Gigs page.
11/24/19: "Pocahontas"is a parody of the Neil Young song. I cringe every time I hear you know who refer to Senator Elizabeth Warren by this name.
Pocahontas is a parody of Neil Young's Pocahontas. I don't really understand his song, but my parody is from the perspective of the orange menace disparaging Senator Elizabeth Warren. While Senator Warren is my favorite for our next President, I'm afraid she is too liberal to sin the party's nomination. But she is exceedingly well-prepared and has learned how to appear in public.
I think my performance of this song at Roslindale Open Mike captures the Neil Young voice. I didn't realize how easily this would come to me. I guess I'm able to channel my inner Neil.
Here is a demo recording and the lyrics.
11/17/19: "Our Statue in the Harbor is Crying". Thank you to Karen Sauer and Chris Lee for helping with the performance at Roslindale Open Mike—together we are "The Tritones".
This week's contributions is one of the first songs I wrote after the 2016 election. It was originally called "Your Statue in the Harbor is Crying" and told the story of an Iraqi translator who served our military but wasn't allowed to immigrate here because of the Muslim Ban. I revisited it a few weeks ago and re-wrote it to be "Our Statue in the Harbor is Crying" to talk about the deplorable way we are treating refugee children at our Southern border and kicking out medical immigrants.
My father's family came here from Ireland, probably during the potato famine. My mother's family came here from France in the 1600s, via Quebec. Both Catholics with large families. We are all from somewhere else…yearning to breathe free.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Doesn't that poem on the Statue of Liberty take your breath away?
Here is a demo recording and the lyrics.
11/10/19: "Pacing the Rage" I'm a regular listener to Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on WGBH's Boston Public Radio (BPR) show. Most weeks they have on security consultant Juliette Kayyem as a guest. Perhaps you've seen her as an expert on CNN. In this era, Juliette started using the phrase "Pacing the Rage" as a way to keep from totally blowing up. So, I wrote a parody of Bruce Cockburn's song "Pacing the Cage". I performed it at Roslindale Open Mike (ROM), ably backed up by Charlie Ortolani and Ken Porter and pitched the recording to BPR, and they played a portion of it! Here's a recording of the BPR segment and the whole ROM performance. and the lyrics. Pacing the Rage has helped me cope with my PTSD—Perpetual Trump Stress Disorder. I hope it helps you, too.
11/3/19: "She Persisted": Here we go…Today I am kicking off the first week of "Persisting and Resisting 2020" as we approach the all-important 2020 election. My first weekly contribution is the song "She Persisted". I wrote "She Persisted" in early 2017. It was one of the first songs on the Persist theme. It was part of the crop of songs for the 2017 version of February Album Writing Month (www.fawm.org), but I didn't write any music for it at that time. So, a few days ago I wrote the music and here is the demo recording. This song had to do with Senator Elizabeth Warren getting shut down by Speaker Mitch McConnell when she was ready a letter by Mrs. Coretta Scott King and the Speaker invoked little used "Rule 19". Here's the chorus:
Though men told her to stop
Against the odds she didn't quit
'Til she came out on top
So, I'm going to tell my daughter
To work hard and resist
If you want to get things done
You damn-well better persist
...and a link to the back story... https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/08/the-history-of-the-senates-rule-19-suggests-it-is-very-loosely-enforced/
10/12/19: I’m kicking off a final, full year of persisting and resisting, one year before the election. Each week I plan to post a song and/or an essay. It will also include some dirty tricks.