Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plenty to drink

It had been a while since I wrote a drinking song.  So our new Governor decided it was time I write another one.  

Plenty to drink
copyright 2011 Dan Sullivan

Guv'nor Snyder of Michigan
Says we have to raise taxes on the citizens
'Cause he needs $1.5 billion
To give to his Chamber of Commerce friends

There's plenty to drink for everyone
And there'll be more where this came from
He's talking about shared sacrifice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice

Ol' Rick Snyder's got a clever plan
If anyone can make a dollar he can
He sold Gateway to a China man
Now he's pickin' my pocket in Michigan

There's plenty to drink for everyone
And there'll be more where this came from
He's talking about shared sacrifice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice

Teachers pay cut, the poor get sliced
Seniors get taxed on their pensions twice
Middle class getting squeezed in a vice
And here's the Governor's advice

There's plenty to drink for everyone
And there'll be more where this came from
He's talking about shared sacrifice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice
The rich get whiskey and we get ice

Yeah he's talkin' about shared sacrifice

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ed Schultz reporting from the front lines in Wisconsin

Click here to watch the latest video feed from the Wisconsin war zone where MSNBC's Ed Schultz has been reporting from the front lines all week.   Schultz' dispatches from the front are giving the American people the most accurate account of the Republican/Tea Party war against  unions and the middle class and the courageous resistance of the people of Wisconsin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Turning off the PC


Killing time before a attending a songwriter's show tonght at 8, I came up with this Shel Silversteinian lyric.  

I’ve got no friends on Facebook
And I’m feelin’ blue about it.
‘Cause when there’s news to share
I’ve got no place to shout it
I’d hang my head in shame
If I hadn’t already bowed it
I’ve got no friends on Facebook
And I’m feelin’ blue about it

I’ve got no friends on MySpace
And I’m feeling really low
I send out friend requests
But the answer’s always no
Ya know, no friends on MySpace
Is about as low as you can go
I’ve got no friends on MySpace
And I’m feelin’ really low

I’ve got no friends on Twitter
And what’s THAT all about
I got no tweets comin’ in
And no tweets goin’ out
I feel just like a paper boy
With no-one on his route
I’ve got no friends on Twitter
And what’s that all about
 
I guess I’ll turn the PC off
Why do I need friends?
All they’ll do is hurt
My feelin’s in the end
Ya know it's happened before
N' it'll happen again
I guess I’ll turn the PC off
Why do I need friends?
 
Yep, I’m turning off the PC
Now what am I to do?
I think I’ll take a walk
It’s a lovely afternoon
Or maybe read a book
Or learn to play the spoons
Yep, I'm turning off the PC
Now what am I to do?
 
 
 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's not dark yet (but it's getting there)

There can be a beauty to sadness.    And this has got to be one of the most beautiful  and sorrowful songs I've ever  heard.   This is the song of one lost, hopeless soul. 

In Dante's Inferno, there's a sign outside the gates of Hell saying "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."      That's what this song reminds me of.

You just don't want to listen to this song when you're having a bad day.

Shadows are fallin' and I've been here all day
It's too hot to sleep and time is runnin' away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin' what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

Well, I've been to London and I been to gay Paree
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of the world full of lies
I ain't lookin' for nothin' in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm movin' but I'm standin' still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear the murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet but it's gettin' there.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Democracy? We'll see




The media and American public have hailed the revolution in Egypt as a triumph of democracy, a victory of good over evil.    I'm not so sure.

If you believe the bloggers and commentators, this was a revolution made on the streets of Cairo, an inspired insurrection of the plain folks using weapons like  Facebook, Twitter and Google against the might of the government.

And the good guys won.   Democracy has come to Egypt.   And soon it shall spread throughout the Middle East.  Who knows?   Maybe even to China.   Power to the people.

Forgive me for being skeptical.

Mubarak was a thug and a grifter, a corrupt dictator who looted the country.   But he was our thug for 30 years.   The United States government supported him, providing weapons and financial aid because he provided a measure of stability in the Middle East and was one of the few nations in that volatile region that was at peace with Israel, one of our allies.

Now that he's gone, I'd be surprised if Egypt turns into anything resembling a democracy.  The military is running the show now.   There are powerful religious, military, financial and secular forces working behind the scene to grab the levers of  power in Cairo.   Anyone who thinks the interests of the Egyptian man in the street will prevail in the days, months and years ahead is living in a dream world.

I have no idea where it will all end.   I don't think anyone else can say, either.   One thing I am pretty sure of is that "democracy" - however you define it - is no answer to all the woes of the Egyptian people.   The haves aren't giving it up to the have-nots that easily.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who's this Jackie Greene fellow??


So I posted "Walking to Jerusalem" on this website called "No Depression." One of the other videos posted there was of a kid from San Francisco called Jackie Greene. I'd never heard of the guy.  But "Brokedown Emotion" sounded like an interesting title, so I hit the play button.   You never know when you'll hear something you like.

Right from the first note I knew I wasn't listening to some teenager in his bedroom making a YouTube video.    This kid was good!

Actually, he's not a kid.   He turns 30 this year.    And he's been putting out CDs since 2002.   But he writes and sings like he's been scribbling songs and  singing since the '60s.  

He's obviously been influenced by Bob Dylan.  When he's in his folkie mode strumming a flat top guitar  with a harmonica holder hanging from his neck he even looks like a young Dylan.   And if he can't match Dylan's lyrical depth (who can?), he shows a gift for story-telling and a way with words you don't often see anymore.    And he definitely sings better than Bob.  

So without further ado, as Ed Sullivan used to say when introducing an act, here's Jackie Greene.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Walking the streets of Jerusalem



Walking the streets of Jerusalem
copyright 2011 Dan Sullivan




It was cold that night
There was somethin' in the air
Somethin' wasn't right
So I said a little prayer
While I was walking the streets of Jerusalem


Two women in Burqas  
Being questioned by the cops
There's a man standing watch
In the doorway of a mosque
And I'm walking the streets of Jerusalem


The man in the doorway
Well he needed a bath
So I handed him a cigarette 
And he lit it with a match
I just kept walking the streets of Jerusalem


An Imam's being interviewed
By  Al Jazeera
In a hotel across the street
Narcissus smiles into a mirror
While I'm walking the streets of Jerusalem


She puts on her best dress
And she  walks outside
To join some kind of  flash mob 
That's  being  televised 
As I'm walking the streets of Jerusalem


So I'm walking down the street 
Knowing something isn't right 
Could almost put  my finger on it
Almost but not quite
And I'm walking  the streets of Jerusalem


From across the street a man
Comes walking up to me 
He says,  "Do you know who I am?"
I say, "You're the Man of Mystery"
And we're walking  the streets of Jerusalem


"You're a clever man yourself," he says
"Soon all will be revealed
But 'til then you must keep quiet" 
I say, "man, my lips are sealed
I'm just walking  the streets of Jerusalem"


"The sky is full of lies," he says
"The world's full of deception
It's too late to negotiate
It's too late for concessions
Just keep walking  the streets of Jerusalem"


"I know very well that things 
Aren't always what they seem
But your words are so confusing"
I say, "tell me what you mean"


He says, "there's  lies on every tongue
Fallin' from every mouth
Hang around here long enough
And you'll figure it out
While you're walking  the streets of Jerusalem"


Then with one bony finger
He points towards the Temple
'N says, "It's all been written down
None of it's accidental"
And we're walking  the streets of Jerusalem


"The hour's late.  I have to go
But I'll see you around
I've got a little business
In a garden  outside  town"
And we're walking  the streets of Jerusalem


"Keep  all of this  a secret
Don't put it on your blog
Don't speak of it in church
Or at the synagogue
Just keep walking  the streets of Jerusalem"


It was cold that night
There was something in the air
Something wasn't right
So I said a little prayer


While I was walking the streets of Jerusalem


Friday, February 4, 2011

Union Man


This is a union song. It's from a time in American history when working people rallied behind the union banner in factories and workshops in places like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Kalamazoo, Youngstown and all the small mill and mining towns of the Northeast and Midwest. Hard-scrabble places where things were made and the workers understood they could only get a fair shake from the boss if they stood with their union.


People don't sing songs like this anymore. Unions are now lumped with Muslims, Communists and Liberals in the popular imagination. But once  troubadours like Woody Guthrie,  Pete Seeger,  Ramblin' Jack Elliott and other long forgotten folk singers gave voice to the union movement and sang the praises of the American worker.  It seems like a long, long time ago.


The Musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have been  on strike since last October.  The strike is what strikes are always about:  wages and working conditions.   The bosses want to add work and subtract wages. The musicians don't think that's fair.   Check out their website if you're interested in learning more about their union and supporting their cause.


video


Union Man
copyright Dan Sullivan 1990


I'm a postal clerk in Memphis
I'm a teacher in L.A.
I play guitar on the records
That the radio stations play
I'm a truck driver in Dallas
I'm a store clerk in San Fran
I'm a waitress in El Paso
And I am a Union Man

And when we stand together
We never stand so tall
An injury to one of us
Is an injury to all
I wear the union label
And I'm proud of who I am
I've never crossed a picket line
I am a Union Man

I forge the steel in Pittsburgh
I'm a nurse in Tennessee
I make the cars in Michigan
And work the docks in New Orleans
I'm a plumber in Chicago
I build houses in St. Paul
I'm the woman at the hospital
Who takes the emergency calls

And when we stand together
We never stand so tall
An injury to one of us
Is an injury to all
I wear the union label
And I'm proud of who I am
I've never crossed a picket line
I am a Union Man

I've never crossed a picket line
I ain't no company man
I am a Union Man

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What storm of the Century?

You wouldn't have guessed it was the "Storm of the Century" if they hadn't told us that's what was coming.   As is usually the case,  the storms of life look worse before they arrive than after they pass.  


P.T.  Barnum was right.   You don't sell tickets by calling it a pretty good circus.   You call it "The Greatest Show on Earth" and you have to turn them away at the door.


We got about a foot of snow in Southwest Michigan, half of what many weathermen and forecasters were predicting.    We get a storm like this every 3-4 years and nobody thinks much of it.


It took me about an hour to shovel out the driveway.   That's how I judge a storm.    If it had been a real "Monster Storm" as some predicted, I would have been out there for 2-3 hours shoveling.


I would have probably even  needed to call  a taxi to bring Hannah and her shovel here.









Ashley Classen of Kalamazoo clears her walkway in the Stuart neighborhood on Wednesday morning after the snowstorm.