Tuesday, December 30, 2014

God made the earth… Shiny as a marble

My latest song, Big Blue Marble.  Free here, on Spotify and on all the usual streaming sites.
Jesse Korman on instruments, recorded at his Elephonic Studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I had a hundred dollars in my wallet, had a six-shooter 25 in my pocket...

Fear the Man is a juanty American Murder Ballad. The happy-go-lucky man in the song has a serious message, however, in the last verse:
Why in the world would you run a man down
With disdain and contempt, acting like he's a clown?
You think you're dominating while you mire them in the muck.
You're creating a man who don't give a fuck.

Sounds like American foreign policy to me.
From the album Contrary.  Listen to this movie-in-your-head on Spotify. Download from your favorite source.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

God Bless Bristol Bay and Barack Obama.

From the early 1970s until the mid-70s I worked three times for All Alaskan Seafoods company Each time I flew from Seattle to the location of the MV All Alaskan. Once I landed in Naknek/Dillingham, Alaska. My God, the number of salmon boats awaiting the opening gun of the season!
The mines that could destroy this paradise made by God are the work of the devil called unrestrained capitalism. Thank you so much Mr. President.

addemdum, 12/17:
Opps. Bristol Bay has been spared, hopefully forever, by President Obama's memorandum to ban oil and gas drilling  there, but Bristol Bay also faces extreme environmental degradation from the proposed Pebble Mine. This would be an open pit copper mine which would require extreme measures to extract the low-grade copper and gold. Google around. It seems that the outcome of Bristol Bay's environment is still in the hands of Congress. We all know what that means.
The outfit that has already spent hundreds of millions to fight for mining approval overruling the Environmental Protection Agency is a Canadian concern. So we have the destruction of Bristol Bay to add to the Keystone Pipeline project and in both cases our Congress is siding with big Canadian money.
Why is it that the news reports do not include this information? Everything I read implies that Obama has saved Bristol Bay. Just one more example of corporate "journalism." 

Jeb Bush and Rand Paul Will Run Together - Burl's Braggin' Rights

Below is a blog from Nov. 28, 2013 which quotes my blog from July 15, 2012.

  Here is the latest article I've seen about Jeb Bush taking a Radical Right     viewpoint. And below is a short blog from July 15, 2012. I think I was         just too early in my prediction.

   I first thought this in late '09 when I read that Jeb Bush had attended a     Rand Paul fundraiser. Everywhere I've posted it someone says,  "No           way." Well, way.  This criticism of Romney from fellow Republicans is         unprecedented. Republicans don't do that; they hold coronations. I still     think that Romney is a dark-horse, willing or unwilling, for the next King   Bush. I think he (Bush) will incorporate just enough of the Ron Paul           libertarianism for Rand Paul to accept the VP slot and to gather votes 
  that Romney just can't get. If I'm wrong, I'm only wrong, but if I'm right 
  I claim 2 (now 4) years of braggin' rights!

I get at least five years of braggin' rights now.
What can Rand Paul do for the Bush/Saudi branch of US politics? Here are my thoughts; notice that each issue is a beautiful usurpation of what could have been Democratic issues.

They can vow to reduce military spending.
They can vow to reduce CIA/et al wholesale spying on American citizens.
They can vow to reduce dependence on drone strikes.
They can vow to end torture.
They can vow to reduce the prison population of the US.
They can vow to take marijuana off the federal list of illegal drugs, entirely leaving the regulation of pot to the states.

These items simply pop into my mind and I am too distracted by Klezmer music on Pandora right now to come up with more.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hobo Lady by Keith Sykes

Keith Sykes. If you aren't familiar with the name, google it. He has toured with Jimmy Buffet, written songs with John Prine, and much more. Around 1967/'68 I saw him perform at a coffee house on the campus of West Texas State in Canyon, Texas. He was going on the coffee house circuit. He was open to socialization. For all the little Christian girls who heard him at the same time and could have spent the night in his bed, I have this to say: Thank you for your shyness; because you didn't get to fuck him, he wrote a song instead.
Keith invited me to visit him the next day at the Buffalo Courts (Canyon, Texas). I did and he told me he had written a new song. He said he had received a call from management during the night complaining of the noise, but he had finished the song nonetheless. As I recall, all rooms at the Buffalo Courts were individual structures and built of stone, so the complainer was a pretty sensitive person.
I picked it up pretty fast because it was in open D tuning (DADF#AD) and I was a John Fahey open tuning kind of guy. I didn't write anything down. I learned the words; I learned the guitar part, and it stuck.
In '69 I accidentally ended up in Nashville. While there, I walked down Music Row and, at a small publisher's advice, ended up at a studio called "Queen of Sound."  I paid $5.00 for three tries at recording a song, and I recorded Hobo Lady. I absolutely told everyone at every step of the way that it was a Keith Sykes song. I recorded it because I had NOTHIN', I mean nothing I had written, that would have opened a door for me.
But doors opened. I just didn't walk through. That's another story or two.
Over the years, I have sung this song any time I wanted to knock someone's socks off. I've played it while blitzed on acid, drunk as a skunk, and on a mental ward in Flagstaff, Arizona. It just doesn't fail to rock the room. Anywhere. Anytime.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Confession, an innocent man vows revenge.

Contrary was the first album I paid money to release (CD Baby). My wife was not happy because I had gone down to Austin, Texas to record sweet songs that she had heard me write. But, in the aftermath of an inspiring first recording session I went back the second year and wrote Contrary on the beach of Padre Island. Then I chose to release Contrary as my first release. Sorry, honey. You helped me pay for those trips and I let you down.
I did not let me down, though. I have been a political being, I would say, since 1963. I was 13. JFK was assassinated. MLK. RFK. Viet Nam. 'Nuff said.
Was it not the great Englishman, William Blackstone, who said that the greatest argument against capital punishment was that a mistake would surely result in the execution of an innocent (wo)man?
Was it not Jesus who said that, "Whatever ye do unto the least of these, ye have done unto me?"
Whoever said those two statements, I agree with you.
If you disagree with Blackstone and/or Jesus that is your right as a human being.
I disagree with you and I say, "FUCK YOU." Yeah, in the ass, like a common prisoner.
Sue me, Asshole.
You are about to click on a video I once deleted from Youtube because I appeared with a fake gun in my hand. I held, at that deleting moment, a view that guns were evil. Yes. But...
the execution of human beings is evil, far more evil, so...
As an American I say go ahead...Please participate in prosecuting Bush, Cheney, Take it to the World Court. Call on Obama as a witness.
My fellow Americans - Stop thinking that we stand above reproach. God did not create the USA.
DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE OTHERS DO UNTO YOU. Or suffer and die in CIA-approved "Black" Prisons, Motherfuckers.
That is the spirit of CONFESSION.
And then...
The man is released from his unjust imprisonment. What is he to do? Revenge proves impossible. Reconciliation with his mother, likewise. He goes wild. He seeks true love. He withdraws from the world. He makes a home. Underground.
Are we at a point where continued existence of the human race is a possibility? Is it possible that in a post-apocalyptic world survival is an option?

Joe Hill's "Power in a Union"

As I mentioned in my first blog/album note about my latest album, singing Power in the Blood (at Trinity Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas) was thrilling. Some hymns soothe, others exalt, this one ROCKS!
Get the latest edition of the Little Red Songbook or the others still out there as reprints and you'll see the changes I chose to make to Joe Hill's words. My changes are in the public domain. The edition I used most was the 1923 version.
Please scroll down for all the blogs about my new album When Hymns Bled Red: Words of Joe Hill in Red. And please check them out on Spotify or your favorite source of streaming music. Gosh, you might even buy a song from iTunes. I've got five albums out.
God help me, I couldn't get this song sung without sounding like an old, congested man. (See my blogs on Colorado marijuana) -)

There Is Power In the Blood

A                                            D              A
Would your be free from your burden of sin?
           E                            A
There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood.
                            D         A
Would you o’er evil a victory win?
           E                               A
There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.
                            D                      A
There’s pow’r, pow’r wonder working pow’r
           E                 A
In the blood of the Lamb
                             D                         A                 E7                               A
Ther is pow’r, pow’r, wonder working pow’r in the precious blood of the lamb.

 There Is Power In a Union
By Joe Hill     

Would you have freedom from wage slavery,
Then join in the grand industrial band;
Would you from mise’y and hunger be free?
Then come! Do your share, like a man.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of workingmen,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
And raise your kids in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly
And starve here with rags on your back?

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working women,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

If you believe corporations and all they’ve said
Then don’t organize, all unions despise,
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with the boss and look wise.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working humans,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

Come, all ye workers, from every land,
Come join in the grand Industrial band,
Then we our share of this earth shall demand,
Come on! Do your share, like a human.

There is pow’r,  pow’r
In a band of working humans,
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a power, that’s a power that must rule in every land –
One Industrial Union Grand.

The Wobbly Doxology

If you grew up singing, "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow..." like I did, you may enjoy this little nugget from Australia. As in other songs I got from the Little Red Songbook I made my changes according to our beloved folk process, but I sure as hell did not change the emotion!
If you can, get a copy of the reissue of the 1923 songbook in addition to the latest one.

Joe Hill's Last Will

I first heard Joe Hill's Last Will sung in a pub in Dublin. That musician (can't remember his name, sorry) sang it to some melody of his own, I think. I put the words to the tune of Sweet Hour of Prayer. Unlike the songs whose words I tinkered with, there is no excuse to tinker with a last will and testament. Ain't it funny how Christian in nature this "dangerous communist's" last will is?
This is my 4th installment of album notes for my new album. The others precede this blog and more will follow.

Sweet Hour of Prayer 
Sweet hour of prayer, Sweet hour of prayer      
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known

In Seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return sweet hour of prayer

Joe Hill’s Last Will (Nov. 18, 1915, Salt Lake City)
My will is easy to decide,
For there is nothing to divide,
My kin don’t need to fuss and moan –
“Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.”
My body? Ah, if I could choose,
I would to ashes it reduce,
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.
Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final will,
Good luck to all of you,

- Joe Hill

Dump the Bosses Off Your Back

Dump the One Percent. Let's start there, shall we? Once again, I changed a few words. Changes can be detected by buying and reading a Little Red Songbook. My changes are Public Domain, intended to stay that way. The original song What a Friend We Have in Jesus was adapted by John Brill.
The simple truth is that the poor, forlorn, and hungry did have a great friend in Jesus, but most of today's "Christians" are not followers of Jesus. They are not "a thousand points of light." 
Neither is the United States an anti-Communist country. Why? Because Nixon went to China. 
So don't be afraid to sing the Wobbly songs even if you aren't a "Red." Do you want your children to have healthcare? Do you think if you work hard at the best job you can find that you should be able to support your family in a decent life? Then sing for economic justice my friends. That's not communism and don't let the 1% fool you that it is. 

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

What a friend we have in Jesus                                   
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Dump the Bosses Off Your Back
By John Brill 
Are you poor, forlorn, and hungry?
Are there lots of things you lack?
Is your life made up of misery?
Then dump the one percent off your back.

Are your clothes all patched and tattered?
Are you living in a shack?
Would you have your troubles scattered?
Then dump the one percent off your back.

Are you almost split asunder?
Loaded like a long-eared jack?
Mule!  why don’t you buck like thunder?
And dump the one-percent off your back.

All the agonies you suffer,
You can end with one good tax..
Buck up! You orn’ry voters,

And dump the one percent off your back.

Joe Hill's 'Preacher and the Slave'

Wobbly Joe Hill picked some mighty fine melodies for his parodies.  Sweet By and By, melody by Joseph P. Webster, is pure beauty. It is Mr. Webster's music moreso than S. Fillmore Benett's lyrics that cause me to not 'go off' and sing this song with contempt. I have heard Wobbly songs sung by folks who I think get more delight out of poking fun at the "Christians" than emotion invested in the Wobbly message. I leave out the "That's a lie" line (see the Little Red Songbook) and made some other changes, all intended for the Public Domain.

Sweet By and By
                 G                        C                 G
There’s a land that is fairer than day
And by faith we can see it afar
             G                      C            G
For the Father waits over the way
                           C  G/D D      G
To prepare us a dwelling place there
In the sweet by and by
                D7                                        G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore
                     G7/B   C
In the sweet by and by
                G/D              D7          G
We shall meet on that beautiful shore

The Preacher and the Slave 
By Joe Hill
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
What's wrong?  You need is a job and something to eat
They answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

You can work hard for children and wife –
No guarantee you’ll make it in US life–
You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight:
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we’ll sing this refrain:

Last Chorus:
You can eat bye and bye,
When you’ve learned how to cook and to fry;
Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good,

And you can eat in the sweet bye and bye.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

We're all bums now

Here is the first of my CD Baby album notes for my CD When Hymns Bled Red: Words of Joe Hill in Red.

How many of us wondered 'Who is Joe Hill?' when we first heard Joan Baez sing "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night?" The great Swedish immigrant was only one of many songwriters who took melodies from popular hymns and other songs of the day and turned them into anthems for worker's rights and economic justice. Joe Hill, the martyr I read about first, but when I encountered Joe Hill the songwriter he came to life in my mind.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a singing union. The story goes that early members of the IWW, the Wobblies, sang their own lyrics when the street Salvation Army bands were playing their hymns. Now both the popular folk songs and the hymns are now fading from our culture, so what will become of the great International Workers of the World (Wobbly) songs? Looking online I see IWW union activities are ongoing worldwide. Are they singing? Surely.
I’d like to see the songs evolve so they can stand alongside new songs and new Wobbly parodies. About as much of a folklorist as I am anymore boils down to this:
I believe that knowing the original song helps appreciate the parody. On Top of Old Smoky deserves to live out it’s truth independently of On Top of Spaghetti, not just as “the source melody of …” I believe authorship and copyrights are to be honored but that, in the Public Domain, Mr/Ms Anonymous can tear it up!
I begin each song with the first verse of the original hymn. If you detect from my singing that I love the old hymns, you are right. I grew up singing them in the Southern Baptist Church. "Power in the Blood" is one old hymn that is, in my mind, a rock song! It is fun to sing. All these songs have gone into the public domain and any changes I have added are not copyrighted. If my performances of these songs ever make money, I'll happily donate it to the still-active IWW. My most hoped for reward?  To see the lyrics in the Little Red Songbook attributed to Anonymous, USA, heralded only by my own horn, just duly blown. (elephant trumpeting sfx)
This is my second album recorded at Elephonic Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Jesse Korman, engineer and Jared Putnam on that fine upright bass. It's my sixth album since turning 60 in 2010.
I rarely perform; that's a long story, but if these songs make it to any union who wants to pay my expenses I'll bust my ass (one weeks notice at the least) to get your membership singing along with these American classics from an age when workers fought like hell for the rights workers enjoyed in the 20th century before Ronald Reagan divided and conquered.
My introduction to the IWW and Wobblies songs was through the albums of Pete Seeger. I came late to the knowledge that the IWW is still going strong. I finally got some Little RedSongbooks and started out on songs based upon my favorite old hymns. 
I have no use for the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s affiliated churches; my last tie to them would be the hymns. It was through these hymns and my early Christian faith that I connected with the Civil Rights Movement and came to love and honor Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. It was through his later speeches that I came to understand what the battle between rich and poor was all about and the relationship between war and capitalism. So, let's keep the hymns and let them live out their own truth.
I left out some verses and added whole verses or words to these songs. I will not go into the kind of documentation that is readily available in the Little Red Songbook (Check out used book sources for reprints of older editions) and the Big Red Songbook. Here is the way I sing:

Revive Us Again
(Revive Us Again, William P. Mackay)

Hallelujah, I’m a Bum
Harry “Haywire Mac” McClintock

We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of thy love         
For Jesus, who died and is now gone above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory! Hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the Glory! Revive us again.

Why don’t you work like other men do?
How the hell can I work, ain’t no jobs to do.

Hallelujah, I’m a bum, Hallelujah, bum again;
Hallelujah, give us a handout to revive us again!

Oh why don’t you save all the money you earn?
If I didn’t eat I’d have money to burn.

Whenever I get all the money I’ve earned,
The boss will be broke and to work he must turn.

Oh I like my bosses, tell ‘ya how nice they are,
They drive me to the food bank ‘cause I can’t afford a car.

Why don’t you use that degree you earned?
They don’t want to pay - they hired an intern.

"Burl Dunn" on Spotify and Pandora