“The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” by Marianne Faithfull (1979)

8 01 2017

This amazing song was written by Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends). It’s a lament about the sad plight of a housewife trapped in a life that wasn’t enough for her.

Until recently, there weren’t many options for women. Getting married and raising a family was one of the main options. But think about all that wasted potential talent! We could have had six different cures for cancer and world peace by now, if we didn’t insist for so long that women should be “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” (yes, I’ve heard that many times).

Marianne Faithfull nails it with her husky, world-weary voice and plaintive delivery.

Things have really changed now, and women can pursue just about any job as a man.

But there is a holdover from the patriarchal, sexist past: there is still a ton of pressure on women to marry and produce children. There’s also a lingering perception that a woman is somehow not complete without experiencing motherhood.

Bullshit. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you have to use it. Here’s a list of some women who didn’t have kids:

Jane Austen
Charlotte Bronte
Julia Child
Emily Dickinson
Harper Lee
Amelia Earhart
Georgia O’Keefe
Dorothy Parker

And on and on….

If you truly want to have children, that’s terrific. Many people do. But I’m telling you this because few others would. Your grandmother would tell you. You are the captain of your body in this area, too.

There is enormous pressure on us to do what we’ve been raised/conditioned by society to do. Often we’re not even aware of it, we just flow with it, like caught in a river current. Always check to see if your bearings aren’t effected by the current.

I just remembered that your middle name means “flow of the river.” We’ll have to find the Hindi word for “against” as a prefix to fix that.





“When the Rainbow Comes” by World Party (1990)

4 01 2017

This is the second World Party song I’ve posted, the other is “Ship of Fools,” so I won’t rehash my love for Karl Wallinger’s music.

This is another medicinal song. A sober song about hope. Or the struggle to find it. This song was released in a time I needed hope, so I know this song well.

It starts with an ideal:

“Build a new house down by the sea
Get to the place we were meant to be
You’ll know it when you smile.”

Of course most of us can’t do that. So if you can’t live by the sea, then what?

“Slippin’ and slidin’ around in your head
It’s be-bop-a-lula and baby you’re dead
So come on, make a bright new day.”

It’s never that easy, but just singing it out loud makes it seem just slightly more possible to make that bright new day.

“I need a prayer here
I need a blessing
Cast your eye back as you run
Turn around, boy!
See the rainbow come!”

I do believe there is something to the “power of positive thinking.” It’s just not that easy for some folks.

What’s easier is the power of positive singing. If things seem a tad dark, crank it up, belt it out. It might help.





“One Day” by Matisyahu (2009)

14 11 2016

My last post about the election was pretty apocalyptic. Apologies. Must be the funk I’m in.

That doesn’t discount the battle ahead, though. We will have to fight to keep what we have.

I’ve worked with a lot of tough people. Organizers, activists, musicians, writers. We have a lot going for us.

Hope is both required and justified.

This is a great song about hope. For us all. We need more anthems like this.

“All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
One day”





“Life During Wartime” by Talking Heads (1979)

14 11 2016

These “United States” of America have just elected Donald Trump.

I am so, so sorry, sweetheart. Rational people did their best to stop him. But he said what people wanted to hear, and he stoked division and fear.

He has no respect for women, or minorities, or the press, or the courts, or our taxation system, or anything but his own interests as far as anyone can tell.

And with both houses of Congress plus his own conservative appointment to the Supreme Court, this nation is doomed. And we’ll take the rest of the world down with us.

So, we fight. What else can we do?

Here’s one lesson: Young people HAVE to get to the polls and vote. I know you’re too young to vote now, but when you can vote, please do. And talk about it with your friends, encourage them to vote, too.

If young voters–who overwhelmingly favored Democrats–turned out for the election, we wouldn’t have Donald Trump as president. We wouldn’t have had George W. Bush, either. And Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton, would probably have been the Democratic nominee, easily beating Trump. There were other factors, of course, but one thing you can do is vote and get involved. Or you end up with our own Il Duce.

This song came out when I was about your age. I remember listening to its ominous words about changing hairstyles “so many times now, I don’t know what I look like.” It’s about fighting in the resistance. Perhaps it was foreshadowing.

And you can dance to it!

“Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there”





“California” by Delta Spirit (2012)

30 10 2016

This is such a fantastic song. And Delta Spirit is one helluva good band.

Boy loses girl, boy’s heart is broken. But boy wishes girl happiness, even though he hurts like hell. Because he likes her, and he wants the best for her:

“All of the feelings that I know you’ve never felt
And all of the simple words you never said
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself
They’re not for me”

That’s righteous. Evolved.

Unnnnfortunately, it’s also pretty rare. Especially among boys.

We boys are never really taught how to deal with our emotions. In fact, the opposite: “Walk it off,” “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” So without being able to deal with hurt, or rejection, we turn to our ready-to-fire default emotion, anger.

You will encounter this, if you haven’t already:

BOY: Do you want to dance/a drink/to go steady?

GIRL: No, but thank you very much

BOY: Stuck up B*TCH! I wouldn’t dance/drink/go steady with a slut like you anyway!

It’s just a shitty encounter all the way around. That you didn’t ask for. And there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it. No matter how nice and gracious you are (which, by the way, you shouldn’t even have to be), it’ll happen.

Well, it’s never on you. It’s “us.” Do the best you can to shake off any hate that comes as a result of our deficiencies.

Maybe songs like this can plant the seeds in some hearts and minds.





“Torn” by Ednaswap (1995)

17 07 2015

This is such a fantastic song. Most of the world knows it well from Natalie Imbruglia’s cover version, a huge, international hit in 1998, and that’s when I first heard the song.

Imbruglia’s version is great, emphasizing the melody, with a jaunty beat that makes your feet tap while you sing sweetly along:

“Nothing’s fine I’m torn
I’m all out of faith, this is how I feel
I’m cold and I’m ashamed lying naked on the floor”


Wait, what? What’s this song about? Who the hell wrote this?

“Illusion never changed into something real
I’m wide awake and I can see the perfect sky is torn
You’re a little late, I’m already torn.”


Turns out a band from LA called Ednaswap wrote the song, led by the fierce Anne Preven (who co-wrote the song, including the dagger-like lyrics). Ednaswap was a tight, terrific band that should’ve been heard by more people.

The Ednaswap version is very different from Imbruglia’s cover. Not a bouncy, wistful track, but a bluesy slow-burn dripping with resignation and barely-contained disgust (at the betrayal? At herself?).

THIS is the version I play when misery needs company. It’s great for your music toolbox, when you feel hurt or (especially) betrayed. I’d like to say that will never happen to you, but just in case, here’s “Torn”:

And just for reference, here’s Imbruglia’s cover. Still a great song, just done very differently:





“This Time I Won’t Forget” by KONGOS (2014)

25 04 2015

KONGOS is a band from South Africa, all brothers with the last name “Kongos.” Their dad was a famous musician back in the day, and judging by how tight and driving their music is, I’m guessing they spent a lot of time playing music together as they grew up.

You’ve probably heard their big hit, “Come With Me Now,” with its manic, infectious groove, but their album has many sonic dimensions, often incorporating elements of traditional music from southern Africa.

I think “This Time I Won’t Forget” is my favorite on the album. It’s a haunting aria about loss. Something everyone can relate to:

“Oh, I will try
But I tell you it ain’t easy using only words
And so I’ll begin
But I’ll start at the end, the day I said so long my friend”

But it’s not just a sad song about lost loved ones. It’s also an affirmation of life:

“Cause now I’m alive
I’m taking my first breath
Oh I’m alive
And this time I won’t forget”

Sad, beautiful, and uplifting. These are the songs that last, and I think this song will and should seep into many souls.