A few words about each tune...
This song was composed in 1983 and first performed by The Self-Righteous brothers (myself and David Briggs) at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City CA for a fund-raising event for the founding of the South Yuba River Citizen’s League. It was also used in Greg Schiffner’s documentary, Stories of the Yuba.
Written sometime in the 1990s in response to how they are.
Written in 2003 and performed at the Nevada Theatre fundraiser by the Strum Bums and local musicians to send the Bums to the New York Ukulele Festival.
Written in 2014 after hearing young people discussing the ethics of bringing babies into a world they felt was coming to a catastrophic end.
Written in 2015 for the hell of it.
A rewriting of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies with a modern take on the military’s clandestine chemical warfare on the world’s people. My friend Pat Sauer contributed a few wonderful lines to this one.
Written in 1993 when KVMR Community Radio music director John Nichols passed. His death was the sixth in a series of volunteer broadcasters who died young. I wrote and memorized this song and hurried to John’s memorial in Pioneer Park in Nevada City but got there too late to sing it. The people in the song are still important to me, as they were to the Nevada City community.
An older song complaining of the tendency of corporations to own everything, even the rain. This one was in my repertoire on a single payer health care tour with Anne Feeney and others.
In the ‘90s, before the Internet took off, there were newsgroups and a college student in New Hampshire started one that was ukulele-centric. An ardent discussion about whether it was okay to use a strap with a uke ensued and got rather nasty. A person living in Texas at the time, R. Bruce, posted a poem he wrote. I asked him if I could put it to music. He said “knock yourself out!” This song is the result. I added a few revisions; it may be the first song composed entirely on the Internet.
I wrote the first version of this tune when George H. W. Bush, one of the orchestrators of the Bay of Pigs and assassination of JFK, was president. The original first line went “There’s a CIA, drug running, oil baron banker in the White House…” Later, when Bill Clinton was the figurehead, I changed it to “There’s a non-inhalin’, cult-killin’, World Bank shill in the White House…” Bush’s goofy son got his own line, too, but I’ve suppressed it. The idea doesn't change, only the names. Utah Phillips recited a version of this tune at his gigs for a while during the George H. W. Bush regime.
A song for my sweetie.
Originally composed spontaneously on Market Street in San Francisco in front of the Federal Reserve Building protesting the bankster bailout during Cindy Sheehan’s campaign to unseat Nancy Pelosi in 2008. It has become my war protest song of choice. Audiences tend to sing along!
A recent rewriting of a two-chord song I composed hitch-hiking overnight on Highway 99 in central California in 1977, Standing in the Fog with a Wet Dog on Highway 99 Blues.
In 2014, 4-year-old Aisha Rashid was returning home to Kabul, Afghanistan with five members of her family after a doctor visit. A U.S. Predator Drone blasted the car she was in and killed everybody but her. Her face, ears and a limb were blown off. After a few local hospital stays, the Pentagon flew her to a military hospital in the USA. Her surviving family has sued to get her returned home, but the US refuses to do so, probably to keep her from being a poster child for their horrendous sins.
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