Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Toward Freedom - Radical Folk Music: An Interview with David Rovics

Having just started a deadening temp job alphabetizing books that students had returned at the semester’s end, there was something comforting about hearing the triumphant chorus: “When all the minimum wage went on strike!” bouncing off the University of Wisconsin’s buildings. It was early May and rabble-rousing folk musician David Rovics was in Madison to celebrate the centennial of the International Workers of the World (IWW). I had first heard him play “Minimum Wage Strike” six years before at a student activism conference in Boston. I’ve been drawn to David’s music ever since. He continues to leave his own unique mark on the radical folk tradition. I had the chance to sit down with him on a lovely spring day inside the Orton Park gazebo where we discussed his passion for playing music for the revolution as an antidote to crippling wage slavery.

When you’re in a social situation and people ask you: "What do you do?" how do you usually respond?

I just say I play music. It’s my sole source of income so it’s an easy answer. Presumably they’re asking, "What do you do for a living?" or "What do you do with most of your time?" Of course with most of my time I don’t play music—I stare at computer screen or drive a car or sit in a plane. [Laughs]

Monday, August 29, 2005

Mother's Day in Crawford - A memo from the notebook of David Rovics

Mainly just thought I'd send out this lyric I just wrote on the plane to Houston yesterday, after reading Medea Benjamin's article by the same name in www.commondreams.org. (Lyrics at the end of this email.) After hearing so much about events in Crawford from friends who have been and gone -- or been and stayed -- I'm going to finally get a chance to visit Camp Casey tomorrow (Tuesday).

On Friday I leave for the Middle East for three weeks. While I'm there I'll try to be a little better than usual about maintaining my blog. I'll try to write with a little more detail about my visit there than I normally do. So if you want to read about my trip there, you can check out the "blog" link at www.davidrovics.com as the month progresses. Jack Olmsted, who has been doing a lot of promotion online to get the word out about "Song for Cindy Sheehan," is always telling me I need to get into video blogging. Maybe eventually... Maybe if I get a band together some day or something, the bass player can do that... But for now at least there will be text...

Speaking of getting a band together, I heard more great music in Asheville than I've heard in a while -- both at the wonderful benefit for the Asheville Global Report (one of the best weekly papers anywhere -- www.agrnews.org) that I participated in as well as just on the streets. Oldtime and bluegrass players are growing from the walls. I like that town (in spite of the two folks who didn't like my "we are all Palestinians" t-shirt).

Participating in the finale event (for this round) of Mountain Justice Summer was cool, too -- getting to meet all those folks who have been working so hard for a while now to call attention to the insanely destructive practice of Mountaintop Removal Mining. Check out www.mountainjusticesummer.org for more. (It's not just this summer, it's an ongoing campaign. Speaking tour coming to a town near you soon.)

My "Song for Cindy Sheehan" which, thanks to assistance from folks like Dana Lyons and John Fabiani, got recorded and put up on the web last week, has been getting around a bit. It was #1 on SoundClick's acoustic music charts at some point, has been played on Democracy Now!, Flashpoints, Air America and other fine radio shows, and a couple of folks have made videos using the song. You can check out the videos and a new, improved version of the MP3 by clicking on the link in the top center of the main page at www.davidrovics.com. There's been a noticeable increase in daily downloads on my page at SoundClick since that song went up, and as a result we'll be passing the 300,000th download mark any day now (of songs that have been downloaded since all of my songs got up on SoundClick whenever that was).

Here's the new lyric I mentioned at the beginning... Some other new lyrics can be found in the appropriate section on my website, incidentally... Oh, and seeing as this song is about mothers, and rumors are slowly spreading from the few folks who read my blog or from folks who are on Anne Feeney's email list, it's true that I'm having a baby sometime this winter. Or Nathalie is, anyway, and I'll watch. (And just to head off the really annoying questions, here are your answers: Are you going to stop touring? Yes, as soon as the US Army Marching Band does. Are you going to embrace monogamy and move to the suburbs? Yes, as soon as the Pope converts to Islam.)

Every Day Is Mother’s Day
David Rovics

There's a camp in Crawford, women in grief
No way for them to find any relief
Their sons are dead and they've come to see
The man who made their destiny
He's squirming there on his vacation
Trying to look like he's leading the nation
But folks are vying for that position
They've got guts and they've got a mission
You can open your ears and hear everybody say
That every day is mother's day

Well things were getting a little gritty
So the president went to Salt Lake City
And a sleepy little town in Idaho
But the mothers are on him wherever he goes
He just can't get 'em outta his hair
Wherever he is, they're right there
Calling him out for the liar he is
Saying don't kill more kids for your oil biz
Saying George, give up and just go away
'Cause every day is mother's day

And when George goes back to Washington
He'll have no place left to run
With rocking chairs to greet the dawn
And mothers camped on the White House lawn
Heeding the call of Julia Ward
A moral and mighty, motherly horde
The future is coming and the future looks hard
For W and his house of cards
The mothers are coming and they’re here to stay
Every day is mother's day