May Day

by David Rovics

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1.
116 Degrees 03:31
116 Degrees Blinken is bombing Baghdad, there's a famine in Tigray Fires are burning in Flagstaff, blocking out the day The wind blows so fiercely, the grass is turning brown And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town The spas and churches dripping with blood A tower collapsed in Miami, damaged from the flood Before the summer's over, who knows how many will drown And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town The prices of houses are rising like never before Along with ocean waters as the temperatures soar The developers develop, the water tables go down And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town In the Congress they're discussing infrastructure Whether it should be built to withstand fire, they're not sure They found a dead man in an RV wearing a thorny crown And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town Outside the motel a man was flipping out He called 911 to tell them about His need for mental health care, so they came and shot him down And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town Don't know where we're going, what kind of shit's in store I know I'm not the first to feel like I'm knocking on the door Of either a new dystopia or some movement of great renown And it's 116 degrees in Portland-town In the farms in the valley, they're out picking cherries Dropping dead on the field with a bucket of berries City of bridges, each one like a frown It's 116 degrees in Portland-town No way out, even north of the border Welcome to the New World Order Produced by criminal, corporate clowns It's 116 degrees in Portland-town
2.
Watch the Buildings Crumble I heard them marching, chanting “kill them all” I saw millions of people trapped behind ghetto walls I saw the soldiers shooting every Friday afternoon I saw some exposed to sickness with others made immune I saw the tear gas in Al-Aqsa, eyes open wide I saw the mob attack the motorist and beat him til he died I heard the generals lying, I saw the tanks moving in I heard the settlers shouting “let the killing begin” Look up above, hear the ear-splitting sound Watch the buildings crumble to the ground See the planes in the sky there by the sea So much like New York City I heard the wailing voices of the dying and forlorn Of the kids who couldn't get out and those who weren't warned I saw all the schools and the hospitals in pieces there still From the last time the IDF came to maim and kill I saw the brave children with piles of rocks Facing tanks demolishing city blocks What's left of the grove but some sap As they try to wipe Palestine off the map I heard the DNC and all the Republicans too Pledge allegiance to Netanyahu I heard the president starting the story with rockets launched from a ghetto Where people live in rubble, starved by an embargo I saw a whole lot of crocodile tears on display For the zillionth time I heard politicians say Can both sides please deescalate On one side are the occupied, on the other, an apartheid state
3.
If A Song Could Make Your Troubles Go Away I would write a line for your appendix, and several for your spleen I'd write one for every day you've had to quarantine I'd write at least a couple verses, the purest ones I ever sung If it might help you breath easier – one for each lung I'd sing for both your eyes, for al the words you couldn't say If a song could make your troubles go away I'd write a line for the state, in the hope it might fulfill A few basic obligations, a verse for the popular will For all the help that was promised, for each check that never came A few words for the hunger, a few more for the shame For a little while, a lullaby, to keep it all at bay If a song could make your troubles go away I'd write a line for every pickup truck loaded up with freight One for every worker, burdened by the weight One for the cartoneros, for each bag stuffed with cans Verses for the veterans and for those who just began One for each evacuee, looking for a place to stay If a song could make your troubles go away I'd write a line for all the lonely, for the imprisoned and the trapped One for every trouble in which each of us are wrapped I'd write verses for the future, for how things must evolve If these inequities are problems that we really want to solve I'd write a verse about the dreamers dreaming of a brighter day If a song could make your troubles go away
4.
It's Been A Year It's been a year since the virus arrived A year since in this country half a million died A year since all the borders were starting to be sealed A year since the hospitals were sprouting in the fields No question for anyone living around here It's been a year It's been a year since the cafes all closed Since the dates on the calendars froze As the windows turned to plywood, and the plywood turned to art And unless you were essential or worked in a food cart Then you just had to cope with the anxiety and fear It's been a year It's been a year since the wheels in motion Led to an uprising on each side of the ocean Exposed by the pandemic, by inequality 8 46 of the neck beneath the knee A time of counter-demos, for a while a coup seemed near It's been a year It's been a year since canceling the rent A year since the last of the money was spent Since so many saw we're all vectors for disease And there is such a thing as society Since the words “mutual aid” became ones you'll commonly hear Along with “grim milestone” – yes, it's been a year
5.
I Dreamed I Saw Anne Feeney I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney, it was on a picket line Somewhere in the world where the workers did combine Cheering on the strikers with a guitar in her hand From Oregon to Ireland I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney amid the foggy glow Of the flash-bang grenades outside the WTO Singing songs against the war at a military fort Or making arguments in court I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney in the Texas hills Singing songs around a torch at Kerrville Crossing every bridge she could with the wheels of a car With some CDs in the trunk along with a guitar I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney, I dreamed she never fell She was in Baja with her grandkids, doing swell Sharing free advice on how to find the cheapest flights So you can be throwing Swedish snowballs beneath the northern lights I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney get her first dose of vaccine Instead of reading of the people who died of Covid-19 In the New York Times, nice things that they said But I so much wish we could have Anne still here instead I dreamed I saw Anne Feeney
6.
In the Name of Freedom In the halls of power in Washington, DC Now that the pandemic has the planet on its knees Combined with the embargo, since they tightened up the screws They see something flammable, they want to light a fuse The empire can't pass up a chance to undermine And pursue their imperial designs Los Estados Unidos se creen (The United States believes) el país elegido por Dios (It's God's chosen country) para acabar con el mundo (To end the world) en nombre de la Libertad (In the name of freedom) From the halls of power in Washington, DC To the collapsing buildings on the shores of Miami You can see them on the TV, the crusaders of the north Talking from the tent camps about bringing freedom forth From the land where there's a massacre each and every day Listen to the president say In the halls of power in Washington, DC In the wake of all the blood they have spilled across the sea And across the very nation they claim is so free Where 1 in 4 children each night go to bed hungry The riot police are rioting here somewhere every night But other people need more rights
7.
When Chevron Came to Ecuador When Chevron came to Ecuador it was Texaco back then They did there what they did so many times again An ocean of sludge, stored in pits unlined No stone unturned, no resources unmined They call it the Chernobyl of the Amazon A thousand square miles dead and gone When Chevron came to Ecuador it was a dictatorship there What happened in the Amazon, they didn't care As long as they made money, let the oil flow Where the waste went, no one wanted to know And if they did they could be bought, and if not They could be abducted, tortured, and shot When Chevron came to Ecuador the location Was preferred by the oil corporation Because they had free rein, there was no oversight And if anyone complained, then one night They'd not be seen again, it was a torture state This was why Chevron thought it was so great When Chevron came to Ecuador it was paradise on Earth They turned it into a land of stillbirth They left behind the ruins and took all the loot Now they're trying to silence the ones who brought the lawsuit Why was Donziger detained, a corrupt judge knows And where are all the billions that the company owes
8.
Greenwood 03:24
Greenwood If you go to Tulsa today, in Greenwood you'll find a plaque A paragraph remembering when the neighborhood was Black It had been Indian Territory up til the Trail of Tears Then the government said it was part of the frontier People went to many places in the Great Migration They fled, and crossed the nation Some went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the dusty winds blow Where the pogrom was, a hundred years ago When America was settled they gave the settlers guns Collect the scalps and bounties, that's how the west was won And if a settler was slighted, there was little doubt It was the duty of a white man to wipe them out And when the World War was over, for the surviving traumatized Unemployment and media lies Back in Tulsa... Thousands gathered, ready for war Nothing like the one they'd fought before In this one the shots all went one way Planes dropped explosives, like a World War play Except the bombs and guns were very real So many lives lost, that are never going to heal In Tulsa... Insurance claims ignored, survivors interned After thirty blocks had burned To make sure to erase any memory When the highway came, it went through Greenwood city Still no reparations for all the property taken No justice for all of those lives forsaken In Tulsa...
9.
When the Workers of the World Combine The fifth month of the year, on the first of May Known around the world as International Workers Day You'll still see people marching in every corner of the Earth St John to Santiago, Kerala to Perth All keeping alive the fantasy, what could happen down the line When the workers of the world combine You can see us gathering early in the morn Some are celebrating the shackles we have shorn While so many billions are just waiting for The moment that we might stop losing the class war When someday we can all say yeah, we're doing fine When the workers of the world combine When that time arrives, maybe it looks like May Day Like a festival that comes home and doesn't go away Every race and gender, every walk and station With the working class united, every land and nation Then just watch what happens, when we follow the same sign When the workers of the world combine

about

A bunch of my favorite musicians in the world live in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Boston was my home for many formative years, including most of those that I spent making a living as a busker in the subways, which is when I first met and befriended Eric Royer and Sean Staples. Anything I recorded with other musicians from around 1997-2008 involved them. I moved to Oregon and found great musicians out there, and in Ireland and Scotland, to record with. But on an extended family visit to Boston in July 2021 we got the band back together, so to speak, and the result is this album, which I'm just wildly enthusiastic about, and I hope you are, too.

credits

released August 26, 2021

I wrote all the songs. The nitty gritty of the process with the album, in case you want to know, is we recorded everything in MIddlesborough, Massachusetts with the brilliant Dave Westner engineering. (Dave was also the engineer on my recording, Make It So, circa 1994.) Sean Staples played mandolin and guitar with me "live" in the studio, and later laid down those gorgeous organ tracks. Eric Royer played banjo with me live, and later laid down those delicious pedal steel parts. The bass was held down most capably by the brilliant Hazel Royer, who has not fallen far from the tree -- not surprisingly, the Hazel I remember as a baby is now a student at the Berklee College of Music and an accomplished recording artist, much like her father and her namesake, Hazel Dickens, in whose memory I would like to dedicate this album.

The cover was designed by the brilliant graphic artist and web guru, Kalindi Jackson.

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

I'm a frequently touring singer/songwriter based in Portland, Oregon, a regular contributor to Counterpunch, and host of the podcast, This Week with David Rovics, among other things.

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