1939

by David Rovics

/
1.
He was born a rich man, then he got richer still By bribing politicians on Capitol Hill By declaring bankruptcy, by working with the mob By causing lots of Americans to lose their union jobs By exporting industries to sweatshops overseas By acting like an idiot on national TV But now add to his accomplishments one more impressive trait He's God's gift to the Caliphate In between his beauty pageants and gambling casinos And pretending to be a self-made man in films and TV shows Donald Trump decided he should run for president For jihadi recruiters his campaign is heaven-sent It's a war between religions, a civilizational fight That's what Daesh says – and Donald Trump says “that's right All you Muslims stay out of here – just go join Islamic State” He's not much for statistics, he doesn't have the time Between harassing women and committing corporate crime But he's a savvy gambler, he knows how to play the game He's got a list of groups ready-made for him to blame He doesn't just hate Muslims – he hates Mexicans as well And he's prepared to win the contract for the wall he wants to sell But the terrorists around the world think he's really great The future of the world may be technically unknown But if the past is any indication then Trump has set the tone Along with 27 governors and Congresspeople by the score Who, if we turned the clock back to 1944 Would be turning back the refugees just like we did back then Hey that worked out so well, why not just do it all again Because what the world clearly needs is more bile, bombs and hate
2.
It's 1939 and the boats are coming But we can't have them here, that much at least is clear Our economy is poor, we can't just open up the door We've got problems of our own, they should just leave us alone And they're a tribalistic race, they keep a separate space They don't really integrate, they'll be a burden on the state Watch before it is too late It's 1939 and the boats are coming But if we let them land and acquiesce to their demands We'll soon be overrun, our Christian country will be done They should just take the tram closer by to Amsterdam Keep their problems in the region, this invading legion Enemies within our ranks with names like Rosenberg and Frank Watch that water that you drank It's 1939 and the boats are coming But they must stay away, in the newspapers they say They don't believe in Christ the lord and they're jumping overboard Crossing borders in a swarm, they'll never be reformed It's a Trojan Horse attack and we've got to send them back There may be Nazis in the hall, answering Hitler's call These Jews are Germans after all It's 1939 and the boats are coming
3.
If/Then 01:22
If you've heard the news of the beheadings, seen the planes on bombing runs Read of the carnage at the weddings, heard about these men with guns Seen the photos of buildings mangled, the footage of the fields burned The shots of bodies left entangled, there should be a lesson learned If you saw them walking into the cafes, standing in the crowd If you've watched the replays, heard them shouting out aloud Death to all the unbelievers, Allahu Akbar, God is great If you've heard the screams there in the theater as they died for the Caliphate If you saw the planes hit the towers, saw the smoke that filled the sky Smelled the candles and the flowers – if you looked up and wondered why Someone would be hell-bent to kill so many fellow men If you wondered what they once meant when they said “never again” Then you know why they are fleeing – there's a ringing in your ears Then you see what they are seeing – you know why they're coming here Then you understand your task now is to open up the door Then you – you must give them shelter from the war
4.
It's a long way from Nairobi, travel across the country To an arid northern little border town If you leave early in the day you'll still be on your way Long after the sun is going down It began as just a ride to the other side But then was interrupted by the sound Of the shattering of glass as the driver tried to pass The men with guns there on the dusty desert ground There were two already dead, another shot as she fled No question here whose lives were now at stake When all is said and done it is instances like this one When every move is one that just might make or break All passengers get out, men with guns began to shout You Christians now get up against the wall But then everyone stayed still, saying now do as you will You may leave, or you may kill us all It wasn't far away, just over a year ago today When people were massacred exactly in this manner The pattern it was clear, all the Muslims here Would be safe if they just stood beside this banner Headscarves passed from hand to hand among this human band Live together or together fall And then nobody moved, showing each of them approved Of saying you may leave, or you may kill us all It wasn't set in stone – there's no way they could have known That this time this act of solidarity Would see the gunmen leave, goals left unachieved On the border there in Mandera County But sometimes you take a chance, then at a second glance You see you've changed the world with the passing of a shawl There are those who will remember those who on one day in December Said you may leave, or you may kill us all
5.
1492 04:38
In 1492 Colombo crossed the Ocean Only one of many horrors that would then be set in motion As his men cut limbs of Arawaks and burned children at the stake Plundering a continent for God's sake In 1492 when King Ferdinand won Granada He passed a law known as the Edict of Alhambra It was as the landlords wanted, as his gracious God had willed That any Jew in Spain had three months to leave or else be killed And 800,000 Europeans became refugees And headed east across the Mediterranean Sea In 1492 they were starving and bereft The King said they'd be safe up until the time they left But Christian Europeans cut them open with their swords Searched their stomachs for gold and dumped them overboard In 1492 the Sultan sent his fleet To go rescue Sephardim after the Ottoman defeat Hundreds of thousands of people who knew their deaths were near Were rescued by Muslims and taken to Izmir In 1492 the Sultan said that's fine If they'd impoverish their kingdom just to enrich mine The Sultan also passed an edict – he said “welcome home “Now treat your new neighbors as if they were your own”
6.
Anthony Hill 01:35
7.
Sunset Laws 02:16
You wanna understand what happens today You gotta know how things got this way So let's back up from the present date And examine the history of a state As with the rest of this stolen land Mass murder is how it began From the first days of the Territory Only white men could own property And to them the land was given for free From Wallowa to the Pacific Sea Taken by force and then handed out Leaving no room for the slightest doubt That a White Homeland was the intent And to make it certain just what that meant Signs were posted that clearly read Leave by dusk or end up dead Best get out of town before the sun goes down Because if you're not white that's probable cause Here in the land of the Sunset Laws The Oregon Territory's Constitution Explained the methods of exclusion It wasn't subtle – it was all too clear Nonwhite people not welcome here And when Oregon joined the USA It entered the union with laws this way Salem could fine and lash and kill To enforce the white land's will After the war of gray and blue Exclusion Laws were passed anew They weren't repealed for sixty more years After the Klansman rule of Walter Pierce It feels a lot like nothing's changed Looks a lot like a firing range Who owns the land, who keeps the order From Portland to the California border
8.
It's a story everyone should know It happened a half century ago All across this sprawling nation The rising of a generation It started slow and then gained speed Nobody knew where it would lead First there were marches, then there were more Way too many to keep score They shut down classes, couldn't learn Once they ascertained how napalm burned They had to find out how to defy People stood up because they couldn't stand by There were parades held by the military brass There were cities filled with CS gas Real wars and war games Recruitment centers up in flames Light a match, then in a flash Draft cards turned to ash Thousands moved across the border Refusing military orders Every army base in the USA Had an antiwar cafe There are times when you just can't comply Soldiers insisted on free will Put down their guns, refused to kill Newspapers of the underground Ubiquitously could be found Across the country, across the sea Throughout the ranks of the military Take a grenade, pull out the pin Praise be to Ho Chi Minh Another fragging every night A war that many refused to fight Bombs were falling, some asked why The ruling classes, with all their powers Shook inside their ivory towers They were brought to their knees back then That's why we don't have the draft again Even back then some of them knew They had to be careful, what they tried to do Rulers who miscalculate Lose control of their ship of state In order to govern you need consent And all of that just up and went In '68 came the reply
9.
Rasmea 01:30
Rasmea was born in Palestine a year before she had to flee Her family left their home at gunpoint – since then she's been a refugee She lived a hard life in the camps, her dad had to move away Try to support his family from way out in Michigan, USA When Rasmea was first arrested, not much older than a kid There had been a bombing, and the next thing the authorities did Was round up the whole neighborhood – 500 women, children and men They tortured Rasmea – they only stopped when They extracted their confession – she did what she had to do Having no idea when her ordeal would be through After 10 years in a dungeon, in the land of stolen fates She was sent to Jordan, from where she moved to the United States Rasmea made a life here helping refugees like her Adapting to their new lives and the people they once were Until her home was raided because she once checked the wrong box For not mentioning the confession produced by the electro-shocks Again Rasmea was arrested – once again stripped of citizenship Some drink deeply of their freedom – some only get a little sip The fact that she was tortured was not considered of import Only Israeli military evidence was recognized by the American court Now they say they will deport her from the city on the lake They say that 20 years ago she made a technical mistake They say Rasmea is a terrorist, but I'd say it would seem Rasmea Odeh is the victim of a terrorist regime
10.
Saed Bannoura is a friend of mine But I'm lucky to know him, to be sure He is from a land called Palestine From the town of Beit Sahur His house was a mile from where Jesus was born And a mile from a military base He grew up under occupation Such a lovely town but such a terrifying place When the First Intifada started Saed was facing off with tanks So many of the youth then became martyrs And Saed almost joined their ranks He was running from a death squad Soldiers shot him in the chest and in the back They shot him six times altogether But Saed said you guys just don't have the knack He wouldn't die, he wouldn't die They tried hard to kill him But he just spat in their eye He wouldn't die, he wouldn't die, he wouldn't die A soldier came and kicked him to turn him over A blow that broke four of his bones A local doctor ran to try to help him The soldiers said you leave him alone It was hours before they took him To hospital where he got surgery But after they cut out half his lung And patched him back together most sloppily To stop the intifada They tried different strategies First they tried packing the prisons Then they tried brutalilty Neither one of these things worked So they tried assassination But now he's sitting right in front of me Working at his station Yes they tried to kill Saed Bannoura And they succeeded with so many more But now Saed is a citizen of Portland My neighbor, by the Willamette River shore And now Saed is a journalist Reporting from his wheelchair Though twenty years ago he took six bullets Which was quite a lot more than his share
11.
Aleppo 02:56
When the bomb went off that killed your mother And you left at midnight with your sister and your father When you spent your first night sleeping amid the mortars As your family made its way to the Turkish border As you saw the dead and dying all around you When there was nowhere you could hide, nothing you could do And when you were living in a tent in Turkey There along with a million other refugees When your father said we must keep heading north to Sweden That there we might live in a house again As you slept out in the open beneath the darkness of the sky Did you dream about your mama and her hazel eyes Did you miss Aleppo and your nanny, Nenita Did you wish you could be home in Syria When you crammed into the raft that took you to dry land Did your spirits lift a little when your father kissed the sand Did you listen to him say now we must go to Macedonia Did you hear somebody tell him it was better than Bulgaria And as you ran across the border that took you out of Greece And you saw your father being hit by the police When you packed into the truck, did you feel the trepidation As it moved along the highway closer towards your destination How soon did people realize, when did they begin to shout How hard was your heart pounding before all the air ran out What was your final dream from which you would not awaken Did you wonder why your young life now was going to be taken Or did you just miss Aleppo...
12.
When Lola was born the First World War Had only just ended 3 years before In '77 she took a flight She told a reporter who asked her that it was alright 2002 is the year that she died She lived in Manhattan on the Upper West Side If you look on the web that's almost all that will show There once was a Lola Aglialoro She always said she was from England But after she died I learned she came from the mainland The last Kindertransport was the one she was on And she spent her youth then being bombed in London She met a soldier, followed him back How many kids she raised, who could keep track Only 2 of her own, but so many others would follow My nanny Lola Aglialoro She always said she never had A problem with the gangsters they said were so bad She would laugh loudly, as she often did Saying I knew all the gangsters when they were wee kids She said not one child should be forsaken Maybe because her own childhood had been taken A woman of joy, a woman of sorrow A lady named Lola Aglialoro As I grew up I still kept in touch With this woman who had affected so many so much My lady of laughter, my mother of mirth Who seemed to know so deeply what laughter was worth There's no Stumbling Stone to recall when she came And she long ago changed both her first and last name But now there's a song so someone out there might know There was once a Lola Aglialoro
13.
Stolperstein 02:31
When I first showed up in Deutschland, camping on the Rhine The first town that I went to was also the first sign Of the kind of self-reflection that had gone on around here Indications everywhere, so shiny and so clear Look down at the sidewalk where a little light is shown When you stumble upon a stumbling stone What did this place once look like, who lived on this block It can't be recreated but you can partially take stock Look down at the sidewalk for a little bronze square Read the words engraved upon it that says who was living there Before they were taken away to the dark unknown Little squares all over, you'll find them all around Not much information on them, and they don't make a sound But if your imagination is anything like mine Then all you need to trigger it is one lone Stolperstein Take a moment to remember as you look down from your phone There are six little squares here – one for each member Of one family that was taken one morning in December The youngest child was 2, the eldest one was 10 Within a year each one of them had died at Sachsenhausen Their bodies burnt to ashes – flesh and blood and bone And every time I see them I wish I would see more Embedded in the sidewalks on so many other shores Just one stone to remember each one who met their fate At all the slave plantations, in all the torture states But for some it's safer to just leave the dead alone
14.
Soup is cooking in the cauldron, there's a freight train passing by A plane streaking through the night air way up in the sky Nearby the leaves are shimmering and they rustle in the breeze Blowing smoke upon our faces and on the guitars on our knees Like a message from the mountain saying now here we are Around this campfire, beneath these stars Someone throws a log on, lighting up our faces And the more or less together state of each of our shoelaces Someone tells a story of a place she'd like to go And it feels like nothing's changed much since a thousand years ago The glowing embers of a pipe, the passing of a jar Around this campfire, beneath these stars Out there in the world kids are sleeping in their cots Fishermen are hauling nets and tying fishing knots Somewhere someone's dancing, someone's drilling a gas well Someone's writing memoirs sitting in a prison cell Some of us are wondering is there life up there on Mars? Around this campfire, beneath these stars
15.
I think of summer festivals, I think of double dates I think of being searched by cops outside the prison gates I think of dark-haired women, one or two or maybe four I think of singing songs together, planning to sing more I think of Queensland summer, swimming in cool waters With you and me and Woodford and Athena's daughters I think of driving down the highway feeling like the lucky few I think of Grevious Angels, Gram and Emmylou I think of Maralinga and the BLF Seventh chords in open tunings and the mighty treble clef I think of 1917 and the red flag flying high Above the streets of Glasgow, beneath a blood-red sky I think of Roaring Jack and how you would repine Of decades fueled in equal parts by politics and wine I think of meeting friends, both old and very new I think of driving down the highway with Gram and Emmylou I think of Aotearoa, gazing at the stars I think of that drunken driver who totalled our car I think of playing in the Bunker, how that audience had spunk Half of them old folkies, half of them young punks I think of all the miners who slowly fade away I think about the moment when I heard it was your day I think about this CD that I got from you When I'm driving down the highway with Gram and Emmylou
16.
For about a century, there was a prohibition Which put a heck of a lot of people in a difficult position Each year millions went to prison for planting the wrong seeds Imprisoned for the crime of smoking weed Imprisoned in their millions, especially those Black or brown or wearing long hair and hippie clothes But I stand here before you with quite a bit of pleasure To tell you all about a successful ballot measure It's legal now, it's legal now, take a bow, it's legal now The politicians were useless, almost all the same Playing the Military-Industrial-Prison-Complex game But the regular people weren't nearly as dumb So some folks took initiative and we passed a referendum Now people don't have to risk arrest if they want to treat their ills With something other than pharmaceutical pills And if you just wanna take a hit because you like the feeling You can safely walk the streets or just stare up at the ceiling Now that pot's legit, at least in large parts of the west We can get to work legalizing all the rest The poppies and the coca leaves and all the other plants Safer, regulated, will be the official stance The CIA will have to find another way to operate The FBI will need a new MO for their whole police state When we legalize it all from the west coast to the east Then we can say right here in the belly of the beast
17.
Steel birds streak through the sky above the Syrian Levant The pilot flew the plane all the way from Nantes Explosions rock the cities in this proxy civil war So many innocents killed, they've long since lost the score Jean-Pierre fired a missile and was heard to say He wished he could be home in France at his favorite cafe Not fighting in a conflict that shows no sign of ever ending As the Eagles of Death were descending The bars were filled with people on a balmy Friday night Out enjoying the weather, having a drink or a bite Watching football in a stadium, hearing a live band Washing dishes in a restaurant or shopping for the latest brand The luckiest ones stayed home, catching a TV show Not knowing how glad they'd be that they didn't go Out that evening to join a war they had just last week been protesting When the Eagles of Death were descending The Right is overjoyed, prepared to do their best to try To use these acts of terror to continue to deny Asylum for the refugees, who are largely fleeing the same men Who took over their towns and cities at the very same time when They escaped the carnage to attempt to cross the sea To be refused safe haven in the land of fraternity Where this war that has come home keeps rivening and rending As the Eagles of Death were descending
18.
Did you get up in the morning, see your kids off to school As you headed to the office was it hard to keep your cool When you saw the news and the picture of the boy On the beach just down the coast from the ancient town of Troy Did you think about the victims of these most uncivil wars When you saw the children washing up upon our shores Did you hear the pundits talking, did you hear them say We must have law and order, all these migrants cannot stay Did you see the people walking, trying not to look At the headlines splashed around them and this photo someone took Did you want to shout at each of them, knock on every door And tell them there are children washing up upon our shores Is the thought seared in your mind when you see your son or daughter Of this child from Kobane face down beside the water Did you keep on asking since then, what if it had been you Do you just wish that you could find out what just one person could do Is his image all around you as the sweat comes from your pores There are children washing upon upon our shores Do you just keep on asking yourself the question why As you make dinner for your children, this one had to die If you just hit the road from England a few days south and east Do you think about how you could, and once you're there at least You could leave a flower, and hear the wind implore There are children washing up upon our shores
19.
My great great grandfather was a refugee From a place called Ireland He didn't want to leave home, but when you're a slave Nothing goes how you might have planned Like most of the island, he had nothing to eat He survived by going away But if he hadn't starved, and if he hadn't left Perhaps he would have lived to see the day When after centuries of subjugation Under English queens and kings Came the movement of the Irish Spring When things were set in motion around one Easter morning To move from colony to nation When through the foggy dew could be seen lines of marching men Heading towards a country's liberation Then a century ago, on April 24th Suddenly, one day the spell was broken For 6 days and nights, all across the island The spirit of resistance had spoken Quickly it was clear – even the deaf could hear The sounds of two armies battling And the bullets of the Irish Spring Buildings lay in ruins when the rebels had surrendered A battle lost – a war only begun Chains, once thrown off, don't go back on easily And soon the British Army was on the run The Dail convened and declared the Republic A nation among the others on the Earth A nation with a people, with a culture and a history Celebrated from Liverpool to Perth A nation with a memory That's in the songs it sings With the music of the Irish Spring A revolution left unfinished, you can hear many people say On the streets of Derry and Belfast But in all 32 counties you'll hear many people talking Of the struggles and the martyrs of the past Of those who dared stand up and teach us through example What it means sacrifice it all Of those who demonstrated if they believe that they are free Only then can they possibly stand tall Of Connolly and Pearse and all those who gave their lives That they might hear the bells of freedom ring With the rising of the Irish Spring
20.
Rent Control 02:11
They say the economy is booming tho on this there's much debate It depends on how well you're getting by Development is zooming, some folks think that's great And now you can legally get high But even that can't mask the pain that so many of us feel When we're paying so much rent To be homeless in the rain is so nasty and so real Looks like the good times came and went Rent control (2x) 'Cause that's the way everything should be Rent control (2x) The choice of a democracy In some places they make laws that limit corporations That keep greedy landlords in check Here we have the cause but we lack the politicians With enough spine in their necks Every day that passes while we don't have rent control Is an insult to the human race Time to get up off our asses, take back the city that they stole Put the greedy bankers in their place
21.
Wohin auch das Auge blicket Moor und Heide nur ringsum Vogelsang uns nicht erquicket Eichen stehen kahl und krumm Wir sind die Moorsoldaten und ziehen mit dem Spaten ins Moor Hier in dieser öden Heide ist das Lager aufgebaut wo wir fern von jeder Freude hinter Stacheldraht verstaut Auf und nieder geh´n die Posten keiner, keiner kann hindurch Flucht wird nur das Leben kosten vierfach ist umzäunt die Burg Doch für uns gibt es kein Klagen ewig kann nicht Winter sein einmal werden froh wir sagen Heimat du bist wieder mein Dann zieh´n die Moorsoldaten nicht mehr mit dem Spaten ins Moor Dann zieh´n die Moorsoldaten nicht mehr mit dem Spaten ins Moor
22.
When the world has gone crazy And it's all becoming clear When they're gunning down our comrades And it seems the end is near As they're loading up the launchers For the tear gas grenades We can take off our bandanas And kiss behind the barricades When it's madness all around You can see this at a glance We will cry and we will sing And we will laugh and we will dance As they shout their marching orders Beneath the helicopter blades We will seize the moment For a kiss behind the barricades They will try to break our spirit And at times they may succeed But our love for the world Is stronger than their greed When the building is surrounded And hope begins to fade In my final hour A kiss behind the barricades As the movement grows There will be hills and bends But at the center of the struggle Are your lovers and your friends The more we hold each other up The less we can be swayed Here's to love and solidarity And a kiss behind the barricades

about

Mostly songs I wrote during the last half of 2015, which I put together into a set and recorded live in front of an audience at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon.

credits

released January 11, 2016

Billy Oskay was the engineer, with Nate Stoll ably assisting. Cover photo by Guy Smallman, graphics by Elona Planman. All songs written by David except Die Moorsoldaten.

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC

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