Meanwhile In Afghanistan (double album)

by David Rovics

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Folks who download this album will also receive 12 additional tracks. Same titles, same order, but all solo acoustic versions of the album, which is otherwise very much a full band project.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    This CD features Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine) playing lead guitar on "London Is Burning," and a stellar cast of other musicians including Nick Angelo and Asher Fulero. Other tracks include "If Only It Were True," "Watch Out for the Cops," and "Israeli Geography 101." (Note that the CD is not a double album -- the acoustic version of the CD which makes the album a double album only comes with the digital version, and on the thumb drive.)

    Includes unlimited streaming of Meanwhile In Afghanistan (double album) via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 29 David Rovics releases available on Bandcamp and save 70%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Live in Boulder, Killing the Messenger, May Day, It's Been A Year, Rebel Songs, Say Their Names, Notes from a Failed State, Viral Solidarity, and 21 more. , and , .

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Breivik 03:40
They say he acted alone for a Europe white and free A sick and twisted man from an otherwise sane society The image of Aryan blond, almost iridescent With a manifesto quoting from the Crusades to the present But he stood on many shoulders, of this we can be sure A millenia of xenophobes who slaughter to be pure Since before the First Crusade, when a mighty Christian band Hacked and stabbed and burned their way to the Holy Land They say he acted alone but in his mind he was another Of those who came before him, his mighty Christian brothers Who rode, covered in armor, and served their masters well They vowed to chastity, they vowed to kill the infidel They marauded west and east in the name of Christendom They killed Jews, pagans, Muslims, fellow Christians by the thousand In the name of Jesus, from the Jordan to the Rhine The red cross on their chest plates, their terrifying sign In the shadow of the Knights Templar They say he acted alone, no one said this of the Pope Whose victims were left burning or hanging from a rope The Lord's own Inquisition for six centuries The ethnic cleansing of a continent, a Christian tyranny European Jews and European Muslims Fled the Christian Caliphate to be protected by the Sultan For five hundred years they prospered beneath the Turkish sky For those left behind: convert or die In the shadow of the Knights Templar They say he acted alone but he's living in a country Where the xenophobic right is the second-biggest party And he's living on a continent that is over-run With Prime Ministers who tell us multiculturalism is done They talk of their traditions, they swell with Christian pride For their civilization built on holocaust and genocide Anders Breivik pulled the trigger but he didn't write the play That script was being written a thousand years ago today In the shadow of the Knights Templar They say he acted alone and they want us to believe That moderating rhetoric is the best we can achieve but moderating rhetoric will bring us nowhere near To the understanding that the problem is right here European empires, European greed European Christians, poison European seeds European racists running European states European tolerance for European hate In the shadow of the Knights Templar
Holy Land 5 04:03
They grew up among the bombs of the occupation Bulldozed houses, that was the situation Refugee camps, Khan Yunus and Shatila Children gunned down in the Intifada Poverty and hunger, a place to slowly die These five men decided at least they had to try From their homes in Texas to the stateless nation They started up the Holy Land Foundation They sent food and medicine, that's all they ever did Aside from sending toys for little kids Feed the hungry, they say that's a good deed But apparently it all depends on who you want to feed If they're living in the ghettos under IDF command If they think they don't deserve to starve in their homeland If Sharon says all that's theirs is mine If they're from a place called Palestine The Holy Land is crying out Leaving little room for doubt From ruined homes the kids ask you What in the world will you do? They sent money to the Zakat Committees The same ones funded by USAID But these were Arabs aiding Palestinians They opposed the occupation and they were Muslims Their phones were tapped for years but nothing could be found So with an executive order Bush shut them down Freezing all their funds, taking food from kids That's exactly what the US government did These men supports Hamas, the government proclaimed Although they couldn't find a cent sent in their name But they had evidence, for the first time in a court An anonymous Israeli would submit his report Behind a veil with no rights to cross-examination He could smell Hamas, this was his explanation First the jury hung, so they tried them again And for feeding hungry people they were sent to prison Chorus Now five men are in cells, no one knows what for Every Muslim an unindicted co-conspirator Be careful what you say, be wary what you hear Or end up in a CMU for 65 years Cut off from the world, held in a little box Back home kids are getting shot for throwing rocks No one stops the charities sending money for tanks For illegal settlements all over the West Bank This is justice in America, if you didn't know it now you do And a retrial was denied, I should mention that, too A retrial was denied and who knows who's next to go To be tortured in a Little Guantanamo The Constitution's suspended, they just haven't let us know It's easier that way, just say it isn't so The Holy Land Foundation, you know it's true They did what all of us should do Chorus
Netanyahu is in a tizzy, his eyes are filled with hate He said the problem with those Arabs is they won't recognize a Jewish state He said those Palestinians just won't come around To accepting Jewish rule on their holy ground He said the Arabs don't accept their new neighbors in the 'hood Those ungrateful regimes don't respect us as they should Well I don't want to upset anyone or to unduly take to task But if a state wants recognition it seems reasonable to ask Where are your borders? (4x) I heard him speaking to the Congress, getting his 29th standing o He said we need our security from those terrorists, don't you know If you want security, I wonder if you'd say it's true That the Palestinians should have security too 'Cause if you want security it seems only fair That you should also grant it to the people over there And maybe you could answer, though the question is a sin Just where your country ends and your neighbors' lands begin Where are your borders? (4x) He said we're the only democracy in the Middle East Or actually, he said, the only viable one at least The PA isn't viable 'cause they didn't vote Abbas They voted for those terrorists that they call Hamas So we can't recognize them -- though we wish they would agree That we stole their land quite fairly here by the Mediterranean Sea We stole it fair and square -- we stole it just like you If you don't like you're an anti-Semite -- whether you're a Muslim or a Jew Where are your borders? (4x)
The cops shot another man, they have that kind of knack And it may not be coincidental that he was Black He was sitting in his car, they say he might have had a gun What we know for sure is he had five kids -- daughters and sons Now he cannot have a family, he'll never see his friends His neighbors understand what kind of message this sends Some life is worth less, some life is worth more You don't have to be a mathematician to know the score Some people get shot for being who they are Some people play with iPads and drive in fancy cars Some people go to college, other ones do not It depends on how much money you got The government cuts their spending, widening the divide Then reacts with disbelief when they face the tide Of anger at the cuts of the futures that they rob With each day so many have to live without a job Now the flames are getting hotter, maybe coming to your town London is burning down Cameron went on TV in his suit and tie If the riots asked a question then this was his reply We'll arrest these hooligans, these people without shame They are only criminals and it's criminals to blame Morals have decayed among the peasants' ranks So let us lock them up while we bail out the banks When that's the way they look at it, it's not very hard To watch things fall apart in this house of cards Chorus You can flip through all the channels, hear clueless people whine These kids have too much freedom and all this is just a sign That we need more policemen to teach them some respect Well if that's your line then I know just what you can expect The class will be repeated until the lesson has been learned All you need is some injustice to make your cities burn All you need is the perception -- whether or not it's true That most of us will never live the way you do Chorus
Adelaide 04:51
I was a cynic long before we met I think that's how it tends to be You go around the block, that's where you get And that's how it was with you and me But there isn't a single day that passes by When I don't ask if I could've made the grade When I don't see your name and wonder why I didn't go to Adelaide Perhaps when I was a younger man, Back when I believed in fate I would not have turned and ran, I would have known I'd found my mate I would've known this was something of a different kind I would've known I had it made I would've known when to change my mind And I would've gone to Adelaide Woodford in the summer is a hot place In the coming weeks it got hotter still Each day I look up and I see your face Staring at me just above my windowsill I said I – I was already taken But maybe I was just afraid To leave a woman's heart forsaken If I went to Adelaide When it's daytime where I sit For you it's usually night But every other day I still get hit By what should be a familiar sight Each time I see your name appear on my screen I feel like I've been flayed If we chat I just try not to mention How much I long for Adelaide They say time heals everyone This is something I have come to disbelieve Because each time a new day is done I think of all the things I never will achieve Such as being the father of your child Hiking with him in a forest glade Such as having my heart beguiled By the hottest Red in Adelaide Sometimes I wish I were a Buddhist Not just a worshipper of dirt Then I could make up for all I missed And live a life in someone else's shirt I'd live in the southern hemisphere I would be the guy who stayed Each and every day I'd hold you near In our little home in Adelaide
I found myself in Rostock to protest the G8 That was good but there's something else that I'd commemorate It started with a text message I got on my cell phone Eating in the Hotel Troika, sitting all alone I had just bought the SIM card only the day before Stuck it on my website and now I knew what for The words upon my screen asked are you coming to Berlin No I said but come meet me here at the town I'm in She said her name was Rosa and the next thing that I knew She said go down to the Hauptbanhof, I'll be there in a few It was roll the dice, jump on in and see what happens next Answering a smoke signal or a random text I went down to the station to pick up my blind date And I was suddenly transported to Damascus Gate She had a denim jacket and a studded leather belt My knees began to buckle, my heart began to melt She was a Syrian princess (3x) The princess of Syria I asked her are you hungry, would you like to have a meal She said it's almost midnight and that's not the way I feel Then do you wanna come with me back to my hotel She didn't skip a beat, she just said that'd be swell When we got there we spoke, tried to be understood I don't speak Arabic or German and her English wasn't good She started looking bored, I asked is it time for sleep She said ya, let's count some sheep Chorus We brushed our teeth together, I wondered what was going on In those hours after midnight, just before the dawn It was right around that time that someone called her on her phone And it was then that I heard her ring tone It was a song that I recorded in 1999 I felt a bit embarrassed, but mostly I felt fine We walked into the bedroom, she took off her shoes Then she asked me is there something I can do Chorus We had breakfast together, then she said fare thee well I wondered if I'd see her again, couldn't really tell She went back to her home, I went back to mine But I'm still looking at my cell phone, waiting for a sign When I'm alone in a hotel room I wonder if it might Be a day to turn out like things did on that night Good times have happened since but I take off my hat 'Cause I've never had another night like that Chorus
Fifty heads of state came to threaten and to boast To articulate their mission and together make a toast To the new schemes they are hatching, to the next regime they'll change To the next nation they'll turn into a bombing range They hyped it in the radio, newspapers and TV The anarchists who'd come and destroy the city The anarchists who'd come, and the undercover cops The old Chicago Red Squad and their psy-ops It's the cops who bought the petrol, the cops who bought the cans The cops who brought it home, the cops who made the plans So they got the terrorists they wanted and now they're doing fine They got the terrorists and they got the headlines I wanna know who (3x) Who is the terrorist? Meanwhile in Afghanistan another family is dead Wiped out in their sleep as they were lying in their bed Wiped out of existence like so many are each day This is liberation, so they say This is liberation and in case you are unsure The NSA will tell you if your thoughts might be impure While the generals fly their Air Force all the way across the ocean They'll build military bases, drop bombs of all description But if you drive from Florida to the city of Chicago To pay a little visit to Mayor Rahmbo Watch out for the cops who bring home the gasoline And your apartment becomes a crime scene Chorus Meanwhile in Afghanistan a village has been hit A wedding party transformed into a pit Transformed into a graveyard for children, women, men Transformed into a graveyard for empire again A place where terrorists are born with every drone attack A graveyard for the midwest boys never coming back A graveyard for society, a graveyard for ideals A place to bury all the hearts of anyone who feels And at the meeting in Chicago they'll talk of women's rights They'll talk about the terrorists they've got within their sights The terrorists abroad, the terrorists so near The terrorists who grew up in a suburb around here Chorus Meanwhile in Afghanistan more protesters shot down By NATO troops who had to prove it's them who run this town By NATO troops who have to show that they are in control While it all comes crashing down in the countries that they stole NATO troops committing war crimes every day Ruling over nations in the old imperial way The lying generals in Chicago with their satellites and tanks Taking orders from their bosses, the oil men and banks Taking orders from their bosses, looking suitably enraged At terror foreign and domestic, real or staged Whether led on by informants or just pissed off by the war The terrorists are meeting behind closed doors Chorus
Portland is a town that's in the news much of the time There are a lot of vegans and there's very little crime It's a nice safe place to live, folks ride bicycles a lot The winters aren't so cold and the summers aren't so hot They build houses out of cob, they hang out in the park Where you needn't worry about walking after dark There are lots of homeless people but they don't hurt no one Just be careful of the boys in blue playing with their guns Watch out for the cops (4x) You can hang out with the punks with the piercings and tattoos You can eat out at a food truck, any neighborhood you choose You can dance to Balkan music while you drink a microbrew Chilling in a gay bar with the mayor and his crew But be careful what you do, be prepared to get some flack Especially for those who may be male, young and Black The fact is you'd do better in sweet home Alabam You're safer there on the old streets of Birmingham Watch out for the cops (4x) Portland's full of roses, there are flowers everywhere But for others they've got prisons with some nice electric chairs You can go downtown, ride the buses there for free But you never know when you'll get a DWB A town full of progressives but such a rotten bunch of cops Who knows who'll get shot at the next routine traffic stop? When you live in a place like Portland where they tend to act this way You can just join the police force instead of the KKK! Watch out for the cops (4x)
I turned on my TV, though it was hard to see These men who'd be head of state What a great country, from sea to shining sea We watch the Republicans debate Newt stood with his third wife, and said you bet your life The president is a red He wants to tax the rich a lot and take your limo and your yacht He wants to have the bankers' heads And if he gets in again he'll paint the White House pink and then He'll hire Chavez as his VP Then we'll be right on track to give capitalism the sack Along with the insurance industry If only it were true, if only it were true I'd be so happy -- wouldn't you? If only it were true, if only it were true, if only it were true He'll give everyone food stamps and wheelchair ramps He'll subsidize windmills and maple syrup He'll cripple industries with eco-friendly policies And pretty soon we will be just like Europe He'll shut down oil wells and deliver solar cells To each home in Delaware and Illinois He'll ban logging in the parks, he'll send the works of Karl Marx To the homes of every American girl and boy He'll abolish pesticides, he'll be giving out free rides And free lunches, too, inside his high-speed trains He'll start lots of public works, full of union perks He'll fill all the cities up with bicycle lanes Chorus Watch out, his critics tell, this shall be our death knell He'll pull the troops out and end all of our wars He'll gut military spending, our empire will be ending And soon we'll be invaded by the Moors He'll legalize all drugs, give away beer mugs And hookas to every child -- and Korans He'll ban religions from the schools, give 40 acres and a mule To every person who makes less than 50 grand He'll shut down Guantanamo, to torture he'll say no He'll make us all drive electric cars He'll reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, take off that damn flag pin And he'll put Rupert Murdoch behind bars Chorus
People are marching against the chiefs of industry Who are trying to protect their intellectual property Secret negotiations to make a secret deal They've got Warner Brothers, Sony and the Presidential Seal They say they lobby on behalf of you and me, I say Steal this MP3 Fifty years ago, what some call the Golden Age Indy FM was the king, the world was a stage Independent labels made records by the score Enter 2012 -- now there are only four I've got words for these plutocrats who claim to represent me Steal this MP3 In between commercials they play "nothing but the hits" And they hope to placate all of us with Lady Gaga's tits They laid off all their staff before the PC was invented And now they blame the world that their profits have been dented So the 1% is trying to make sure they get their fee Steal this MP3 It's the rich who line their pockets while the rest of us get screwed It could all be a comedy if it weren't so crude They want to arrest you for sharing knowledge -- for violating copyright To quote my friend Attila, these capitalists are a blight They don't care about the culture -- they just want their money Steal this MP3 The people don't want censorship -- by that name or another They don't want their files searched by corporate Big Brother And if it's up to most of us no one would sign your bill Just so Hollywood and Pharma can make another mill So from the Mekong Delta to the Mediterranean Sea Steal this MP3
I grew up in Lawrence, there by the water In the shadow of a textile mill Sometimes I feel just like that building Empty but standing there still I liked the President, I liked the union I believed in the Rights of Man So I signed up when it was time to fight Hitler And they sent me off to Japan I couldn't describe it, it was all just so bad I kept my head down, tried to stay alive I got shot in the leg, took me out of the action So I was lucky enough to survive I came home from the war, met a good woman named Maria We had ourselves a son When I first saw Jim's face, the first thing I thought I hope he never has to carry a gun It was a long time ago, another life that I had A little boy who called me dad I'd have terrible dreams of my time overseas But otherwise life was alright I had a job and a wife and a fine little lad With eyes so cheery and bright When his number came up I said let's move up north To Halifax, what do you say? But my Jim wouldn't have it, he said if I'm gonna be drafted I don't want to run away Chorus After just a few months the letters stopped coming And one morning a knock on the door Two nervous young men handed me a flag Said your son died in the war He gave his life for his country was what the man said He didn't believe it and neither did I I closed the front door, dropped the flag on the floor And I sat down in Jim's room and cried Chorus It was less than a year when my wife said to me You look so much like our little Jim She had to go, I don't blame her, you know I also remind me of him Now it's been forty years, I'd be a grandpa by now But instead I just sit here alone No one calls much these days, but anytime the phone rings I think maybe the boy's coming back home Chorus
It happened again last night, it happens every time I play When the gig is over someone has to say A question that appears to be on everybody's brains As they're driving down the highway in the commuter lanes It sure is not just me, it's the 99% Of artists who are wondering about the thousands they just spent On a CD that will never make it on the air Now all of us are grownups here, we know life isn't fair But the answer to the question is one I'd also like to know Why don't they play you on the radio? Perhaps my songs are too cerebral, they don't make you dance My melodies are boring, there's no Spandex in my pants Maybe it's because I don't use a drum machine Maybe I'm too red or maybe I'm too green Maybe folks just don't want to hear it, they don't want to analyze Anything more complex than the space between your thighs Maybe I should wear more glitter, go to parties in an egg Perhaps I need to go electric or show a bit more leg But it's something I must wonder at the end of every show Why don't they play you on the radio? I'm sure there's an exception to each and every rule But perhaps I'm too political, and not a useful tool To keep the music in the background and the commercials in the fore To keep the shoppers shopping, not protesting the war To keep the lemmings humming the same three hundred songs The songs they play throughout the year, each night and all day long Maybe I just don't make the grade to be one of the chosen few Perhaps there was a sign somewhere and I just missed the cue Or I need to change my name to Bruce or Silvio Why don't they play you on the radio? It could be I just don't have the talent that's involved I'm lacking the commitment, I'm insufficiently resolved Or maybe there just aren't a million people who might buy More records made by some whiny leftwing guy Or maybe they would, but I'm just out of luck Because I don't have a label that can spend a million bucks Because Sony and Clearchannel have taken over everything And you've got to pay the piper if you want to make the piper sing And it's the king who tells the piper where to go Why don't they play you on the radio?


I've collaborated in a big way with a bunch of other musicians so far on several different albums -- Live at Club Passim, the Return, Halliburton Boardroom Massacre, Big Red Sessions, Everything Can Change, and this one, Meanwhile In Afghanistan. Of all of those efforts, this one was that's probably the most punk rock of them, and definitely the one that involved the most input from me as producer, though all of those albums, very much including this one, involved a producer other than me, who had a lot of very valuable input (Billy Oskay in this case).

While we were making this album, it occurred to me that while we were in the studio, on one of the days that it was just me and Billy in there, I'd like to make a good recording of me doing all of the songs solo acoustic. Probably because with all of the agonizing stuff, spending an hour working on a three-second stretch of a vocal part in a song sometimes, it can get to where you feel pretty discombobulated. So we spent a few hours one afternoon recording all the songs with just me and a guitar.

So when you download this album, you'll also be downloading an equal number of bonus tracks, which are the solo acoustic version of the same album.

I'll also note that this album was able to happen because of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and the hundreds of people who donated to it and allowed it to be successful.


released January 5, 2015

Billy Oskay, at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon, and I were co-producers

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Billy Oskay and Jim Cuda

Vocals and acoustic guitar: David Rovics

Lead guitar on "London Is Burning": Tom Morello

All other electric guitar parts: Nick Angelo

Keyboards: Asher Fulero

Drummer and Choir Director: Spank Hopkins

Bass guitar: Mark Kent

Harmony vocals: Kris Deelane, Sarah King, Spank Hopkins, Janice Bradley and friends




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

Singer/songwriter, writer, podcaster (on Spotify, Substack & Patreon), anarchist, dad, lover of life.


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