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 19 David Rovics releases available on Bandcamp and save 50%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Historic Times, Live in Houston, Ballad of a Wobbly, Live in Rostrevor, Punk Baroque, Letter to My Landlord, 1939, The Other Side, and 11 more. , and , .

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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

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


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Track Name: Breivik
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
Track Name: Holy Land 5
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


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

Track Name: Israeli Geography 101
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)
Track Name: London is Burning
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


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

Track Name: Adelaide
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
Track Name: Syrian Princess
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


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


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

Track Name: Meanwhile In Afghanistan
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


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


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

Track Name: Watch Out for the Cops
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)
Track Name: If Only It Were True
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


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

Track Name: Steal This MP3
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
Track Name: He Called Me Dad
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


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


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

Track Name: Why Don't They Play You on the Radio
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?

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