Ten Thousand Miles Away

by David Rovics

Travelodge 02:09
It was a nice bar But I don’t want to sleep there Like a lump on someone’s Sofa chair So I drive the car To the outskirts of town Travelodge Jewel of the crown There’s a tea pot With sugar and cream There’s towels all folded At the seams The bed don’t squeak And neither does the floor There’s a lock Upon the door It’s like paradise There’s so much we could do It’s got everything a man could want Except for you There’s a shower It’s en suite There’s a nice clean Toilet seat Plenty of room To play guitar There’s a phone, a desk Here we are Except the only pair here Is a single pair of shoes It’s got everything a man could want Except for you Checkout’s tomorrow At eleven You can order breakfast 24/7 There’s your picture Long and lean There upon my Laptop screen And all I can say Is boo hoo hoo ‘Cause it’s got everything a man could want Except for you
In the Name of God I woke up this morning And I turned on the news It was a Sunday morning They were sitting in the pews The doctor's wife was in the choir She was about to sing She saw it all in front of her And she heard that awful ring In the name of God he held his pistol Pointed at the doctor's head In the name of God he pulled the trigger Now the doctor's lying dead Dr. Tiller had a family Three daughters and a son Two girls were both doctors Who were proud of what he'd done They knew someone had to do something Before they left this world behind If it wasn't them then who would serve The cause of womankind Chorus This is not Afghanistan It's the Heartland USA Where a girl has to wonder If she'll get acid in her face Where they bomb the women's clinics Because the preacher told them to Where the man there on the TV Tells them that's what they should do Chorus
From every corner of the world They came from all around When in 1851 They struck gold upon the ground Every voyage was a long one Months upon the stormy sea Some to seek their fortune Others escaping slavery What they found on the goldfields Was rule by brutish thugs Discrimination and taxation Mixed with swinging billy clubs The gold was getting scarcer And cops were getting worse The diggers burned their licenses And vowed to end this curse They swore an oath Beneath the Southern Cross That they would stand together And break the license laws From twenty different nations They gathered here as one In Ballarat Beneath the southern sun The crown tried to divide them Giving preference to some The diggers wouldn't have it They said it's all of us or none They built a stockade While the Redcoats massed nearby And they heard the miners shouting We are ready now to die The rebel miners waited For whatever lay in store And on one December morning In 1854 The Redcoats attacked the camp Dozens there would fall Among these brave gold diggers Who had risen to the call Chorus The Army thought that it was over And things now would go their way But when fifteen thousand miners rallied A month later on the day The Crown conceded everything All of their demands They'd won an end to license fees The right to vote and land So here's to Joe and Charley Lalor and the rest They drew the battle lines And put Crown rule to the test The diggers may have lost the battle But they quickly won the day And those shots fired in Victoria Were heard ten thousand miles away Chorus
Brad 03:16
I remember when we met Surrounded by police It was the one block in the city Where protest was allowed And they were there to keep the peace You said hey my name is Brad And I think we surely will Mess up these meetings These people will remember us In this city on the hill I’d see you at the rallies Guitar on your knee The calm inside the storm From Prague to San Francisco Miami to DC We traveled on the same roads You were everywhere With a smile on your face In the redwood forests Or the streets of Tompkins Square I’ll go down to the water And with the morning dew I will watch the sun rise And I’ll smoke this joint for you I can see you on a bicycle Reclaiming the street Digging up the asphalt To plant a bandit garden And grow some food to eat I got an email from Quito You said you’ve got to see this place Everyone is rising up Come and see the future Of this lovely human race Chorus The last time that I saw you It was in New York town Sitting on a rooftop Talking about relationships And how to live them down I heard you went down to Oaxaca To join the battle that was there I saw your picture in the paper With a bullet in your chest In your eyes a distant stare Chorus
There’s an upright piano and the church where it was played I can still hear the fire of the music that they made These wild priests of Coltrane as high as you could get Now their picture’s in the water with a broken clarinet And the bodies floating down the river There’s the very heart of harmony, a diminished minor chord A demitasse of Cafe du Monde into which a poet poured From a melior of coffee, freshly brewed and filled I saw his notebook passing by and the coffee that he spilled And the bodies floating down the river There’s a cracked and sunken altar and Jesus on a cross And hanging from a pole, the soiled work of Betsy Ross The sidewalk muralist is shouting, people can you see All the broken promises of Lady Liberty And the bodies floating down the river There’s the ghost of Lincoln lying in the mud Mother Mary’s playing Zydeco and shedding tears of blood The last vestige of democracy was just shot for looting bread The levees were all busted, now they’re good as dead Along with the bodies floating down the river There’s a Hummer driving down the boulevard There’s Halliburton contractors and the Army National Guard Blackwater Security, ready to attack There’s no food and there’s no doctors and it smells just like Iraq And the bodies floating down the river The prisons are all empty now, the dead men have been cleared They drowned inside their cells when the guards all disappeared But I saw somebody’s uniform as it was passing by Words on it spelled in blood, I guess now we’re gonna die And the bodies floating down the river Now many months have passed and it all just looks the same So many dead and missing, no one knows their names No one to clear the rubble, no one to rebuild Some say the city died, I say it was killed And the bodies floating down the river
The city seems so small But the sidewalk seems so wide And the buildings seem so far away Even once I go inside My friend, his lips are moving I guess he’s talking to me But your words are echoing through my head Your face is all I see Now that you’re gone The walls all seem so empty now Like a movie screen Playing over and over That awful scene Of you walking through security With your lips all trembling Now you’re on the other side And I can’t do a thing Now that you’re gone Now this city is full of ghosts And they all look like you They say all the things you say And do everything you do Some of them are naked looking At me from the second floor And I think I’ll find you when I come home But you’re never at the door Now that you’re gone
I was raised in Massachusetts On the farm where I was born From the time I was a young lad To the fields I was sworn Before our corn could go to market It was stolen from the mill And sent to Mother England From here in the Berkshire hills So when I heard there'd be a rising I put on a uniform Slept barefoot in the mud Beneath the thunder storms In war there is no glory Just friends and comrades killed Shattered lives and broken homes Here in the Berkshire hills Then began the nightmare All over once again The revolution's debtor's prisons Filled with good upstanding men We said to hell with King John Adams Of this farce we'd had our fill And we set our sights on liberty Here in the Berkshire hills Their courts they couldn't function Their judges on the run Each new day we had our farms Was a victory we'd won For years we ruled our land Stood our ground until We made our last stand by Great Barrington Here in the Berkshire hills My name is Daniel Shays And I'm speaking to you now If I fought a revolution Maybe you can tell me how I was born a poor man And I'm a poor man still Bury me beneath the hemlock Here in the Berkshire hills
Atif and Sebastian lived in Vancouver That's where they were from Atif's family moved to the USA And Sebastian thought he'd come They both went off to college Atif to Cornell What would happen at the end of his freshman year Who on Earth could foretell Atif and Sebastian went to a movie And to get some food to eat Then they drove back home To that suburban Bellevue street Inside what they saw Was far too much to understand That such acts could be carried out By a human hand Atif's parents had been bludgeoned Blood and brains were everywhere And beneath the shawl Upon his mother's matted hair They asked the skies above How could such a thing be done Then the two boys picked up the phone And they called 9-1-1 Atif's father he had enemies Who wanted him dead it seems But from the time the cops arrived Upon this gruesome scene The only suspects they considered Were Sebastian and Atif They questioned them for days Amidst their shock and disbelief Without a bit of evidence They blamed them for this crime Though there were witnesses to prove They were elsewhere at the time They had gone across the bridge To Seattle's downtown core And someone else's DNA Was found amidst the blood upon the floor Whose DNA was that? The Bellevue cops just didn't care Though Atif's father's friend would soon Have his awful fate to share Just like Atif's dad He had a contract on his head And a few scant years later He also turned up dead The cops didn't have the evidence So they wiretapped a session With undercover thugs To scare up a confession The stories didn't match up The kids were terrified, they lied So the cops just changed their story To make it match the way the family died The judge and prosecution Just like the cops, they had no shame And entrapment and coercion Was the name of this railroad game The trial was a sham And the jury took the bait And now Atif and Sebastian Are living out their fate Serving up their lives In maximum security While the real killers Are somewhere running free Some might call this justice I don't know about you I call it putting innocent men in prison For a crime they didn't do
Let me tell you the story of a hundred ships Traversing the great big sea Moving the riches of the world in large ships Owned by the captains of industry They were heading to places like Amsterdam London and LA But they had to change their plans a bit When they were held up on the wa - ay Here's to the pirates of Somalia Sailing the ocean blue Here's to the pirates of Somalia I'll raise the Jolly Roger to you Harardhere is a town of fishermen Living lives of hardship and toil But today they had a really good catch Two million barrels of oil They travel with the Pirate's Handbook Doing what's just and fair Taxing the robber barons And taking their rightful share Chorus There are those who don't like pirates But I think they're just great I only wish that I could shake their hands And say "good job, mate!" I only wish I could join them on the seas Bring those tankers to bay Tax those corporations And give the loot away Chorus
Lebanon 2006 02:23
Two soldiers had been captured They’d crossed to the other side Two soldiers taken prisoner Several others died This is how it started So said the Jewish state Forget about ’96, ‘82, ’67, ‘48 Two soldiers taken hostage And by the Sea of Galilee We must defend our borders Wherever they may be We must defend our soldiers Wherever they’re deployed Two of them are captured One country is destroyed Somewhere in Tel Aviv Generals drawing battle lines For the town where Jesus Turned water into wine On the ten-year anniversary Of a massacre of children They thought it was a good idea To massacre some children Anyone in the south I heard Ehud Olmert say Everyone’s a target And may be killed today And if your home has turned to rubble It may be pulverized some more ‘Cause two soldiers have been captured And we gotta settle up the score A hundred thousand homes Leveled to the ground Every olive branch on offer Burned where it was found Every chance at dialogue Rejected right on cue If you’re gonna burn your bridges You might as well bomb them too They even bombed the prison Where they used to torture fighters Where they had the dogs and leashes Cigarettes and lighters Where they were kept shackled Not allowed to stand Where they torched the forests Turned them into sand And the entire world watches A few thousand demonstrate Governments take action All too little or too late All the telephones are ringing In case you couldn’t read the signs This is the IDF And you’re in the firing line Condoleeza came to visit For about an hour She thought it was a party Some kind of baby shower She said these were the birth pangs Of a brand new morn But in the hospitals today All the babies were stillborn The stars and stripes among the ruins Say where they were made In case anybody wonders About all that military aid In case anybody wonders About the mines around the farms Or why so many toddlers Are missing legs and arms Or why so many of them ask Exactly what was meant By wiping out their homes And then sending them a tent Or why if you ask them Who is Nasrallah They’ll tell you he’s our leader And we all are Hezbollah
John Brown 04:05
Owen Brown was an abolitionist John was Owen's son He grew up in New England He was born in Torrington John Brown was a tanner And a man of many skills And he stood up for the workers Who toiled in the mills He stood up for the Indians He stood up for the women For the oppressed and the exploited This good man stood with them So when Kansas was bleeding He went and joined the fray If the slave-trade wanted Kansas Then the slave traders had to pay Riding through the Kansas prairie With a fine and loyal band Glory, Hallelujah Beecher's Bible in his hand With two thousand of New England's Best and bravest sons Captain Brown fought in Kansas With a Bible and a gun When Free Lawrence was on fire Lighting up the night The ruffians would flee John Brown would stand and fight Lincoln called him a fanatic And he was a Christian who Thought you should do unto others As you'd have others do unto you Christ said love your neighbor And if your neighbor's held in slavery He was one who felt his duty Was to fight to set them free Chorus He drove the slave trade out of Kansas Then went to bordering Missouri Raided the plantations No compromise, said he Broke the chains and shackles Rode at night to Canada Out of the nightmare The devil's friend, America He was caught in Harper's Ferry His family lying dead They questioned him for hours As he lay there and bled They hanged him on the gallows And laid him in his grave John Brown was a Christian And he died to free the slave Chorus
Luis Posada 01:31
Luis Posada lived in Havana There amongst the gentry With the doctors and lawyers and mafia bosses He thought it was his country When the revolution came he left Just ninety miles away Then he signed up for a course At the SOA Luis Posada left Fort Benning A lieutenant working for the CIA A long career of death and murder Began on that day He planted bombs in Cuban cafes To strike fear within the hearts Of the Cuban people And he directed every part And now he is a free man in Miami Luis Posada hired hitmen To plant bombs inside a plane Seventy-three people Died in a blood-red rain He ran guns and drugs for the Contras And there he trained a terror cell To wreak havoc on their homeland And of course to kill Fidel And now he is a free man in Miami Luis Posada went to prison He was caught with thirty pounds Of C4 explosives He was gonna bring a building down He could have killed two thousand That night in Panama But Bush said hand him over We want him in Florida And now he is a free man in Miami Luis Posada is a free man Not so the Cuban Five Who agreed to leave their homeland To allow it to survive Undercover in south Florida They were the eyes and ears For fighting terrorism They’re serving twenty years While Posada is a free man in Miami
Guanajuato 03:41
I was raised in Guanajuato That's where I was born For a thousand years that's where My family grew the corn Farming's what we lived by And farming's all we knew Then the government signed Nafta And our farming days were through I had to leave the village There was no other way I had to find work somewhere Or starve if i should stay In Ciudad de Mexico I tried to survive But the colonias were full And there was no work to stay alive I went to Tijuana The maquila factories Saw people living by the sewage Dying on their knees It was then in desperation I knew I had to go Leave the country I was born in The only one I know Cross the unknown deserts To the other side Around the wall that stretches on A hundred miles wide I trudged on for days Don't know how far I got But I never knew in all my life The sun could be so hot My feet had turned to blisters My water bag run dry I thought about mi madrecita As I looked up at the sky I lay down for the last time Parched upon the ground Maybe someday My body will be found Eaten by the vultures Bones bleached in the sun Maybe I'll go to heaven If there is one And I guess someone in California Who wants to make their fields green Is gonna have to find another Mexican To keep their dishes clean
Free 01:31
I grew up in the land of houses in rows I had asthma, that's how it goes When you're in LA and there are cars everywhere See the sky and smell the air I left home, looked around Trying to find some solid ground I found life in the northern wood And I knew that this was good I saw the dozers, the death machines Tearing apart everything green I built a platform, sat in a tree Said if you're taking her down, then you're taking down me I saw the highways, I saw the mall I saw the eagle, heard the clarion call Voices of reason were talking to me So I burned down a couple of SUV's Among the words and the deeds in the war for the west A chapter was written and I was the test To shut us all up and drive us apart All who have life and love in our hearts The judge did the math then he did some more He was a man out to settle a score An illegal sentence in a stolen land With life or death in the palm of his hand And now here I am, so long behind bars For trying to breath in a nation of cars Sanity jailed and madness in power Our time it is short and now is the hour So may you hide in the darkness and stay safe in the night Find whatever you need to stay in the fight There's a planet at stake and that's all that I see And my thoughts will be with you until I am free
I grew up on this mountain Came back here to dwell Maybe have a family Plant some corn and dig a well I was all done with the Army Back from Vietnam Where I learned how to shoot a rifle And how to set a bomb I grew up on this mountain It's in my very soul So when the company moved next door Started digging for the coal Tearing up the mountain With drillers and draglines I knew then what needed To happen to those mines 10, 9, 8 Sometimes that's just how it goes 3, 2, 1 Get out before it blows The guard, he was sleeping On duty thru the night I stepped gently on the ground And stayed well out of sight I tied sticks to the equipment Switched the timer on Then I knew that in ten seconds These dozers would be gone Chorus I had to leave the mountain I headed to the west The cops were on my trail And I figured it was best And I figured I did my small part To make the world free In my humble manner In East Tennessee Chorus
I Know A Man 02:28
I know a man He has brown eyes Most mornings he gets up Around sunrise He likes to put butter On just about everything He likes to walk in the park Listen to the birds sing I know a man He has two gorgeous kids He likes to take them on trips Like his father did At the end of the day They all come over to my place Where we talk about school And what happened on MySpace I know a man He plays basketball He's about five feet Ten inches tall He tries to grow flowers They usually don't bloom He's got a picture of Elvis On the door to his room I know a man He thinks life is good And everything will be fine As he knows that it should And the eyes of the people And the eyes of the law Would soon be open To the things that he saw I know a man With a beautiful family Who knows that someday Right here in this society We'll all walk taller And fences will mend When I can say proudly This is my husband
Santiago 02:55
As I looked out my window At the clear blue sky At the planes that flew so low At the smoke that rose so high The air filled up with dust That blackened out the sun And the politicians went on About the new day that had begun And when I looked at my calendar Somehow I knew it would be so It was on this day in Santiago Less than thirty years had passed And how clearly I remember What the city had been like Before that day in September There were doctors on the sidewalks Helping those in need Students in the barrios Teaching children how to read There were milk trucks in the shanties Driving to and fro It was on this day in Santiago I could tell you about the rallies The whole city in the street The President was speaking And we all were on our feet Allende was the future Destitution was the past The city was in motion And things were changing fast Just how fast they were changing Only Kissinger could know It was on this day in Santiago Anaconda Copper And Nixon got their dream A country torn apart Ruptured at the seam A fascist coup was what they wanted And that’s just what they’d get When they sent down from Fort Benning General Pinochet Lady Liberty Hung her head down low It was on this day in Santiago They dropped bombs on La Moneda With jet planes from DC They killed five thousand people In our city by the sea A reign of terror started When they cut off Victor’s hands The rivers clogged with bodies And our blood drenched the sands And I remember wondering Which way future winds might blow It was on this day in Santiago
He grew up in Yorkshire County On the class war battle lines From the age of 14 years He was working in the mines He saw the children dying Of hunger and disease His family was evicted And he headed overseas Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Was where he landed for a while Then he hopped a freight For about three thousand miles Ended up out west By Nanaimo Bay Where he worked the Number Five pit And spent his final days Let's remember the departed And for us the things they gave As we're gathered here By Ginger Goodwin's grave As we're gathered here By Ginger Goodwin's grave In England and in Canada From the east out to the west The miners lived and died At capital's behest Ginger saw the writing That was covering the wall One Big Union was the watchword For the workers one and all Ginger organized the miners And they struck for better pay And they struck the Dunsmuir Colleries And fought to see the day When the labor movement Could say its work was done With a world run by workers For the good of everyone Chorus When the “War to End All Wars” came He knew it was a lie He said he wouldn't fight for the bosses He wouldn't kill or die He had blacklung from the mines But they called him fit to go So he hid out in the mountains Out in the rain and snow The cop who went to find him This is what he said “I'm gonna bring him in Whether that's alive or dead” The people gained a martyr Who would never leave our side And ten thousand workers marched When they heard that Ginger died Chorus
When I come to central Texas And I’m amid the shrubs and stone And I’m driving down the highway And I’m driving on my own It makes me think about a friend Who I knew not long ago Who lived beneath the moonlight On a ranch called Armadillo When I’m cruising through the desert On this road that loves my car It makes me think of wild roses And a beat up old guitar It makes me think of how I’d stop there On my way on through And hang with the deadhead boxcar The lonely railroad tracks and you Sometimes love hurts, Al Other times it kills An Alberta boy who fell in love With the Texas hills We’d reminisce of friends That we both knew somewhere You’d tell me of a woman With flowers in her hair We’d swap songs and stories That happened since last year The ones you always liked the best Was when we all ended up in tears Chorus You still had the sneakers Though you’d given up the wine You found a trailer by the highway That treated you just fine Where you could write the finest lines About whoever took your heart Flew it to the clouds And ripped it all apart Chorus
I walk down the sidewalk Beside Powell Boulevard Past the men with 40 ouncers Passed out in the yard There's a boy of seven years Gazing at the sky With dreams of far-off places Wishing he could fly Away to join his father Wherever he may be They say he went back east Somewhere near New York City And I think that I'm the luckiest guy On this planet so it seems The luckiest guy In a world of broken dreams I heard a busker busking About all kinds of mournful things About a woman who had left him With two broken wedding rings I sat beside a man Heading home from far away He was talking on his phone And wishing for the day That he'd once more see his lover Who he left so far behind A life lived in the distance Was always on his mind Chorus 'Cause when I walk thru the door There's a girl in front of me Her eyes are full of wonder It's a wonder just to be There's soup upon the table There's rice inside a bowl There's a magic lady With hair as black as coal She asks me how I'm doing She says she is alright She smiles and she asks me What I'd like to do tonight Chorus


I spent one day at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon, recording songs and poems, solo acoustic.


released January 25, 2015

Billy Oskay was engineering and co-producing with me.




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

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


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