Ten Thousand Miles Away

by David Rovics

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about

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

credits

released January 25, 2015

Billy Oskay was engineering and co-producing with me.

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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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Track Name: Travelodge
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
Track Name: In the Name of God
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
Track Name: Song for the Eureka Stockade
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
Track Name: Brad
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
Track Name: Floating Down the River
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
Track Name: Now That You're Gone
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
Track Name: Berkshire Hills
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
Track Name: Atif and Sebastian
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
Track Name: Pirates of Somalia
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
Track Name: Lebanon 2006
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
Track Name: John Brown
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
Track Name: Luis Posada
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
Track Name: Guanajuato
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
Track Name: Free
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
Track Name: East Tennessee
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
Track Name: I Know A Man
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
Track Name: Santiago
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
Track Name: Song for Ginger Goodwin
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
Track Name: Song for Al Grierson
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
Track Name: World of Broken Dreams
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