When I'm Elected President & Wayfaring Stranger (double album)

by David Rovics

When I'm Elected President When I'm elected President the first thing that I'll do Nationalize all the banks and give all the money to you Raise taxes on the rich until there are no rich any more My government's first priority will be to win the class war When I'm elected President I'll make housing a human right With the Party in control of the Congress that won't be a difficult fight Folks can move out from under the bridges into the vacation homes of the gentry There will be no hungry children, not in my 21st century When I'm elected President we will modernize the country Solar panels on every rooftop, windmills in every county Flat Earth Society members will have to see that the world is round Coal, oil, uranium will all have to stay underground When I'm elected President drug prohibition will end The livelihood of towns no longer will depend On jailing millions for the crime of getting high On imprisoning the poor for trying to get by When I'm elected President we'll use old tanks for flowerpots Turn West Point into a garden, we'll call it an anarchist plot We'll bring all the soldiers home, put them to work building railways The pace of my government's transition plan will inspire and amaze When I'm elected President we'll turn the country on its face When my government gets going you won't recognize the place Ecotopian equality, we start building in November When Election Day comes around, you just remember When I'm elected President
Statue in the Harbor Give us your huddled masses yearning to be free That's what it says on the Statue of Liberty And here they come, from the other side Across the southern border, across the great divide And now they're told that they should go away But the statue in the harbor says “stay” Give us your cold and hungry, let them come by land or sea Let them all find solace in this land of refugees Escaping persecution, just trying to survive And they worked as hard as Guatemalans as soon as their ships arrived Give us your persecuted, but only if they're white It doesn't say that on the statue that holds aloft the light What did you think would happen in the lands you overthrew Where should all the children go after the coup
Gentrification Town I've moved out of three cities 'cause I couldn't pay the rent Folks like me weren't welcome so I packed it up and went It's always the same story, I find a place I wanna be And soon enough I'm joined by all the other refugees Then watch the websites warble, this is the hippest place to hang Hey check out Division, it's the sweetest thing since Tang Then watch the millionaires come in and build a luxury hotel Sipping coffee on the sidewalk, saying isn't this place swell Rents are going up and the neighborhood's going down Here in Gentrification Town See the families leave the city, watch how they accept their fate Except the ones who had the timing right and bought some real estate The ones who had the timing and the ones who had the credit The ones who paid attention to whoever it was who said it This is a nation that won't suffer utopians or fools He who has the gold rules He who has the gold, he who bought the stock He who is the landlord who owns your block They say you can't blame the yuppies, they're just responding to the will Of the market and the strength of the US dollar bill But the dollar's only strong if you have some to your name Otherwise you're on the business end of the game The end that just stays home 'cause they can't afford the show The end that has to pack their things and find a place to go The new hip place to be, for a little while, then The wrecking balls move in and chase us out again
Barbara Lee 03:12
Barbara Lee She grew up in Texas on a military base As a teen in California she found her place Standing up with those who had got the shorter straw Speaking out for justice on both sides of the law She came to my attention in 1998 When she was elected and she joined the ship of state But it was in her second term when she really made the news As the sole dissenter, the only one to refuse Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee Let me take this chance to thank you for your humanity Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee The month was September, 2001 It was time to show the world these colors don't run Flags of war were waving from New York to LA From Shanksville to the Pentagon they chanted “USA” Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee Surrounded by such darkness, but still able to see Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee The vote came to the Congress to give the president the right To bomb and to invade any nation in his sights To kill in any country where his generals want to go 500 voted yes, one woman voted no Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee A few hundred more like you, what a nation it could be Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee, Barbara Lee There among the madmen of Washington DC
Neither King Nor Kaiser A hundred years ago today the arms race was at an end If there was a soul alive who could begin to comprehend The suffering to follow, the hell that would transpire When the soldiers were lined up and the men began to fire A hundred years ago today, all around the world There were hordes of marching men with flags of empire unfurled And then there was the opposition who wouldn't stay on bended knee Who said we'll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country A hundred years ago today the streets were filled to burst With millions of people who said they had no thirst For the blood of other workers who lived across the sea They said we'll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country A hundred years ago today referendums were ignored Democracy was something no empire could afford Sedition laws were passed and they filled the penitentiaries We'll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country A hundred years ago today the executions were at dawn Bomb blasts filled the air, the battle lines were drawn The muddy fields were all red, a voice echoed amid the bodies We'll fight for neither king nor kaiser, neither God nor country
Captain Kruger is a Nazi The far right has many members in the ranks of the police This is undoubtedly true from the USA to Greece Among the most notable cases is the PPB Who kill more black men per capita than any department in the country But the leader of the Vice Squad deserves a special mention Even among his fellow cops he's caused a bit of tension If he could choose his weapon it would surely be a Luger I'm talking about a marksman by the name of Captain Kruger No it's not just about the lawsuit back in 2003 That he attacked peaceful protesters with thug brutality It's not just about his colleague who got tired of his shit After years of him harassing her he got promoted and she quit I mean that stuff doesn't help, but what really makes the case Is how he commemorated members of the so-called Master Race About his political proclivities there's been no need for us to guess Since he put up a plaque in honor of the Waffen SS You can say that it's just speech, you can say that speech is free But Captain Kruger is a Nazi He put up a plaque though he says that's not what he meant But I'm not sure what other messages get sent When you memorialize a man for whom mass murder was a game Who had thousands of non-Aryans killed in his name Kruger sued the city and the Nazi won Lots of money, an apology, the right to keep his badge and gun But it wasn't only that – he got promoted, too Hey, no problem, if you want to gas blacks and gays and Jews The mayor says he's sorry that he didn't read The settlement he signed, but now he's done the deed The mayor says he's sorry – here, have a lane for your bike Now can we stop complaining about Mr. Third Reich And please don't call the cop a fascist – he's sensitive about that Just ignore the Swastika on his Nazi hat Just ignore the Swastika, he's not doing too much harm Just tell us if he starts tattooing any numbers on your arm
Gaza 02:13
Gaza One point eight million people surrounded on all sides Refugees since '48, since '67, occupied The only reason they're not starving is down to the UN Most have never left there, stuck in the lion's den The most crowded place on Earth, and there they'll stay They can't visit friends or cousins a half hour's drive away Drones overhead constantly Who will die tomorrow, a daily mystery In Gaza The settlers moved out, fighter jets moved in In Gaza there's just no way you can win You can't take out a copter with an antiquated gun You're just a target sitting in the sun Waiting for your death to come raining from the sky Where the end really is nigh You can hear a sonic boom and see a flashing light Every hour of the day, every hour of the night In Gaza There are no shelters, nowhere you can hide Life is nothing like it is on the other side There's nothing post about the traumatic stress There's never more, usually less And still some people wonder, they insist on asking why Anyone would be so mad as to reply So mad as to think that it might make sense To lob some missiles over the fence From Gaza
Terrorist In Chief It's September 11th and Obama gave a speech On the War on Terror and its mighty reach The arm of the law is long and victory will be ours As long as we cooperate with certain powers Such as the ones who funded the Islamic State The Saudis are our allies, of this there's no debate The misogynist king will bring us some relief From the Caliphate – so said the Terrorist-In-Chief It's September 11th, listen to the man Talk about successes in Afghanistan Still the world's poorest country, still beneath the yoke Of the very terrorists whose back he claimed we broke Now we're at war with IS in Syria and Iraq Though we can't support the main army that's fighting back They're terrorists too, though with a secular belief So down with Asad! So said the Terrorist-In-Chief It's September 11th and there's someone on the screen I'm still trying to figure out what he means The Peshmerga are ours now, we give them air support While just across the border, lives cut short By our Turkish allies, also in this fight As they kill our infantry when they have them in their sights There are some things not worth mentioning, he's got to keep it brief So said the Terrorist-In-Chief It's September 11th and I'm hearing every sound 3,200 boots, but they don't really touch the ground And all the mercenaries, they don't really count These details don't matter when there's a campaign to mount Just listen closely, the White House has it sussed We'll protect those refugees, these oil cans won't rust No, not Honduran kids – Yazidi ones, good grief So said the Terrorist-In-Chief
Sometimes I Walk the Aisles Sometimes I walk the aisles of the grocery store And I think about a day some 20 years before Where this chicken came from, south of the Mason Dixon Line The Imperial Foods factory in Hamlet, Caroline The third day of September, 1991 Where for so many good people was the day their race was run Sometimes I walk the aisles and I can hear the screams Of those blasted by hot oil when old hose ruptured at the seams Of those blasted by hot oil when the fireball arose While more oil fueled the fire being blasted from the hose More oil fueled the fire, the room filled up with black smoke When those who weren't already dead then began to choke Sometimes I walk the aisles, I think about the padlocks On the fire doors, barred and blocked The owner didn't want his workers stealing chickens out the back It's a “right to work” state – they complain, they get the sack So Tyson saved some money and workers lost their lives Once the fire was put out the number dead was 25 Sometimes I walk the aisles and somehow feel ashamed 11 years of operation, inspectors never came Inspectors never came, never came to look To see if they did anything according to the book Sometimes I walk the aisles and I wonder to myself How many people died to put these nuggets on the shelf
15 02:01
15 As I was being arrested A reporter stuck a mike in my face I said the first few words that came to mind If there's hope for the human race (then we need) 15 dollars an hour (3x) 15! They say this is a democracy But there's none of that on the job Just a company making billions While the rest of us get robbed There's so much crime in the city It fills my heart with rage Especially the crime of the billionaires Who would pay such a criminal wage I took a red-eye to California Landed at LAX Well-paid workers looked me in the eye Said it's really not complex The company says the union Just wants to get your dues They should try making that argumen With someone who has something to lose
US Embassy 02:13
US Embassy There was a coup in Guatemala, the CIA sent planes To assist the Guatemalan generals in tightening the chains Two hundred thousand Indians killed in thirty years As butchers of their people, the generals have no peers Where did they get their guns up to this very day From the men of the CIA There was a coup in Chile 'cause the US couldn't stand A democratic government that might give a helping hand So the generals took over after they had made a pact With their friends in Washington, and that's a simple fact This is what we look like when you scratch away the fuzz This is what America does But there's never been a coup in Washington, DC Because we don't have a US embassy There was a coup in Haiti that overthrew the priest Who was representing those who had the very least They were almost self-sufficient, standing on their feet When the generals insisted on democracy's defeat The CIA headed south and the lifeboats sallied forth This is why the refugees go north There was a coup in Tegucigalpa, I promise I'm not lying As a consequence of this people are leaving and dying Gunning down democracy is the USA's MO It could be called Hypocrisy if it were a TV show But this is not a fiction, these are bodies full of lead And thousands of refugees dead
His Hands Were In The Air The town is mostly black, almost all the cops are white You can see it right away, something isn't right There's no funding for the schools and they're being shut down The powers that be don't give a shit about the town They were walking in the street, it's the safest place to be In case someone comes shooting, you got a better view to see They were walking in the street, they weren't hurting anyone Then came a white man with a badge and a gun His hands were in the air (4x) “Get the fuck on the sidewalk,” that's what the cop said He cut them off in his car, fat face, blood red The cop says he was attacked, and from a cursory check It seems his fingers were assaulted by Michael Brown's neck There were witnesses who saw it, it was recorded on a phone But the police couldn't handle the light that would've shone She was forced to hand it over so they could try to hide away A racist execution in the middle of the day He had just finished high school and was off to college next Instead he was shot and killed with no pretext The media joined in, called the community a mob A cop called them animals while Michael's mother sobbed


This double album is a fundraiser for my possible independent write-in campaign for the US presidency. If I get enough support, I'll run.

The first album, When I'm Elected President (the one you see on the screen in front of you), is a collection of 12 songs I wrote between July and November, 2014. You can stream the album for free, or download it for a donation of $5+.

Only if you download (as opposed to stream) the album, you'll find 10 bonus tracks -- an album in itself. That is Wayfaring Stranger, an album made up of some of my favorite songs written by other people.

Subscribers get downloads of all of my stuff for free -- go to davidrovics.com and click the "subscribe" button!

Liner notes for Wayfaring Stranger:

Who's the Criminal Here?
Ted Warmbrand

There are many contemporary songwriters writing brilliant stuff, whose songs I could have covered on this album. Two of my favorites are Jim Page of Seattle and Robb Johnson from England. I feel like I have nothing to add in terms of interpreting their songs. This song by Ted Warmbrand, though, is so haunting in its simplicity, and I felt like I had a somewhat different way of interpreting it that was worth putting out there. The effect on the guitar was Billy Oskay's idea, as with the effects on all of these songs, and really contributes a lot, I think.

Wayfaring Stranger
Author Unknown

One of the most hauntingly beautiful gospel songs ever to come out of Appalachia, that I fell in love with a long time ago.

Bella Ciao
Author Unknown

I believe I first heard this WWII-era Italian anti-fascist song during my first extended trip to Germany, hanging around the German left in Hamburg and elsewhere. The best version of it, in my opinion, would have to be the well-known leftwing Italian band, the Modena City Ramblers. But I had to do it, too. Apologies for my awful Italian.

Leonard Cohen

I liked Leonard Cohen's earlier stuff OK, but when he recorded the albums I'm Your Man and the Future, he was in his prime as a songwriter. "Hallelujah" is one of many brilliant songs he wrote, and has the sort of melody that is just such a pleasure to sing.

The Workers' Song
Ed Pickford

The great Scottish musician, Dick Gaughan, recorded this song, and rendered it brilliantly, along with many other songs by little-known writers. This was one of my favorites I learned from listening to his recordings. It was also through Dick Gaughan that I first consciously discovered the glory of open tunings, though it wasn't until many years later that I started doing most everything in DADGAD myself.

We Have Fed You All for A Thousand Years
Author Unknown

Through the recordings and concerts of Utah Phillips, I first discovered the music of the IWW, back in the 80's. Utah was a great songwriter himself, but also gave new life to old IWW songs like this one, from around 1917 I believe.

Solidarity Forever
Ralph Chaplin

Ralph Chaplin was not only chairman of the Industrial Workers of the World, but also a talented songwriter. This lyric of his, based on a well-known melody, became the most well-known song of the US labor movement for many decades.

Playa Giron
Silvio Rodriguez

I remember the first time I heard Silvio Rodriguez. It was on a record in a Mexican woman's house in Olympia, Washington. I don't remember her name offhand, but I sure remember the music, the voice, the melodies, and the woman's passionate efforts to translate Silvio's poetic lyrics so I could understand this music that had so deeply affected the lives of millions of people throughout the Spanish-speaking world. I fell in love with his music from then on, and this song always stuck with me in particular.

Lakes of Pontchartrain
Author Unknown

I first heard this gorgeous love song from Jim Page singing it in a show in Seattle back in the 80's. Much later I heard Paul Brady and Andy Irvine doing the song, and I figured out a nice DADGAD version of the song based on their version of this old song of unknown origin, thought to be from somewhere in the southern United States.

When I'm Gone
Phil Ochs

In my twenties I learned most of the songs Phil Ochs ever wrote, and sang many of them in the Boston subways for passersby as a professional busker. I could happily do a whole album of Phil Ochs songs. But I figured if I were to just include one, this would it.


released November 28, 2014

Recorded by Billy Oskay at Big Red Studio in Corbett, Oregon in November, 2014.




David Rovics Portland, Oregon

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


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