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

by David Rovics

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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

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


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Track Name: When I'm Elected President
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
Track Name: Statue in the Harbor
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
Track Name: Gentrification Town
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
Track Name: Barbara Lee
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
Track Name: Neither King Nor Kaiser
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
Track Name: Captain Kruger is a Nazi
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
Track Name: 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
Track Name: Terrorist in Chief
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
Track Name: Sometimes I Walk the Aisles
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
Track Name: 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)

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
Track Name: US Embassy
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
Track Name: His Hands Were in the Air
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

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