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"the Occupation Song"...


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I might have broken a writers’ block, finally—and I have the writers’ group to thank for that. It was Bobbi, one of our poets, who came up with the idea of a “Complaint Choir” (envision a gaggle of folks dressed as faux Victorian Christmas carolers, descending upon various places to deliver off-the-wall “carols” about current events) and suggested we all come up with “carols” to sing. (“We all” has only been three, lately. Participation has been just a bit short of abysmal.)

So I did a “complaint carol,” myself, just a couple of hours before our meeting Tuesday night. Found I could write it down from memory the next morning (that’s important—if I can’t remember it, I assume it wasn’t worth remembering), and it’s been sent off for peer review at Just Plain Folks.

“The Occupation Song” (tentative title) was triggered by a poster somebody’d sent from the Occupy Portland protests that said (roughly) “Occupy Your Library—You Might Learn Something.” The song just takes that to its logical, over-the-cliff conclusion—with caustic little side references to not having a job, or a home, or any money. Yes, it’s a political song—though it’s one the political hardliners would be unlikely to be interested in because of its tongue-in-cheekiness. They’d probably think I was making fun of them (which I might be).

It’s probably a throwaway—but I am happy that it came together fast, and structurally is okay, and I’m relatively happy with it. And the words make sense—unlike the “Samba with the Llamas” song, which still isn’t finished. The music (ragtime) pretty much parallels my own “21 Steamer Drive,” but I think I can make it sound different by switching keys and giving it more of a rock rhythm, like Deathgrass does to Coleman and Lazzerini’s “So 20th Century,” which is also ragtime. I’m ready to try it out on a live audience somewhere.

I find myself always asking “What can I do with this?” Songs rarely stand on their own; if they’re not to fade off into obscurity, one has to do something with them. Well, this is a protest song, and protest songs are supposed to be performed; I can do that, but I kinda do that a lot anyway. It would be fun to put together a real, live Complaint Choir to make the rounds in Victorian costume, caroling this and a few others (Bobbi’s carol, about Rockaway Beach, would be a great inclusion, too); I don’t know if I know that many performers who are inclined to be that outrageous. I’ll ask a few folks I know, though, and mention the idea both at the Rapture Room and at the Open Mike November 5 at the Arts Center. A Christmas show, perhaps? We’d need about an hour’s worth of these to pull that off.

Of course I’ll record the song; I always record my stuff, if for no other reason than to preserve it for posterity, so they can enjoy my posthumous fame and fortune should that ever happen. It would be fun to record professionally a whole album of this protest stuff, and have it out just in time for Christmas (no, I do not know where the money to do that would come from). Yes, I already have a design for the album cover—graphic artist, remember? And if one is going to record, one should on principle do a video too.

Slow week for music coming up: I’ll get to play at the Tsunami Grill in Wheeler Thursday night, but there’s no music Saturday (I’ll be at a square dance in Woodburn anyway) and Sunday night I may be trying out for a part in a production of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap instead of going to the Rapture Room. (That last depends on whether I think I can deliver an acceptable British accent. Both the parts I’d want require it.) Unrelated to music, I got a questionnaire from the Republican National Committee wanting my feedback on ideas for the 2012 part platform, and I believe I will give them a piece of my mind. I can spare it, and it’s obvious they need it.

Joe

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