Song of the Week #5 – People Once Were Welcome Here

I just found out this song is a Music2Life Songs for Social Change contest top ten finalist.  I will travel to Kerrville Music Festival to perform the song on June 5, 2010.

With the new harsh anti-immigrant legislation recently passed in Arizona (boycott, don’t spend money there, hint, hint) and about to be introduced in Texas, I don’t need to go into a long diatribe about why I wrote this song.  What I will do is leave you with a quote from an opinion of Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy in the case of Harry Bridges in 1942:

The Bill of Rights belongs to aliens as well as to all citizens.  It protects them as long as they reside within the boundaries of our land.  It protects them in the exercise of the great individual rights necessary to a sound political and economic democracy…..Only by guarding the rights of the most humble, the most unorthodox, and the most despised among us can freedom flourish and endure in our land.

To hear the song and read the lyrics click the link below:

People Once Were Welcome Here



Song of the Week # 4 – Woolman’s Words

John Woolman lived from 1720 to 1772.  You can read his bio here or here .  He became known for his ability to write well, and people would come to him to draw up legal documents and such.  When a man asked him to write a will to pass owned slaves to his heirs, Woolman was troubled because his conscience told him keeping slaves was wrong.  He wrote many essays, and by word and example tried to convince others to free slaves.

If he visited a house where there were slaves, he insisted on paying them a fair wage for any service done for him. If there was fine silver, he would not use it – slaves mined the silver.  Although he was a tailor by trade, he would only wear plain white clothes – slaves made the dyes for coloring.

Woolman wrote an essay called “A Plea for the Poor”.  I’ve been carrying it around in my notebook for some time, trying to figure out a way to use it in song – it has had a profound influence on me.  In it, Woolman asks us to consider all we have, and the lifestyle we enjoy, and consider whether it is a cause of war or oppression.  The rhetoric used to justify or incite people to support or allow war, often obscure and justify the real reasons for that war (resources, land, greed, money, military industrial complex).  It also seems that sometimes we are very quick to jump right to war as a solution, rather than any serious dialog or consideration of eliminating the causes of war (i.e. let’s just bomb someone, let’s not think about why they hate us).

I wrote this in the hopes that we the people might consider the causes of war, and our part in them, and consider what we do and buy, and what we demand of our leaders, and whether it is really okay if people must die and/or be oppressed to support our lifestyle.

Click on the link below to hear the song and read the lyrics:

Woolman’s Words

Song of the Week # 3 – Easter Song

This song is lyrics by Lester Dore’ and music by Steve Deasy.  If you like Woody Guthrie’s song Jesus Christ (“and they layed Jesus Christ in his grave”) you might like this one.  Just because Woody has said many things we want to say, and probably better than we can, it does not mean that the world cannot use our song.  We can’t all be Woody.

Click on the link below to get to the song page, and then the play button to play the song, or the smiley face to download it.

Easter Song



2010 U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, the J Word, & a New Song.

Today I want to talk about the upcoming U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, and the dreaded “J” word, which I have never taken on either in music or blog.  Yes, you guessed it, the name of “Jesus”.  The historical Jesus is one of the most interesting and talked about people in history, even years after his death.  The U.S. social forum is just the next in a long line of people’s alternatives to the forums where politicians and corporate heads get together to divvy up the economic pie, like the World Economic Forum, Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) summits, G-8, World Trade Organization, G-20 and so on.  Come to think of it, maybe I will post my pictures of the streets of my birth town, Pittsburgh, during the G20 and call it “Pittsburgh Under Authoritarian Rule”.  Anyway the corporate heads and politicians seldom consider people at these forums, just profits.  So the people’s forums continue a line from the Zapatista uprising in 1994 (as NAFTA came down) through the Battle of Seattle in 1998 to the first World Social Forum in Brazil, 2001 to the U.S. Social Forums.  This time, there will be an attempt to pull in religious organizations, unlike previous events:

Bill Wylie-Kellermen, a Detroit minister, writes:

Our regional version – The first US Social Forum was held three years ago in Atlanta. Many people from Detroit attended and were moved and changed by it. However, it could be said that the first forum missed the boat on connecting well with churches, communities of faith and spirit. I got involved with the local organizing partly to make certain things are different in Detroit. To be sure, dominant and mainstream religion has been historically complicit in empire, in the assaults on the planet and on the poor (and so we confess), but spirituality and gospel faith have been a grounding and sparking force as well in witness and the movement work of social transformation.

Indeed.  I was watching the movie “Religulous” by Bill Maher.  Many countries have used religion to justify imperialist goals, wrapping themselves in rhetoric of “God and Country” to justify land grabs, oppression, taking  resources, and even slavery.   Thomas Jefferson, a founding father, wrote a book called “The Faith and Moral Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth”, in which he took the Gospels, took out Jesus’ miracles, and removed any statements claiming divinity.  After a discussion of his doubts with some devout men in a Trucker’s Chapel in Raleigh, NC, Maher said to them, “Thank you for being Christ-like and not just christian.”  Like Maher, I don’t know if Jesus is or isn’t God, but, like the lyric in Jesus Christ Superstar, “one thing I’ll say for him, Jesus is cool!”

As regards the people’s U.S. Social Forum: WWJD – What would Jesus do?  Certainly he did preach against the rich (it is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom).  Perhaps it is because those riches come at the expense of others. He might have us consider if our possessions are causes of war or oppression.  He might say there is no such thing as a “holy” or “just” war- people made that shit up.  He might say religion is a real bad idea.  Unlike John Lennon, he might not care about countries anymore, since the oppressors are multi-national and don’t belong, care about or align with countries anymore.  Everyone sing along,  “Imagine no G20, no banks or corporate greed, some might not get what they want, but all get what they need”.

Anyway it is in this spirit that I present you my latest rough mix demo song, called “Easter Song” with lyrics by my friend and sometimes writing partner, Lester Dore’, and music and the rest by me, Steve Deasy.

And to those people of faith who do attend the forum, regardless of affiliation, if you do the hard work of justice and peace you are doing God’s work.  Don’t be “just christian” – be Christ-like. Be Ghandi-like. Be Martin Luther King-like.  Click the link below to hear the song:

Easter Song, by Steve Deasy and Lester Dore’