We rescued a dog (Bernie) from the shelter this year and had some fun making a music video featuring him. The music is my rendition of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Wall,’ but I think the best part is the video footage that relates to the lyrics. Bernie’s ‘mom’ helped a lot with putting the video together. I hope that you enjoy!
Johnny Cash (1932-2003) has been one of my favorite musicians for most of my years. His distinctive voice, acoustic guitar melodies, and authentic lyrical stories are what have kept me re-listening to and discovering his music for my entire adult life. Only recently, though, have I given much thought to what is perhaps the most remarkable thing about him as far as I’m concerned. Which is that he sang for prisoners.
He performed at prisons for prisoners several times, with perhaps his most famous performance being at Folsom Prison in 1968 when he recorded the ‘Live at Folsom Prison‘ album. The way he talks to the audience mid-song, I think, is special, as are lyrics of songs like ‘The Wall.’ Though I don’t know Cash’s reasons for performing at Folsom or other prisons, and am sure that he was trying to help his own career, I also get the definite impression that he was trying to do something kind for the prisoners. To make them feel better.
Many people, I think, would sneer or scoff at attempts to make prisoners who may have murdered or raped other people feel better. The term ‘deserves to rot in prison’ comes to mind. So, why might have Cash, in some instances at least, disagreed and thought prisoners deserved kindness?
Maybe his song ‘Man in Black,’ in which he describes why he wears black, answers that question: “I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he’s a victim of the time.”
Cash’s actions and words exemplify his understanding of a really hard thing to admit, which I remember adamantly denying. Namely, that people are foremost products of their environment. For good or for bad. Like a fire or a flood (or a rainbow), people don’t create themselves. Similar to non-human natural phenomena, people sometimes do need to be contained or avoided to maintain safety. I admit that.
However, I think that it is important to see that spending the energy to hate a person (like a prisoner who ‘deserves to rot’) is as fruitless as spending energy hating a flood. It does no good. That bad has happened and we have to move forward. Like the energy that could be spent creating a wetland to stop floods, singing to prisoners could create a glow in them that also might keep them from burning the world at their first opportunity. I think Johnny knew that. He also seemed to see that there are prisoners everywhere, few behind bars. So, upon seeing that too, let’s sing however we can.
I made it my goal for today to write a song about doing a better job of conserving our natural heritage. The song that I came up with is called ‘Donkeys, Elephants, and Caribou.’ The lyrics are below the link to me playing the song, so that you can read along (or read only) if you’d like.
Paul wakes up and makes his eggs,
he says: ‘here we go again.’
The old engine fires, moves his tires
to the place that hollows his years.
By the forest-bordered river he drives
where there’s so many memories
that for a moment he forgets
the radio’s conspiracies.
With hair done and makeup on,
Winona walks through the park.
The girls will be indignant today,
the news never disappoints.
But, for a moment, the gossip-world erodes.
As a young fox pounces on a leaf,
Winona feels a warm glow
that she hasn’t felt in weeks.
But Evelyn the politician says:
Pauls shouldn’t trust Winonas,
because donkeys and elephants don’t mix.
And demonizing and dividing she knows,
gets herself far more votes.
And people become so dizzied that they
fail to see the beauty that she sells to
get profiteers to give her money.
The Evelyns of the world will do whatever they can
to change the image that in the mirror they see
But they’re just reflections of Paul, Winona, you, and me.
And their charisma is often meant just to deceive.
Don’t listen when they say to disagree, without thinking.
So, let’s prove the politicians wrong.
Let’s tell them loud and clear
that there’s something about which we all agree.
Whether we’re ‘R’s’ ‘D’s,’ or ‘L’s’,
We won’t sleep under your spell.
We demand our natural heritage to be protected,
Or you won’t be elected
Or you won’t be re-elected
Or you won’t be elected.
I haven’t been a regular watcher of NFL football in a long time, but yesterday I decided to imagine a song about a fish’s journey to accept life in his new (not-Super) bowl. I had fun co-writing the song.
If you’d like, check it out here:
I have changed places (moved) many times in large part because many places (particularly, natural environments) are changing. Environmental change endangers much of life on Earth, including human life. Thus, numerous times, going back to my first year as a student at Purdue University, I have been hired by some entity (non-profit organizations, universities, governments) to help monitor and/or respond to those environmental changes. This conservation-related work has led me to work/learn in 15 states in the U.S.A, as well as to Canada and to Costa Rica (one of which was reluctant to let me in…), and to more adventures than I ever thought that I might experience. It has been a great ride. That said, I’m glad to be in a place now where I plan to be for at least a couple years. Travel can be tiring, and settling down for a bit (so I’ve heard) can be rewarding.
I’ve decided to submit this post to WordPress in order to deliver to you a couple videos. Video 1 overviews a project led by Indiana University which has caused me to (very happily) move again. Video 2 is a short song/poem by one of my favorite artists about moving. I hope that from the first video you will learn a bit about why acknowledging, caring about, and responding to the dangers of environmental change is important. From the second video, I hope that those of you who are also ‘movers’ (or have moved at least once!) will feel the glow of companionship via ‘I can relate to that!’ thoughts.
Or maybe these videos will cause, ‘hm, I didn’t know that people thought that way’ thoughts, which are important, too – and may eventually lead to another category of thoughts which aren’t possible now…
Video 2 can be better fit into a short window of time, but both are relatively brief. I hope that you enjoy them.
I recently wrote and recorded this song, so thought I’d share. Like almost all of my songs, I wrote this in order to think a situation through. I also made a video to accompany it, to help paint a clearer picture for those not between my ears!
There are a lot of rainstorms this time of year in Florida. Basically every afternoon. Luckily, I happen to enjoy the rain a lot, so felt inclined to create a metaphor that might cause the experience of rain to bring a smile to one’s face (to combat the ‘rain on your parade’ metaphor, and other dreary, similar ones).
While I wrote this song/poem I was thinking of one of my favorite poems, ‘Drunken Boat,’ by Arthur Rimbaud. Maybe you’ll love Arthur’s words as much as I do.
Here is the link to my song and ‘music video’: