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The Music of David Rovics


Whether organizing, taking a break or enduring the little miseries of every day life, good music helps renew our energy, inspires us and provides new insights – all to keep us movin forward, and eventually, to win social change. I have to say that the music of David Rovics does all this and more – so I thought I’d do my part to spread the word and even share a few of my favorite songs.

I clipped this from Rovics’ website, where he writes:

“Since the mid-90′s I’ve been spending most of my time on tour, playing concerts around the US, Canada and various countries in Europe. Often for dozens, fairly often for hundreds, and a few times a year for many thousands, at rallies and protests and such. Those big events are inevitably highlights, when so many people come together to protest against the imperialist war-mongers, corporate globalizers, schools of torture, etc. I’ve had the honor in recent years of sharing the stage with many fine activists including Amy Goodman, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Angela Davis, Danny Glover, Desmond Tutu, Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Ward Churchill, Jello Biafra, Dead Prez, Pete Seeger, Billy Bragg, Bruce Cockburn, the Indigo Girls, Steve Earle and many others. What a bunch of name-dropping. Perhaps you should think less of me for it. Incidentally, most of the most impressive speakers and performers I’ve shared the stage with aren’t in the list there, and you’ve never heard of them.”

His songs, whether singing about Falluja, Hugo Chavez or life “After the Revolution” range from perceptive historic observation, current issues and story telling, to inspiring rally calls for resistance and visionary thinking.

I had the chance to interview David back in April, 2004 for Redeye, Vancouver Cooperative Radio. He came to Vancouver to do a concert and we sat in the green room just before he went live. We discussed many of his songs, the role of music in political action, the process of writing political tunes and how he became a musician. You can listen to it here. I was also able to capture the whole concert which is well worth listening to and is available at the same above link.

Check out the lyrics to his song about New Orleans…

Everybody knew that it could happen
The likelihood was clear
The future was coming
And now it’s here
They had to fix the levees
Because otherwise they’d break
On one side was the city
Above it was the lake
It was in the daily papers
In bold letters was the writ
What would happen
When the Big One hit
But every year they cut the funding
Just a little more
So they could give it to the Army
To fight their oil war

In National Geographic
And the Times-Picayune
They forecast the apocalypse
Said it was coming soon
Preparations must be made, they said
Now is the time
It was years ago they shouted
Inaction was a crime
They said the dikes must be improved
And the wetlands must be saved
But Washington decided
Instead they should be paved
Because malls were more important
Than peoples’ lives
So put some gold dust in your eyes
And hope no storm arrives

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

Years and years of warning
No evacuation plan
It was just if the waters rose
Just get out if you can
There were no buses
No one chartered any trains
There was no plan to rescue
All of those who would remain
All the people with no money
All the people with no wheels
All of those who didn’t hotwire
One that they could steal
Thousands and thousands of people
Abandoned by the state
Abandoned by their country
Just left to meet their fate

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

And the people died
And then they died some more
They drowned inside their attics
An army of the poor
An army of the destitute
Who couldn’t get away
And the world will remember
These sad and awful days
When people shouted from their houses
Dying on their roofs
When people came to find them
They were turned back by the troops
They died there with no water
They died there in the heat
They were shot down by the soldiers
For trying to find some food to eat

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

And now the city is in ruins
A massive toxic sea
Scattered through the nation
Half a million refugees
Here we are
In the richest country on the earth
Where the color of your skin
Determines what your life is worth
Where oil is the king
Where global warming is ignored
Where the very end of life
Is the place we’re heading toward
Where it’s more than just a metaphor
The flooding of the dike
And if we don’t stop this madness
The whole planet will be like

New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans

You can listen to the mp3 audio file of this song here. You can also buy his music there if you’re so inclined to lend him your financial support.

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