Punk Rock Vote

Have you voted yet? I’m lucky enough to have an early voting station in the lobby of my office building, so I already got to cast my ballot in what feels like the most consequential election of my lifetime. Precarious times.

For me, this is not just about hoping to snatch democracy from the jaws of tyranny but the future of the planet from the claws of those that deny climate change.

When my buddy Ron recently put out the call to make some art to get out the vote, I said “I’m in!” So he sent me some lyrics, aimed at getting younger folks out, to make into a song.

I made a few little adjustments – worked some of Pete Seeger’s participation in – and cranked out this one-minute punk rock Vote song. Please share.

Vote!

You will listen to bad music
You will wear dumb clothes
You will sport extreme haircuts
You will awkwardly make out
Who cares. It doesn’t matter. You’re young.
One day you’ll look back
At all those selfies
And laugh your ass off

But not voting is different

It really matters
It’s never mattered more
Only way to save the nation
is participation
Your chance to stand up
and save the planet

Get off your ass and vote
Get off your ass and vote
Get off your ass and vote
Vote Vote Vooooooooote!!!

by Jeff and Jane and J

Pete Seeger w quote

What It’s Like

On one of our walks around campus a few years ago my friend Dan shared some Buddhist phrases that he uses as mantras. First: “Everything changes. Everything’s connected. Pay attention.” And second: “Right now, it’s like this.”

Those stuck with me and I made some slight adjustments to make them more singable, ending up with:

Everything’s connected
Everything’s changing
So pay attention
This is what it’s like right now

After a little searching, I discovered that the first three lines can be attributed to poet Jane Hirshfield, who wrote, “Zen pretty much comes down to three things — everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.”

The last line seems to come from a Buddhist monk named Ajahn Sumedho, who advises us “to see things the way that they actually are rather than the way that we want or don’t want them to be (“Right now, it’s like this…”).”

Gary Sanders’ hands

I like the way singing these lines brings me back to the present, focussing me with a sense of curiosity and wonder on how much is happening at this moment. I hope I’ve made the song catchy enough to stick in your head and bend your attention for a second to the interconnectedness of things.

The video of tall grass with cattails in the wind comes from a lovely city park we stumbled upon one spring day in Boston. I hope you can get lost in the beauty of the wind through the grass and trees.

Saturday Morn

If you’ve got a dog or cat, you probably talk to them as I do. And I bet they speak to you too.

Frida and Townes

Frida and Townes, cuddling on the couch

Saturday Morn is a song about walking my dog, Townes, early one Saturday as my cat, Frida, followed us from a distance.

I was very much in my head that morning, frustrated and dispirited. But as my mind wandered, Townes’s buoyant doggy spirit brought me back to the sunlight and serenity of the park.

Eventually, Townes’s insistence that we play and fetch and swim lifted my mood. So this song is about how our beloved animal friends get us out of ourselves and bring us back to the glories of the present.

dog bless,
j

Saturday Morn

“Ya got some buddies there I see”
the runner said to me
as me and Townes and Frides lounged in the sun

Twas a gorgeous Saturday morn,
cool breeze, warm sun
the day barely begun already runnin’ round

Townes was chewing on a stick,
Frida chewin’ on her leg
we were all rollin on our backs in our grassy gowns

I was sittin on a stump by the stream
across from where I’ve been
I could see the rut I was in and how well worn

How I sit day after day,
dreamin’ of places I’ll play
without finding a way to get it done

And Townes said “Let’s jump in the pool and chase things”
and Frida said “Don’t mind me, I’ll sneak along behind”
I said Come on, move along, let’s go now
And home we flied

Takin advice from the dogs is a mugs game
Takin advice from the cats is fine
Take me some good advice for when you need relaxin
Stay kind to yourself in your mind
And take yourself a little time

Cause I know that Townes is right,
a dog needs his exercise
but I feel like some catnip and following behind

Now they’re dozing on the porch
and I’m strumming a few chords
try in
to get my head restored to the how and why

I know that I need that plan
that details who I am
defines the discipline to win the war

To forget about my worst
put out my best and bust
on to the scene like the first one to be born

And Townes says “Please don’t be gone all the time”
and Frida says “I’ll wander off into the night”
and I said “I’ll stay and myself that I’ll play
and walk you every day forevermore
and walk you every day forevermore”