Tag Archives: New Song

Trump Is Working On A Building

Super-Classy Un-buh-leev-able Amazing Failure

Donald Trump's hair is just so super-great.
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.

Remember when Google set up search results for “miserable failure” to link to George W. Bush? Apparently that was called a “Google Bomb” and miserable failure isn’t linked to Bush any more. But don’t you think there’s another miserable failure lurking around these days? Or maybe an amazing failure? Or super-classy failure? Or unbelievable failure? Yes? Me too. So I wrote a song about lumpy bag of moldy clementines Donald Trump. Have a listen:

Woody and the Carter Family

Now, you may notice, if you’re familiar with old folk tunes, that this new song I wrote about Trump is very similar to the Carter Family song I’m Working on a Building. There’s a few very good reasons for that.

First is, it’s one of my favorite tunes. I play it often and, so, it pops up in my head a lot at random times during the day.

Second, it has some good phrases that I figured I could update to be relevant about today. That’s the best thing to do when writing a folk song. Find an old one that you like, that has a catchy melody and an interesting message and then replace a few words to make it relatable to something currently in the news or your life. I barely even had to change the repeating chorus because Trump does work on buildings. Only thing different is that instead of building a house of good and a structure of hope and faith, he bankrupts everyone and everything he comes in contact with.

Like Father Like Son

Trump and his father Fred
Two severely balding orange men standing close together.

Now, the last reason, and maybe the reason that got me writing this new song is closely linked to the idea of creating new songs by rewriting old ones. Last week I was thinking a lot about Donald Trump because of the Republican National Convention and I remembered a news article I read about how Woody Guthrie had written a song about Trump’s crooked landlord father Fred Trump (read all about him here). So I went in search of that article to listen to the song because I thought maybe I could update it to be about Donald.

Only problem is, when I found the article, it turns out Woody didn’t so much write a song about Fred Trump, he just maybe reworked a verse of his tune I Ain’t Got No Home. His “song” about Fred Trump amounts to little more than a few scribbled ideas in his notebook. Not much for me to use. Plus, Woody’s song I Ain’t Got No Home was already a rewrite of the Carter Family song Can’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore. Do you see where this is headed?

Woody took a lot of ideas from Carter Family tunes (and from a lot of other people) and that’s something I picked up on really fast when I started writing my own songs. I didn’t have to try and come up with something completely new and different. I could just update old songs to fit my times and the troubles and triumphs I saw around me. So that’s what I did with I’m Working on a Building.

But that’s STEALING

Yeah, it probably is. I admit that. Although, folk music (and maybe most music) is all stolen. Every new song rests on the shoulders of something that came before it. You might go as far to say that everything rests on the shoulders of what went before it. As we move into the future the past is what we have to stand on. Forgetting that, you fall into a pit of nothing and may never take another step in any direction. I guess it’s only really stealing if you take complete credit for all the words in a song and say all the ideas were yours alone and no one  ever did anything like you ever before. No one does that, though, right?

Mysterious Train: The Talkin’ Headline Blues #122

The Talkin’ Headline Blues is a weekly series of recordings using unedited headlines from CNN.com written as a song. This week’s topic: Mysterious Train.

Mysterious Train: The Talkin' Headline Blues #122

Brawl exposes flood.
Plane turns, hits trend, is mysterious.
Milestone for Russia fired.
First train home.

Check out where my next live performance will be at MusicVomit.net.

New Song: Sitting down to say a tune

It’s been a whole lot of time since I posted a new song.

It’s been a whole lot of time since I wrote a new song.

But, I figured today was a good day to do both.

It’s my daughter’s first birthday. This song is for her. Only she would be able to understand it, I think.

To everyone else it makes no sense. It hardly makes sense to me.

So that’s that.

Happy Birthday, Della. Shake that pineapple can.

Goodbye, Goodbye

In Cairo, the Spring can be great, but the Fall not so much

In Cairo, the Spring can be great, but the Fall...not so muchSo I had the idea for this new song on Tuesday last week. For one reason or another the old tune Goin’ Down to Cairo popped into my head while I was driving around in my car. Don’t know if you’ve ever heard that tune, check it out if you haven’t. This video is a pretty good approximation of how it’s always sung. You can also read about what that tune is all about over here, courtesy of the Old Town School of Folk Music. That’s where I first heard the song. People up there love it. Can’t get enough of it.

Anyway, I had that tune goin in my head and then I figured I hadn’t ever tried to write a song about the Arab Spring. Mainly, probably, because I don’t know a whole lot about it and because it ain’t really affecting me and my comfortable life. Other than for a week or so, a month or so ago, the news channels couldn’t get enough of it.

It’s pretty obvious, I think, how I went from a song about a town way down south at the tip of the bottom of Illinois to something about what’s going on over in the Middle East. And it was pretty easy, actually, to go from one to the other and back again. People in Illinois say “Kay-ro” and people in Egypt say “Ki-ro,” but they all want the same things when you get right down to it. Ain’t anything hard about that.

So that’s the song for today. Have a listen.