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Friday, September 24, 2010

¡Sí Se Puede! lyrics

¡Sí Se Puede!
words & music by Lloyd Miller, arrangement by Chris Johnson, Ely Levin, Lloyd Miller, and Anand Mukherjee
(c) (p) 2009

Spanish translation by Greg Helmick and Roger Miller

César Chávez said
Today I will not eat.
No grapes, no rice, no beans
No tomatoes, potatoes... just water

César Chávez said
the people are abused
on the farms that make our food
I won't eat anything til they do

He fasted for
1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 10 days
but he wasn't done
He said no food please
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,
18. 19,
20 - 25 (in Spanish)

César Chávez decía
Hoy no voy a comer.
Ni uvas, ni arroz, ni frijoles
Ni jitomates, ni papas, nomás* agua

Spanish words that follow say roughly the same thing as English words above.

César Chávez decía
La gente es maltratada
En las granjas que nos dan la comida
No comeré antes que el cosechero.

El ayunó uno dos tres cuatro cinco
Seis siete ocho nueve diez once días
Pero no había terminado.
Fue sin comer día y noche once doce catorce
Quince dieciséis diecisiete

Sojourner Truth lyrics

Sojourner Truth
words by Charlotte Banigan-White and Lloyd Miller
music by Lloyd Miller
(c) (p) 2008

Sojourner Truth traveled up the mountain
and the moon was right behind her
she looked down the mountain
at those who tried to stop her

The moon looked like a light
and shined on Sojourner Truth
Where she's going
you're invited too

Zora lyrics

words & music by Lloyd Miller, arrangement by Chris Johnson, Ely Levin, Lloyd Miller, and Anand Mukherjee
(c) (p) 2010

Zingin' zongz in Zorida
Zatz what zee WPA paid her for-a

Singin' songs
and collectin' stories
in the land of Okeechobee

Z! for the sound at the end of Evergladz
O! O-o-o- Okeechobee hurricane
R! Recordin' things people never heard before
A! As in shake, shake it shake it do the Teacake

In F-L-A, she made Janie and Teacake
her ethnographic work took her all over the Southern states
and her recorda
Listenin' to rituals in Haiti and Jamaica
You should hear what she heard
Marty, cue the tape up!

Z! For the "z" in Their EyeZ Were Watching God
O! O-o- Okeechobee, way down South in the swamp
R! He jumped in for Janie got bit by a rabid dog
A! Subway, Did you see me cry for Teacake?

Little Red Airplane lyrics

Little Red Airplane
words & music by Lloyd Miller, arrangement by Chris Johnson, Ely Levin, Lloyd Miller, and Anand Mukherjee
(c) (p) 2009

First time she saw a plane
She said "That's not interesting."
"Just rusted wire and wood"
Ten years before she stood...

With a friend at a stunt plane show
Little airplane toward her dove
She said "That little red airplane
had something to say to me"

Little Red... Little Red Airplane! (etc)

On her first Atlantic flight
she was a passenger not a pilot
"I was baggage, a sack of potatoes..."
Maybe next time I'll try it solo
in a...

Little Red... Little Red Airplane! (etc)

Now Newfoundland is where she took
Ireland is where she took her hat off
"Have you flown far?" asked the farmer
she said, "Uh, yeah... America..."

This time the plane was white
Plan was trans-navigational flight
That means take off in one place
Fly the world around
Land in the same place
Meet the crowds
In a...

Little Red... Little Red Airplane! (etc)

Somewhere between Asia and Hawaii
Amelia's radio went silent
But if you look up
You can still see her flying
Speak up! She's flying pretty high in a...

Little Red... Little Red Airplane! (etc)

Baldy lyrics

words & music by Lloyd Miller, arrangement by Chris Johnson, Ely Levin, Lloyd Miller, and Anand Mukherjee
(c) (p) 2007

Baldy! Not dead yet!
Shot him down
He came back again
Baldy! They dug up his grave!
His head hangs in Philly, PA

Are you dead, Baldy?
Nay nay nay nay... (etc)

George Meade rode me
at Getty-B and An-T-T-
The Deedle Deedle Dees wrote these rhymes for me
but I don't like sayin' 'em... I'm old!
Yo, horses don't like gettin' their heads cut off
and hung up in museums so people can look at us
They like battles and bullets and gettin' shot
I got 14 slugs.. Fitty, how many you got?


Thought I was dead but they found me grazin'
in a nearby pasture
they was cleanin' up the place
Antietam, it wasn't pretty
Some places couldn't see the grass
there was so many bodies... Yo!

I'd like to take this moment to give a neigh
to the deceased Cincinnati
Good lookin' out for USG
And what about the horse they used to call Rienzi
later Winchester, carried Phillip Sheridan
rode so fast Confederates never touched a hair 'a him
And, Traveler, even though you carried Robert E. Lee,
I hope you can hear me...

Neigh neigh neigh neigh neigh...


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John Muir, fall leaves, dancing ducks...

We've decided to turn our October 10th show at 92Y Tribeca into a big celebration of the natural world. We'll sing songs about people who love the outdoors (John Muir, Thoreau), our favorite birds (ducks, starlings, pigeons -- New York City birds!), falling leaves, and more.

Graduates of my Prospect Park Nature Babies program (sadly discontinued), please come help the newbies learn all the dance moves I taught you.

See you there!

Lloyd (Ulysses S. Dee)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let It Dee (the original nutso demo)

Our first album, Let It Dee, is out of print. About five people know that there is another album by this name that was never printed (and hopefully never will be). I just found one of the surviving CD-Rs of this strange document while organizing some long-untouched discs. Here's a track listing:

1. Ina Mina Dika (living room demo) 2:42
2. Scared by my own Costume (weirdo voices) 3:17
3. Fool Sandwich (echoes of kazoo) 4:12
4. Jorge 2:11
5. Free as a Turd (mouth drum) 1:58
6. Rearview Tavo 3:31
7. Babe Ruth (brushes, kazoo) 3:56
8. I Got No Skillz (featuring Mildew) 3:18
9. Dee Theme I (Flood?) 7:27
10. Aaron Burr (out of breath) 4:04
11. Pancakes with Your Mom (Bridge Bridge) 2:33
12. Jorge (instrumental) 2:29
13. Tavo and Muk 2:09
14. Scared by my own Costume (even worse) 2:45
15. Free as a Turd (ha ha, acoustic) 2:18
16. He Writes Big 2:55
17. Gil the Pill 0:58
18. Inky Do, Inky Don't 2:22
19. Let's Get Rough 1:43
20. Bull of Heaven 2:17
21. We Are The Scorpions 1:25
22. What's Your Sad Face For? 3:04
23. Bernice (featuring Paul Reyes + LLoyd) 3:10

Some brief explanations (before we let this recording disappear forever):

"Jorge" was the signature song of Anand (Innocent Dee) when I first met him. I nearly fell off a Brooklyn rooftop laughing the first time I heard him play it.

"Mildew" is one of the many ill-advised personas I took on in my pre-Dee days. Mildew hosted variety shows and would boast of being the "worst rapper in America."

"He Writes Big" is a tune I wrote for a student film called Big Albert by Sonny Quinn. About a kid who can only write big. Really big.

Tracks 17-22 are from the musical I co-wrote with some second graders in 2003 based on the Epic of Gilgamesh. Not long after I decided to start the Dees. We played some of these tunes at the first couple of Dees shows.

"Bernice" isn't a Dees song. It was written by our friend Paul Reyes (who gave us the original idea for "Henry Box Brown") Like many songs of the era, it deals with dogs, the Amish, and a woman whose life has spiraled out of control. I play drums (very very very badly) on the track.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Battle of Brooklyn lyrics

Battle of Brooklyn
words and music (c) (p) Lloyd Miller 2007

Ba-ba-ba-baba- Battle of Brooklyn (repeat)

verse 1
The British came over in boats
from Staten Island at the Narrows
back then there was no Verrazananana-nanananana...

verse 2
Twas at the Donegan Oak
the rebels held the high ground
and the redcoats were slowed
but it wasn't long
'fore they were on their way to Park Slope!

verse 3
The corner of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue
back then was high ground that Washington used
to watch the rebels' bold attack
and then the redcoats redcoats drove 'em back

The rebels took the Old Stone House
and then the redcoats redcoats drove 'em out

Few left alive
but there was just enough time
for Washington and the rest of the rebels to run to Jersey at night

Video here:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hilary Mantel: The Best Author Alive

I do most of my reading on the subway. Used to, before I had kids and their accompanying strollers, backpacks, lunchboxes, diaper bags, etc., I would regularly brave the train with huge hardcover books. I remember some particularly good workouts I got with a biography of Daniel Webster (a book that I ended up leaving in a cab before I finished it).

These days, though, I always wait for everything in paperback. That rule-- and the fact that I haven't succumbed to a Kindle -- is why I'm probably the only person I know who has not read Hilary's Mantel's Wolf Hall. As soon as I read a few sentences about it I knew that it was a book that I had to read. But I refused to break my paperback rule, even for such a book. Instead I delved into Mantel's early work starting with A Place of Greater Safety, one of the books on the Deedle Deedle Dees fall reading list.

A Place of Greater Safety is a book about the French Revolution, an absolute masterpiece of historical fiction. For me personally, it was also a turning point in my reading life. Before this book, which I read earlier this year, I found myself lifelessly turning the pages of current novels that critics and friends adored but that I found terribly boring. Even my beloved history books had lost their appeal. I kept reading them, but mostly out of obligation and compulsion.

I won't say anything further about A Place of Greater Safety except that you must read it. It saved my reading life. I'm now back to devouring every book I see -- bad books, great books, everything is fun again.

Also very worth your time are two very different books by Ms. Mantel: Beyond Black and Every Day is Mother's Day. Again I'll say very little about either except that both are ghost stories (of a kind). Read this New Yorker piece if you need more info: Actually, if you can wait, read one of Ms. Mantel's books before you read this article. It's far more fascinating to find out about her real self once you've met some of her fictional ones.

Wolf Hall, by the way, just came out in paperback. As soon as I finish Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (the Deedle Deedle Dees book club selection for September) you know what I'll be reading. (More on Kidder's book in a future post)