*Liner Notes are what we used to call the album information that was either printed on the back of the vinyl LP covers or inserted in the record sleeve.
Let’s Sing! Songs For Little Activists
- Sing For the Climate (3:06) Lyrics by Nic Balthazar, Stef Kamil Carlens, Music is a traditional Italian song “Bella Ciao”
This song was recorded by over 40 popular Belgian recording artists in 2012, then sung by flash-mobs all over Belgium. More than 380,000 people sang it. Numerous video clips were recorded and then edited together to create a video petition, and then shown to the Belgium Prime Minister, the State Secretary of Environment, and the Flemish and European Ministers of Environment. After viewing this video, they all signed on to the demands of the “Campaign for the Climate.” It’s a serious song with a serious message. We must do something NOW to stop climate change.
- Song of Peace (Dreamer) (2:36) by Lorre Wyatt
Lorre Wyatt is a wonderful folk singer and songwriter. This particular song offers the idea that nothing is impossible if we work hard and we work together,
- The Hammer Song (If I Had a Hammer) (2:47) by Pete Seeger and Lee Hayes
Written in 1949 as an anthem for many progressive concerns of the day, “The Hammer Song” still feels relevant today. We have many tools for change at our disposal. Let’s use them! Let’s raise our voices when we see injustices done. Let’s work to keep our planet healthy. Let’s sing out to keep our spirits high.
- Recycle Round (2:09) Traditional camp song, updated lyrics by Kathy Sherman
Many of you who were in the Girl/Boy/Cub scouts or in various summer camps will recognize this as “One bottle cap, two bottle caps, etc.” with the melody from an old German folk tune. Since many people don’t really know what bottle caps are any more, I decided to update this to make it a recycling round. Just in case the title doesn’t do a good enough job explaining it, I am posting the lyrics here:
One metal can, two metal cans, etc in the recycle bin
Don’t throw your trash in my backyard, not in the forests, the rivers or the streams
Compost your rotten vegetables, peppers, peppers, peppers, squash
Cardboard boxes make race cars, guitars, castles, spaceships fly me to the moon
- Teaching Peace (2:53) by Red Grammer
Whenever I sing this song I imagine a whole group of children marching in a parade – a Peace Brigade – singing that they will be teaching the grown-ups of the world how to behave respectfully to one another, how to engage in civilized discourse when we disagree, how to be a kind and generous friend.
- It Could be a Wonderful World (1:57) Lyrics by Hy Zaret, Music by Lou Singer
Slightly updated lyrics by Kathy Sherman
Here is another timeless song. In 1947, the songwriters were commissioned by a radio station to write a series of songs on “racial understanding and Americanism.” What they wrote became the album “Little Songs on Big Subjects”. It has since been re-released as “It Could Be a Wonderful World”. Note: I changed some of the lyrics ever so slightly to make them gender inclusive.
- Somos El Barco (5:19) by Lorre Wyatt
I just HAD to include this beautiful song, even though it’s been covered by so many artists, John McCutcheon, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Raffi, Holly Near, and you will find it on any number of compilation albums as well. It is a gentle song about unity and hope and perseverance. I want to give a special shout out to the fabulous Emilia Diaz Delgado who not only sings the heart-felt lead but also provides the gorgeous classical guitar instrumental foundation.
*AND THIS CONCLUDES THE “LITTLE ACTIVISTS” PORTION OF OUR PROGRAM!*
Let’s Sing! Songs For Big Activists
- The Times They Are A Changin’ (3:01) by Bob Dylan
I had an epiphany regarding this song. Even though it was written 60 years ago, the times really haven’t changed at all! We seem to be fighting the same battles we fought 60 years ago. We still are at war, we still have corrupt politicians, we still have parents and children who can’t understand each other. The more times change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps the real genius of this song is that it is a song for all times.
- One Foot in Front of the Other / Lead With Love (3:23) by Melanie DeMore
My first exposure to this song was from the Jerusalem Youth Chorus who presented a workshop at Stanford University. If you are not familiar with their incredible and important work, here is a link to their website: https://jerusalemyouthchorus.org/ TRANSCENDING CONFLICT THROUGH SONG.
Melanie DeMore is an inspiring songwriter, composer, activist, teacher, singer, and human. I can’t even really capture all the nouns, verbs, and adjectives to describe this superstar. All I can say is that if you need some inspiration to get you through your day, check her out. While we were working on this song, Alan Hebert (clarinet) felt a New Orleans vibes coursing through him. It was all I could do to just hold on and go for the ride. I hope Ms. DeMore approves.
- Clean, Safe Water (2:59) Lyrics by Kathy and Len Sherman, Music by Bob Nolan
Many of you will recognize this song as the old Sons of the Pioneers song “Cool, Clear Water”.
I felt this was the perfect song for updating (with permission from the publisher) to reflect on the water crisis that we now are experiencing due to climate change. Some parts of the world are experiencing catastrophic flooding while others are experiencing terrifying wildfires due to drought conditions. The oceans are polluted with enough plastic to form a continent and shore birds are being poisoned by oil spills. Populations around the world are suffering from the lack of clean drinking water and therefore there is an increase in water-borne diseases. It’s not a pretty picture. In keeping with the spirit of this song, I present these various scenarios with a gentle urgency – save our water, our precious water.
4, Singing for Our Lives (3:22) by Holly Near
“We are gentle, angry people, and we are singing for our lives!” This really sums up what this album is about. Holly Near wrote this song after San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were gunned down in 1978. It has become an anthem of unity for all people, whatever color, creed, gender identity or age. It is sung all over the world. “We are a Justice Seeking People, We are a Gentle Loving People, We are a Land of Many Colors, We are Gay and Straight Together, We are Trans and Cis Together and we are Singing for Our Lives!”
- Where Have All the Flowers Gone (3:33) by Pete Seeger, Joe Hickerson
Pete Seeger originally wrote this song in 1955, inspired by a Cossak folk song “Koloda-Duda”, that was referenced in a book, “And Quiet Flows the Don” by Mikhail Sholokhov. The song questions, “Where are the flowers? The girls have plucked them. Where are the girls? They’ve taken husbands. Where are the men? They’re in the army.” In 1956 Joe Hickerson, the leader of the Oberlin College Foldsong Club added the verses about soldiers going to graveyards and graveyards going to flowers, thus closing the circle.
I and many other artists have condensed the verses “girls → husbands, men → soldiers.” Instead, we sing “children → soldiers.” I feel this actually has a greater impact especially as there are still many child soldiers out there, not to mention our own, young men and women who sign up for active military duty, possibly to experience the glory of war, when they don’t really understand how precious a human life is.