Sunday, April 06, 2008

Especially for Dr. Don

Whaddaya get when you mix Tim O'Brien, a couple guitars, a minstrel banjo, a bouzouki, and a fiddle, lock them all in the garage and give it some time?


You get a Chameleon.

When I got home Friday, that was the treat waiting in my mailbox. I had nearly I'd ordered it until I hit the door, having had the kind of week when I just didn't know what to do, think, feel, or not to next. So having a stack of new tunes to enjoy post-workout was perfect indeed.

And what a treat it is. It's just Tim with each instrument in turn, on all original songs. It's a recording that really reminds me why I like this artist so much and for so many reasons. He's honest, he's got the kind of voice you don't forget, he gets your attention, and he doesn't pretend to be something he's not. His songs really don't pull any punches. I have enjoyed every single one, each in turn strikingly different from the last.

But this one, in particular, had me laughing this morning on the bike at the fitness center. As in, "Look at that woman over there, laughing to her iPod. What is she listening to?" Ok, it wasn't quite like the salad scene in "When Harry Met Sally," but you get the picture. I was visibly moved.

And the reason this one got my attention while I was out of context and truly paying attention is that this song sounds like so many of the posts and emails of my virtual friend Dr. Don. It's really just what I think Don would write if he were Pete Seeger. How constantly we mourn the incapacity of Americans to think of anyone but themselves. And here, in this song, Tim says it all again!

So this is dedicated to you, Doc. I hope you enjoy it. You deserve to enjoy something, and free music is about as good as it gets. The best part is the singalong at the end!

And for the rest of you, I highly recommend this latest Tim recording. I find myself surprisingly untired of it after, I dunno, five or six listens. It's like having company, without the cleaning up. I hope Tim O isn't mad that I jumped on the lyrics. Typically they'd be on his Web site but this is so fresh they're not up yet. Corrections welcome.


Now back in school I studied hard
To learn our history
Of the pioneers who headed West
To reach the shining sea
Oh our forefathers fought the fight
To make our homeland free
Somehow they tamed the wilderness
And they did it all for me

This world is made for everyone
Especially for me
God made its riches manifest
Showed us our destiny
We thank the Lord who gave us
Our robust economy
This world was made for everyone
Especially for me

New Englanders, they fished for cod
Their business sense was sound
They traded it for rum and slaves
Before they turned around
These Puritans then hunted whales
They threw away the meat
They boiled the blubber, made the oil
That lit our city streets

(Chorus)

There’s gold and silver in the veins
Of this land we got from God
And when our oil starts runnin’ low
There’s plenty more abroad
And everyone around the world
Wants to live the way we do
Of course we know what’s good for us
Is good for those folks too!

Now the sun shines down upon us
Reflecting off the smog
Today I’ll wear a safety mask
While walking with my dog
And if you’re talking politics,
There’s lots we can discuss
But this world was made for everyone
Especially for us

(Chorus—Sing along!)

2 Comments:

At April 07, 2008 8:38 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Thanks Mando. That's actually pretty funny. Or it would be if America really wasn't the center of the known universe. We humans take ourselves far too seriously, myself included. It's always good when a writer, director, poet, musician, or artist reminds us of that fact.

 
At April 07, 2008 8:16 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Aye, Doc. Very true. Art gives us that context where it's safe to poke fun at ourselves, or conversely, look at something more deeply than if we were sitting in a board room among our peers.

I have high regard and a great enthusiasm for a lot of musicians, but for some reason the songs Tim has written or the way he has recorded other songs really hit home. I guess it's a combination of his style, his voice, the values expressed in the songs he writes or covers. It's like he peered into my head or heart and said, "Hey Jen, what's in that box over there?" And it sounds silly, but the music came at a time when I needed it and it was a real wake up call. The first time I met him, Fearless introduced us, and probably remembers. I looked at Tim and shook his hand and I said, "You cracked it wide open for me." I think he probably wasn't expecting that. Lord knows if he knew I meant the door he opened as far as the music, but looking back, I think it goes in that Big Book of Dumb Things You Say When You Finally Meet Your Heroes.

Any way, like you, he's a treasure. Glad you enjoyed the tribute.

MM

 

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