What She Said

by Fred Gillen Jr

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1.
I may not believe in God but I'll say a little prayer for America governors are lining up to stop the refugees they forget their grandparents who came to this country immigrants built this land and they will keep it strong how quickly we forget this any time something goes wrong I may not believe in God but I'll say a little prayer for America senators protest, they have a sit-in on the floor but they won;t do their job and pass a simple righteous law that can talk all night and say nothing or sound grand but none of it amounts to more than castles made of sand I may not believe in God but I'll say a little prayer for America WE WILL FIGHT AND WE WILL SING THOUGH NO ONE HEARS AND WE WON'T WIN WE WILL LIVE WITH LOVE UNTIL IT DROWNS OUT ALL OUR FEARS THOUGH I DON'T BELIEVE THAT WE CAN POSSIBLY SURVIVE TOGETHER WE CAN TRY I may not believe in God but I'll say a little prayer for America
2.
Return of the Buffalo Just before the last herds were destroyed a silent film director filled a ship with buffalo bound for Catalina, to star in a movie show but no one ever thought to bring them home the return of the buffalo like the sound of thunder on the prairie wind the herds like blood flowing ‘round the black heart of America they grazed and lived their lives and soon their numbers grew they overran their new island home the years ticked by, as the herds multiplied they needed prairie grass and room to roam the return of the buffalo like the sound of thunder on the prairie wind the herds like blood flowing ‘round the black heart of America the vanishing american was the film they had a role in but when the final cut came in there was no sign of them as the sage grows back, the prairie comes to life that great ghost herd was returned just in time when man is long forgotten, just a shadow on the land there will be peace and bounty where the buffalo stand the return of the buffalo like the sound of thunder on the prairie wind the herds like blood flowing ‘round the black heart of America
3.
Future Americans brought from Burma at six years old my parents fled for their lives pursuing freedom from tyranny and a safe place to raise their child when they tried to enroll me in school in the land of the free there was a place for every kid except for this refugee we are future Americans we started as refugees its time to give us a place here our dreams don't threaten your dreams down at the mill I learned to cut faster than anyone could I have a knack for that type of work and I love the smell of the wood I've tried to watch NASCAR and drink a few beers with some of the guys at the bar though my English is good, there's so much I don't get even though I've come so far we are future Americans we started as refugees its time to give us a place here our dreams don't threaten your dreams I married a woman from Burma that I met in my neighborhood we had a traditional wedding the guys from the mill loved the food we had a beautiful child innocent and free but all she’ll ever hear from the people in power is that she threatens her dreams
4.
Some Call It Karma, Some Call It Grace They said there was a chance so you rolled the dice you listened to the experts advice they added two years of horror to your life the only benefit was you got to say goodbye some call it karma and some call it grace but neither one helps with the things we must face sitting in that hospital room with your ass out of your gown tubes and wires keeping you alive but powered down your body keeps on working long after you are gone everything about this scene is wrong some call it karma and some call it grace but neither one helps with the things we must face as I stare out at the twilight in the emptiness you left I’ve lost my sense of wonder, it went the way of my innocence as I ponder life without you, there’s no comfort to be found in sacred words or ceremonies, which used to seem profound I’m left with only memories, delicate and thin scattering with your ashes in the wind some call it karma and some call it grace but neither one helps with the things we must face
5.
She Loved 03:44
She Loved She never went to college finished high school pregnant gave birth that July learned most of what she knew on the streets of her home town spent most of her life too poor to cry but she loved, that's what she did she made it her work, she gave it her soul she loved, she loved, she loved she sang show music but could't carry a tune and she loved John Denver and Johnny Cash though we barely had food on the table when one of us needed something she'd always pull a few dollars from some secret stash she loved, that's what she did she made it her work, she gave it her soul she loved, she loved, she loved Seven grandchildren and she was close to every one was there when each one was born and they all cried when she died she became a Catholic to marry in the church and wound up more devout than her husband was she knew how to laugh was not afraid to cry and her children were perfect in her eyes she loved, that's what she did she made it her work, she gave it her soul she loved, she loved, she loved
6.
Price of Progress we had a funeral service for two thousand trees today singing songs and saying goodbye on public lands we thought were safe roots ripped from the earth, down the middle of a reservation but they had to move a forest of us before they could get to the trees there were veterans of protest there, but mostly neighbors and friends making it clear by our numbers that we won;t let this happen again no- we won;t let this happen again the price of progress what have we lost? paying the cost of the price of progress I picked up an extra shift guarding the pipeline job site just looking to pay my bills, not thinking 'bout wrong or right I've been paid to serve and protect someone in another state and now I'm arresting my neighbors for standing up for our home town standing up for our home town the price of progress what have we lost? paying the cost of the price of progress working people working against each other how did we get here, is there another way, to pay the price of progress what have we lost? paying the cost of the price of progress
7.
Julia 04:30
Julia Julia Butterfly climbed a tree something every child does, but now her climb is history the logging company demanded that she move they claimed she was on their property how can anybody own a thousand year old life? in the canopy of an ancient redwood tree for two years she played her part she didn't set out to change the world she was just caring for her heart Julie, Julia It's not just you and me Julia, Julia our whole world is in that tree Julia Butterfly headed west without a plan after a car crash almost took her life at her first sight of ancient redwood trees she stopped wandering to climb in this holiest of temples she fell to her knees and cried she was no activist, not anti-corporate just not willing to betray her heart Julie, Julia It's not just you and me Julia, Julia our whole world is in that tree
8.
Divided We Die On a mountain of sorrow looking down on a country dark clouds gather like vultures in wait upon the cold wings of the last golden eagle we live or we die defending our love with power and pen all death and destruction is cast down to those who carry the load to take away life and any remembrance of what a man was before he believed I am the wolf, I am the warrior I fight for my family, I fight to survive have you forgotten that I am your brother? together we live, divided we die where is the air that carries all memories? where is the air that all things can breathe? if it is true that all life is sacred why is it so hard defending our love? bloody the path of war torn survivors broken and mangled and childless and lost all for some other man's fear and addiction what is the price of your brother's life? I am the wolf, I am the warrior I fight for my family, I fight to survive have you forgotten that I am your brother? together we live, divided we die
9.
Baltimore Burns Baltimore Burns as Dr King rolls in his grave and the dream that he gave us is buried along with him Baltimore Burns as preachers preach peace to ears that wouldn’t hear Jesus when he preached it in Palestine Baltimore Burns as Trevor hangs on a cross nobody saw because white sheets obscured their view Baltimore Burns as the thirteenth amendment is riddled with bullet holes at the police shooting range Baltimore burns as the world turns to stare at their screens, block out the nations’ screams Baltimore Burns as the first black President shakes hands with an oil executive and thanks him for the check that’s in the mail Baltimore Burns as most of the local fire brigade is conspicuously absent, watching from jail Baltimore Burns, no number two pencil could unravel the mystery of failing ghetto schools Baltimore Burns as the minimum wage still does not get raised and senators collect their pensions Baltimore burns as the world turns to stare at their screens, block out the nations’ screams Baltimore Burns, a new news cycle is born networks rise and fall on the tide of violence in our streets Baltimore Burns, now black lives really matter they’re raising the ratings with each window that they smash Baltimore burns as the world turns to stare at their screens, block out the nations’ screams
10.
Alive 03:55
Alive Chemicals course through your body draining your natural warmth leaving a pale reminder of what lies at the end of this story to cure you they must kill you one cell at a time something goes numb inside you as you feel each one die Will you be reborn? will you become a new creation? I've lost my religion, used up all my faith but I'm still standing, though my strength is shaken alive they lie every time you see them and look off into space they can't coldly deceive you while looking at your face who will pay the price? is the first question they ask calculating your survival into cold, hard cash Will you be reborn? will you become a new creation? I've lost my religion, used up all my faith but I'm still standing, though my strength is shaken alive do they feel a sense of power as they sentence you to hell? do they feel cheated when you die? do they ever lay awake all night long? and I wonder- do they ever cry? Will you be reborn? will you become a new creation? I've lost my religion, used up all my faith but I'm still standing, though my strength is shaken alive
11.
Fine Line Between Greatness and Desperation My father worked like some people love every job he did was do or die even if it hurt or was impossible a man DOES, a man doesn't try There's a fine line between greatness and desperation a fine line we never lived in the same town he'd moved on, mother scared him away she'd put me on a bus for hours to see him and I'd cry all the way There's a fine line between greatness and desperation a fine line I remember one time he took me hunting teach me how to shoot, hold a shotgun in my hands I wound up on the ground, the recoil too strong I was a child, but he didn't understand There's a fine line between greatness and desperation a fine line when he entered the room, he made sure you knew it drinks for the house every time he never got elected because of his record but he was the mayor of the bar for a while five foot eight but always seemed bigger until I saw him in that hospital bed pale and drawn and all but disappearing stark pillow halos around his head There's a fine line between greatness and desperation a fine line
12.
Where Are You Tonight Fallen Angel? I searched all the worst motels around every grungy hole in this whole town I asked the beat cop and the liquor store guy I even gave the hospital a try Where are you tonight fallen angel? are you looking at the same fallen star in the same sky as I? I walked the docks where the men come to pray prostrate to the gods of despair and pain where they don't even want to know your name as they ride with you to hell on the devil's burning train Where are you tonight fallen angel? are you looking at the same fallen star in the same sky as I? maybe you are that star, is it all you ever dreamed of? do you ever feel afraid when you fall? or is the night sky just so high that you don't care? and when I find you will it matter much at all? Where are you tonight fallen angel? are you looking at the same fallen star in the same sky as I?

credits

released April 7, 2017

Recorded and mixed at Woody’s House in Croton on Hudson, NY by Fred Gillen Jr, 2016/ 2017
Mastered by Carl Saff saffmastering.com

photo credits: Jason Hess, Eric Peterson, Fred Gillen Jr., Angus Webster
cover design: Jeffry Braun
cover concept: T-shirt by Joannie Hannigan

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Fred Gillen Jr Peekskill, New York

NYFA grant recipient Fred Gillen Jr has released 9 full-length albums, and 5 ep’s, has toured all over the U.S. and Europe solo, and Nepal and India with Greenheart. His songs have been on ABC's "All My Children," NPR's "Car Talk," CMJ, and his version of Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home" was featured on "Pete Remembers Woody," a collection of Pete Seeger's spoken stories about Woody Guthrie. ... more

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