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Urgent Songs






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Song Lyrics:

Song lyrics from THE PEOPLE ARE IN CHARGE!


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I can’t imagine what it was like

To soar so majestically free —

A blanket of feathers on twenty-foot wings

Beyond all allegiance to the land and sea.

chorus: May we rise as high as a bird in the sky.

            See what the Redwoods can see.

            May we share the earth with love and respect;

            Live in harmony.

The Teratorn birds killed for their food

As predators prowled everywhere.

Then ice ages nearly extinguished all life,

But warm days returned and new hope filled the air.

bridge:  And there were no fences,

            No military bases,

            No pesticide poisons,

            No arms races.

repeat chorus

The big ancient birds are forever gone.

Their ghosts fly only in dreams:

Strange magical creatures that we’ve never seen

Whose shadows once loomed over woods and streams.

repeat chorus





Private jets are touching down.

Some badass dudes coming into town.

They like money, guns and chauffeured cars

And they don’t like singers with folk guitars.

Press and PR liaison teams.

Amazing spins for all their schemes.

We’ve got puppets, pamphlets, killer art

To welcome them before their meetings start.

chorus: And the money, the money buys lies.

            But the people have ears and eyes.

            Our numbers are growing large.

            The people are in charge.

            The people are in charge.

Signs and puppets cause offense.

The cops smash them up in self-defense.

If you get hit when the clubs come out,

You resisted arrest no doubt.

Five days wait for court in jail

Or sixty thousand dollars bail.

That’s five hundred bucks an hour.

They know the value of people power!

repeat chorus

Corporate press asks why we’re here

Must’ve missed our signs and every cheer.

Saw students, clergy, socialists,

Labor unions and ecologists!

Here’s a hot news flash for you —

The slow-to-get-it privileged few.

Everybody must be free.

This land was made for you and me.

repeat chorus





The Boy Scouts of America said

James’ membership must terminate,

Though he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout

And was a scout since the age of eight.

’Cause he’s an avowed homosexual,

Gay rights activist student.

And that’s something, need I say, they really, really hate.

chorus: On our honor we will do our best.

            Choose right over wrong.

             Join us if you’re morally straight,

             But if you’re gay, you can’t belong.

You’d think the Supreme Court would say

Such hateful rules cannot be made,

Although it barred Irish gays and lesbians

From the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The Court said they’ll be no gay scouts —

Hate speech became hate action.

They can kick the gay kids out; no need to be afraid.

repeat chorus


The scout code says be loyal; cheerful without caffeine;

Helpful, thrifty, friendly, brave, courteous and kind not mean;

Obedient, reverent and homophobic —

and always clean.

The Boy Scouts teach kids values

By which a righteous path is paved.

Like tolerance, respect for others,

While knots are tied and wood is shaved.

The scouts must think sweaty young gay boys

In shorts alone in tents

Might just bring their whole troop down — fiendish and depraved.

repeat chorus




A young girl in a book store

Lost in her imagination.

She could be anyone, go anywhere.

Real or not, she doesn’t care.

There’s no limitation, just words.

A young man in his first job

Tries to make a good impression.

Writing for the candidate:

Stretch it, twist it, fabricate.

That’s his new profession.  Just words.

chorus: Make a big thing small.

            Make a small thing big.

            Losers win with the right spin.

            Don’t look; just listen.

Nothing will lift your mood more than a

Trip to our big, new food store.

Fresh baked goodies preserved like new,

Radiated just for you.

Think it’s really food or just words?

TV news comes on again.

They missed the demonstration.

Some tycoon pardoned — how cool.

Gunfight at the preschool.

Bad news on every station.  More words.

repeat chorus

A voice of hope; a cry of fear.

Word from the tower to the bombardier.

The word of God in your good ear.

We know the clothes you’ve got to wear;

What safe opinions you should share.

Our personal goals make you a winner.

Learn to network your way through dinner.

Make others think you really care with just words.

You don’t need to worry about what’s false or true.

You’ll be told what you should know and

If it’s time for you to go

You’ll never see what hit you.  Just words.

repeat chorus





You can’t hide in your bed;

You can’t hide in your head.

They’ll run over you; you’ll be worse off than dead.

I’m talkin’ globalization, globalization.

Drug dealing, money stealing globalization blues.

They say forget your suspicions;

Work in sweatshop conditions.

Sew some more sneakers and guard these munitions.

It’s globalization, globalization.

People bashing, job smashing globalization blues.

They say your country’s in debt

And you’ve got to pay.

If you want to eat then do what we say.

That’s globalization, globalization.

Slave made, world trade globalization blues.

Since you can’t get away

Better fight them today.

From Seattle to Prague, Manila Bay to LA,

It’s globalization, globalization.

On the street, we’re gonna beat the globalization blues.





We’re marching to let them live;

Learning to forgive;

Praying for the grace to heal and grow.

There’s no sense in what they say:

Kill someone; make them pay.

Take a life to prove that killing’s wrong.

Electric chair; hang ’em high.

Another one condemned to die.

No chance to change; no chance to try.

Just an eye for an eye.

What government has the right;

What vigilante in the night

To judge someone and say that they must die?

Who even thinks the system’s fair

When it’s the poor strapped in the chair?

So few wealthy white men go to prison.

If everyone had food to eat,

Clothes to wear, a place to sleep,

A helping hand when things go wrong —

Think we might get along?

repeat first verse





I reached out with my other hand,

The one I never use to paint.

My brush found pathways in blazing new colors

And there was a message so real, so faint.

chorus: No matter how hard it gets

            Out there on your own,

            There’s enough love to make it right.

            We’re never really alone.

A senseless bullet, a twist of fate

And now he’ll never walk again.

His heart shows him how to dance in a new way.

He’s teaching and listening; he’s there for a friend.

repeat chorus

And we’re so much more than what we told ourselves before.

What the system says is true — does it work for you?

It’s buckle down, get a real job

Your checkbook shouldn’t be so low.

But artists aren’t savers, they’re seekers and dreamers

Of visions that open new worlds we could know.

repeat chorus





You know in the City of Newark

There’s a section called Ironbound

Full of restaurants, stores and houses

Getting treated like a dumping ground.

All alone on some urban street

People really get nervous at night.

It’s not muggers who scare you here —

There’s a monster loose in broad daylight!

chorus: The parks and the rivers,

            Every corner café —

            This city’s our home;

            We’re here to stay.

            A clean-up’s underway,

            We’re here to stay.

Big incinerator spewing stench.

It’s environmental robbery.

Burns thousands of tons a day and

Pays the owners like the lottery.

Now the fumes and the chemicals

Come crashing through the gates.

Lots of people getting sick.

Worst polluter in the Garden State!

repeat chorus

Lots of people are immigrants here.

Lots of people are short on cash.

They’re sprayed, betrayed and written off.

Left to burn, burn down like trash.

Now the spoilers plan to double the load.

Use the river to barge more in.

Well, this community is shutting them down.

We’re gonna fight, we’re gonna win.

repeat chorus





Crime is down they tell us now

Here’s a plan to really keep it low:

Get a job or into jail you go.

If the poor are all in prison,

They can’t beg for change or sleep outdoors.

At last the rich can finally feel secure.

chorus: Vote for prisons. Pay for prisons.

            Help keep America free today.

            For law and order, business profits —

            People must be locked away.

Hey there, Mr. CEO

Cut your costs and you’ll keep lots more dough.

The factory’s free; the wages nice and low.

When employee’s live in prison,

They don’t leave to murder or to rob

And it’s hard to start a union on the job.

repeat chorus

We were the land of freedom, opportunity and education.

Now with our prison population,

We’re the number one prison nation!

Civil rights, it’s gone too far.

You think building jails will do more good.

Keep the minorities out of your neighborhood.

But with all these prisons to fill,

Careful what you say and what you do

And pray the next one isn’t built for you.

repeat chorus





I threw an I-Ching and consulted the stars.

The crystals were all lit up with passionate fire.

I was thrilled to the bone when we finally spoke.

Was all this romance just mirrors and smoke?

chorus: You can’t tell a book by its cover.

                        You can’t tell a hero at birth.

                        You can’t tell love by an ooo-ee, baby.

                        You’ve got to jump in it to know what it’s worth!

You said that you’d love me forever and a day.

Guess pretty soon it seemed like forever to you.

And all that the omens and tea leaves could say

Was: Pack up you things and just run away.

repeat chorus

bridge:  Should you believe what you read in the papers?

            Can you believe what you see on TV?

            I once believed the lies you told me.

            Did you ever believe in me?

I fell in love too fast; I should’ve known better.

Guess I never got the real story on you.

Now I’m too sad to eat; I just stay home and pine.

You’re breaking my heart but restoring my waistline.

repeat chorus





You can die in old rags or in a tailored suit,

Try to understand or just play dumb and cute.

I looked in their think tanks and through a telescope;

Read a lot of poems and books on how to cope.

But when I felt your energy touch me in the night,

I found the power of love and light.

I found the power of love and light.

You can just see shadows and think you’ve seen it all;

Reach out for the stars; only learn to crawl.

They’re sure of their answers; no one hesitates.

But they stayed outside when we met at the gates.

You brought me on through and in your smile so warm and bright,

I found the power of love and light.

I found the power of love and light.

All your words and actions will always bear your name

And come back again like cards dealt in a game.

Now I see it clearly, I’m living just like you

Forming my future from everything I do.

From the time you opened up my heart and gave me sight,

I found the power of love and light.

I found the power of love and light.





Working together, standing together,

Take a big step to freedom.

Sisters and brothers building a union,

Take a big step to freedom.

chorus: Take a big step; take a big step;

            Take a big step to freedom.

            Sisters and brothers building a union

[always repeat third line of the

verse here],

            Take a big step to freedom.

Telling our stories, sharing our cultures,

Take a big step to freedom.

Singing the songs of our great labor history,

Take a big step to freedom.

repeat chorus (with: “Singing the songs...”)

Walking the line in support of each other,

Take a big step to freedom.

Each union victory, a victory for all,

Take a big step to freedom

repeat chorus (with: “Each union victory...”)

Finding our voices, feeling our power,

Take a big step to freedom.

A rainbow of people pulling together,

Take a big step to freedom.

repeat chorus (with: “A rainbow of people...”)


NOTE: “Big Step” works great with lyrics added for a particular strike or labor action. You can put two new lines into a verse and they don’t need to rhyme to work.

For example:

Janitors have families and families need to eat.

Take a big step to freedom.

We demand a contract with a living wage.

Take a big step to freedom.