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A Strike Song - Riffs and Licks
steelbrassnwood
steelbrassnwood
A Strike Song
Just in time for its conclusion, I've written a song about the transit strike. The song is still pertinent, though, since the issues raised by the strike aren't going to go away when service returns.

I've taken some creative license but for the most part, the song is true. It came out of conversation with my family over the weekend, being bothered by the disproportionately hostile reactions to the strikers, and listening to a lot of Johnny Cash. Both the rhythm and the attitude of this song owe a great deal to The Man In Black.



A Little Bit More
Copyright © 2005 Ken Ficara


My grandfather was a token clerk; it was the first decent job he had
He bought a house, sent his son to school
He was the family's first college grad
He got an engineering degree, went to work for NYC
And that subway pay made a good life for my brother and me

My grandfather moved up out of the booth
To the same building as his son
He counted change in the money room
And my dad supervised construction
They kept the trains moving and the trains moved them up
My dad was born in a tenement: that's not where I grew up
From manual labor to the Internet in two generations

Now I can't get to work because of the strike
It's 20 degrees and I'm riding my bike
These transit worker benefits are better than mine
So what do I say to these picket lines? I say

I got mine, and you deserve yours
You're the last ones standing in the labor wars
We're losing the benefits our fathers fought for
Good for you for trying to give your kids a little bit more
Father and son were both out of the union
When the strike came in sixty-six
They walked to work together every day
In the wind on the Brooklyn Bridge
By the next one in seventy-five
My grandfather had retired
He got to stay home and rest
After working hard all his life

Now my dad's enjoying his retirement too
But when I'm his age I don't know what I'll do
I got no pension plan, benefits are few
So should I hope that these transit workers get screwed too?

I got mine, and you deserve yours
You're the last ones standing in the labor wars
We're losing the benefits our fathers fought for
Good for you for trying to give your kids a little bit more

The mayor's calling them greedy thugs
Strange to hear that from a billionaire. (Hey Mike)
Where were you when they cut transit funding? You didn't seem to care
For the workers you ain't got no pay
But for developers you give it away
Why didn't you get this tough when that stadium land was in play?

Let's stop picking on the people cleaning the tracks
Tell Albany we want our funding back
Give our fares and taxes back to NYC
The workers deserve it and so do we

I got mine, and you deserve yours
You're the last ones standing in the labor wars
We're losing the benefits our fathers fought for
Good for you for trying to give your kids a little bit more

So I've worked hard for what I've got
And I'm proud of what my family's done
But I don't think we would have got this far
Without those subways moving us along
Now there's other people working those trains
Hoping they can say the same
Hoping to make a better life for their daughters and their sons

I got mine, and you deserve yours
You're the last ones standing in the labor wars
We're losing the benefits our fathers fought for
Good for you for trying to give your kids a little bit more
Good for you for trying to give us all a little bit more


You can hear it, and download it for free, at www.kenficara.com

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Comments
From: laurie_daniels Date: December 24th, 2005 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)
EXCELLENT job, Ken. The recording on this is fantastic; it sounds like it was done on one track, but I know that couldn't be so because of the balance between the vocals and guitar/harmonica, right? You either have a great ear for mixing (i can't imagine when you'd have the time!), or you played it through live and somehow managed to get it sounding better than live through some act of Divinity.

No matter how you got the sound, it's a great track. i hope you are as proud as you should be, which is pretty godamned proud from my perspective.

steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: December 24th, 2005 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Actually it was recorded as three tracks -- I did the guitar, then the vocals, then the harp. I sometimes do the guitar and vocal together, but this song was too new. Mixing it didn't take much time; I've done a lot of recording with this setup so I know what I'm doing, or at least I think I do so I don't spend lots of time futzing. And recording everything separately does make it easier to sound "better than live" -- the levels are always right and you can put the right effects on each instrument. And yes, I was pretty happy about getting that written, recorded and posted inside of a day (and just in time, since the strike was settled as I was working on it!).
rednoodlealien From: rednoodlealien Date: December 24th, 2005 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, with topicality like that, you could write for South Park (who have a knack for airing Weds. night episodes on events that happened only days earlier).
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: December 24th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Although one thing I'm not proud of is the egregious historical error -- I got my strikes mixed up. There was no transit strike in 1975; that was a teacher's strike. The second transit strike was in 1980.
4 comments or Leave a comment