Folks Songs for Classical Liberals

by Russ Roberts on February 1, 2006

in Music

I was talking to my students last night about inspirational education—writing or music that not only informs but inspires.  And I wondered out loud with them about why there isn’t an economics or free market folk song.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have one?

I’d sing it all day.  I’d play it on the guitar.  I’d teach it to my children.

Consider the song about Joe Hill, that Joan Baez popularized:

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you’re ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain’t dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain’t dead."
"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn’t die"
Says Joe "I didn’t die"
And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"
From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it’s there you find Joe Hill,
it’s there you find Joe Hill!
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you’re ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Now I’m not a big fan of labor unions.  I think they help some workers at the expense of others.  I think they can allow racism to flourish.  I think they make the workplace less flexible, less creative and more bureaucratic and rule-burdened.  But when I sing Joe Hill or hear it, I get goose bumps.

Where is the song that captures some inspiring aspect of economics from a Hayekian perspective? 

Why isn’t there such a song?  (Or better yet, a musical.  I once heard a song from a proposed musical for Ayn Rand’s Anthem.  It was a magnificent song from a student at the Eastman School of Music.  If anyone knows what happened to that student or that project, I’d sure like to know.)

One answer is that most economists are left-brained folk.  And there’s some truth to that.  But I think it has more to do with the seen and the unseen.  It’s easy to write a song about Aragon MIll closing down and the resulting hardship.  (Lyrics here, beautiful version by the Red Clay Ramblers here.) It’s harder to write a song that shows what flourished because of creative destruction.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.

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geoff manne February 1, 2006 at 4:19 pm

There is, of course, The Trees by Rush:

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

Not exactly a "folk" song, but it captures the essence of public choice quite nicely.

geoff manne February 1, 2006 at 4:31 pm

Also not a folk song, but Bob Dylan's Neighborhood Bully is the best pro-Israel song there is (with some nice classical liberal points along the way):

Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.

Michael Giesbrecht February 1, 2006 at 5:57 pm

Oingo Boingo's (Danny Elfman) "Capitalism" is a pretty good song.

There’s nothing wrong with capitalism
There’s nothing wrong with free enterprise
Don’t try to make me feel guilty
I’m so tired of hearing you cry

There’s nothing wrong with making some profit
If you ask me I’ll say it’s just fine
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live nice
I’m so tired of hearing you whine
About the revolution
Bringin’ down the rich
When was the last time you dug a ditch, baby!

If it ain’t one thing
Then it’s the other
Any cause that crosses your path
Your heart bleeds for anyone’s brother
I’ve got to tell you you’re a pain in the ass

You criticize with plenty of vigor
You rationalize everything that you do
With catchy phrases and heavy quotations
And everybody is crazy but you

You’re just a middle class, socialist brat
From a suburban family and you never really had to work
And you tell me that we’ve got to get back
To the struggling masses (whoever they are)
You talk, talk, talk about suffering and pain
Your mouth is bigger than your entire brain
What the hell do you know about suffering and pain . . .

(repeat first verse)

(repeat chorus)

There’s nothing wrong with capitalism
There’s nothing wrong with capitalism
There’s nothing wrong with capitalism
There’s nothing wrong with capitalism

Wild Pegasus February 1, 2006 at 6:29 pm

Beatles – "Taxman"

Let me tell you how it will be
It's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

Should five percent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman

If you drive car, I'll tax the street.
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat.
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Taxman!

'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman

Don't ask me what I want it for (ah-ah Mr Wilson)
If you don't want to pay some more (ah-ah Mr. Heath)
'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die (taxman!)
Declare the pennies on your eyes (Taxman!)
'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me…

- Josh

Scott Scheule February 1, 2006 at 6:31 pm

Economists should consider commissioning such a folk song.

Robert Cote February 1, 2006 at 6:43 pm

Robert Hazard, "Escalator of Life"

http://www.phillyrockers.com/robert_hazard_and_the_heroes/rhath_video_clips/escalator_video.mpeg

They got my Mazda at the E-Z Park It
At the rock & roll supermarket
Muzak music make me feel so funny
I went and spent all my money
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all
We want it all
Escalator of life – up and down
Escalator of life – round and round
There's 111 choices
Don't listen to those little voices
I don't let the guilty feeling shake me
You can have your cake and eat it baby
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all
Hey girl, I'm a personal friend of Gloria Vanderbilt
I got all the gold in the world around my neck
Come ride the steel dinosaur
Run wild in the jungle
Its a Zulu Nation
Seduction, sacrifice, a new sensation
Nothing ever changes
We're riding on the escalator of life
We're shopping in the human mall
We're dancing on the escalator of life
Won't be happy 'til we have it all

Kevin February 1, 2006 at 6:47 pm

eeewwwww, folk music sucks. The fact that that's the end-product of a bunch of white people singing at each other is the best argument for the benefits of diversity.

liberty February 1, 2006 at 8:43 pm

those are some great songs. Keep em coming!

JT February 1, 2006 at 9:07 pm

Again, not a folk song (and not really a good song), but "Freewill" by Rush hits the mark:

You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will

anon February 1, 2006 at 10:49 pm

[v1]
Call it libertarian because we do as we please
Don't need fear of force or farce to know morality
Morals aren't a substance you can shove in someone's ear
They're basically a byproduct of reason true and clear

[v2]
It's nothing like The Bible, there's no lesson to be learned
It ain't the 10 commandments; nothing's written in stone
It has to do with freedom and personal liberty:
I don't f*** with you. Don't f*** with me.

[bridge]
The blueprints of a better world
Were written on a postage stamp
No one bothered to read the front
Stick out their tongue to lick the back

If you're not part of the cure
You're part of the disease
Father time will tell us who concedes

The blueprints of a better world
Disguised and revealed as fortunes
10,000 Chinese restaurant customers prefer not to read it
When they're taught – don't think, just eat it
A turning point we call the plan

Jim McCarthy February 2, 2006 at 1:56 am

What about the song "(Nothing But) Flowers by Talking Heads… Am I wrong or isn't it a rebuke to anti-market environmentalism? It's wry and sarcastic, yes, but the message is there. Plus, it's a catchy tune…

(Nothing But) Flowers
Talking Heads

Here we stand
Like an Adam and an Eve
Waterfalls
The Garden of Eden
Two fools in love
So beautiful and strong
The birds in the trees
Are smiling upon them
From the age of the dinosaurs
Cars have run on gasoline
Where, where have they gone?
Now, it's nothing but flowers

There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
you got it, you got it

We caught a rattlesnake
Now we got something for dinner
we got it, we got it

There was a shopping mall
Now it's all covered with flowers
you've got it, you've got it

If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower
you've got it, you've got it

Years ago
I was an angry young man
I'd pretend
That I was a billboard
Standing tall
By the side of the road
I fell in love
With a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it's only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it's nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we'd start over
But I guess I was wrong

Once there were parking lots
Now it's a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it

This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it

I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
you got it, you got it

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
you got it, you got it

I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
you got it, you got it

We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
you got it, you got it

This was a discount store,
Now it's turned into a cornfield
you got it, you got it

Don't leave me stranded here
I can't get used to this lifestyle

Russell Nelson February 2, 2006 at 2:03 am

There's also the Rush tune Anthem:

Know your place in life is where you want to be
Don’t let them tell you that you owe it all to me
Keep on looking forward, no use in looking ’round

Hold your head above the ground and they won’t bring you
Down

Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
New wonders in the world, wonders in the world,
Wonders in the world they wrought

Live for yourself — there’s no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
Only cry out for more

Well, I know they’ve always told you
Selfishness was wrong
Yet it was for me, not you, i
Came to write this song

Lauren Yuille February 2, 2006 at 6:41 am

"Refugee" by Tom Petty is often referred to by Dr. Gary Wolfram at Hillsdale College during his lectures about how "you don't have to live like a refugee" under a system of well-defined and enforced property rights. I'm not sure if that's what the song is about, but Dr. Wolfram's interpretation is certainly correct.

We got some thin’ we both know it,
We don’t talk too much about it
Ain’t no real big secret, all the same,
Somehow we get around it

Listen, it don’t really matter to me
Baby, you believe what you wanna believe
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have
Kicked you around some
Tell me why you wanna lay there,
Revel in your abandon

Honey, it don’t make no difference to me
Baby, everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee
No baby, you don’t have to live like a refugee

Baby, we ain’t the first
I’m sure a lot of other lovers been burned
Right now this ain’t real to you
It’s one of those things you got to feel to be true

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have
Kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped,
Tied-up, taken away, and held for ransom

Honey, it don’t really matter to me
Baby, everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee
No, you don’t have to live like a refugee
Baby, you don’t have to live like a refugee

Alton February 2, 2006 at 6:43 am

A fun post; makes me wonder if there are economics or free market bumper stickers also. I've not had the chance to read your link to the concept of "the seen and not seen". Christianity once taught and inspired through music and song. Hey, what am I saying: I still remember songs and tunes from Sunday School(I guess they did not take hold).

Collectivist tunes inspire because they speak of pain and tend to be meditations toward relief of suffering. I can't see the new folk hit, "creative destruction", sung at a "sit-in" of the most devoted economics students. Singing out the 'tax man' can interest some minds, but crooning 'stop the violence' wins heats, thus the minds will follow.

Tim Worstall February 2, 2006 at 7:28 am

Two ideas:

Information Overload, while talking about advertising, nicely encapsulates the Hayekian point that no central authority can process enough information to make decent decisions:

too many messages multi media sponge
too many to address I guess
you could say I'm out lunch
television tells me what to think.
I don't even realise I know nothing

nothing at all
nothing at all
I know nothing

Mulder tells me what to think
lunatics what would they know
coke can tell me what to drink
I can consume with nothing to show
Jerry makes me feel better
I call them all freaks and do the Jerry call
nothing makes you realise I know nothing
nothing at all

I know nothing
nothing, nothing
you won't know nothing

I took with one hand and pushed
away with the other
still my cup overflows
can't make up my mind one way
or the other information overload

can't make up my mind

Or there is the wonderful point made somewhere out on the web in the last few days. Not so much the lyrics of the song, just the sheer glory of it. When someone questions liberty, freedom, the pursuit of happiness and so on, simply slap down a copy of "The Sloop John B" and say "We did that. Come back when you’re ready".

This also works with "Lust for Life".

Al February 2, 2006 at 7:55 am

Classical music composers like the Eastman kid tend to be left brainers, too. They tend to be better at math than English, and they play with numbers a lot, and translate them into notes later.

If you could locate some poetry about Hayekian themes you could probably convince a composer to set it. It wouldn't be folk music, though, which sounds like what you like.

Fatty February 2, 2006 at 8:16 am

"Don't Call Me White"

Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white

The connotations wearing my nerves thin
Could it be semantics generating the mess we're in?
I understand that language breeds stereotype
But what's the explanation for the malice, for the spite?

Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white

I wasn't brought here, I was born
Circumsized, categorized, allegiance sworn,
Does this mean I have to take such shit
For being fairskinned? No!
I ain't a part of no conspiracy,
I'm just you're average Joe.

Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white

Represents everything I hate,
The soap shoved in your mouth to cleanse the mind
The vast majority of sheep
A buttoned collar, starched and bleached
Constricting veins, the blood flow to the brain slows
They're so fuckin' ordinary white

Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white

We're better off this way
Say what you're gonna say
So go ahead and label me
An asshole cause I can
Accept responsibility, for what I've done
But not for who I am

Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white
Don't call me white, Don't call me white

Randy February 2, 2006 at 9:26 am

Not a song, but I recommend the series Firefly and the followon movie Serenity. With lines like;

"They couldn't let us profit, that would be uncivilized".

or my favorite scene,

Student; "Why would they resist us when we where only trying to bring them the benefits of civilization….Why would they fight us so hard?"

River Tam; "Because we meddle….People don't like it when we meddle…and we haven't got the right."

And the theme song for the series is pretty good too.

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me
Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me
There's no place I can be
Since I found Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me…

Steve Horwitz February 2, 2006 at 9:51 am

I sent Russ a bunch of Rush lyrics links by email, but no one has yet posted "Something for Nothing":

Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow's end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways
You pass the days

Waiting for someone to call
And turn your world around
Looking for an answer
To the question you have found
Looking for
An open door

You don't get something for nothing
You can't have freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story
In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your own song

You don't get something for nothing
You can't have freedom for free
You won't get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

Hayekians might also check out "Natural Science": http://www.lyricscafe.com/r/rush/043.htm

R.J. Lehmann February 2, 2006 at 12:10 pm

Though the authors (Marvin Gaye and Sting, respectively) certainly wouldn't have shared my politics, I always thought there were some great individualist and anti-state messages in the ostensibly lefty tunes "Inner City Blues" and "Spirits in the Material World":

Inner City Blues

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
'Fore we see it, you take it

Oh, make you wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
This ain't livin', This ain't livin'
No, no baby, this ain't livin'
No, no, no

Inflation, no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die

Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Dah, dah, dah

Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
I can't pay my taxes

Oh, make me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands
Yea, it makes me wanna holler
And throw up both my hands

Crime is increasing
Trigger happy policing
Panic is spreading
God know where we're heading

Oh, make me wanna holler
They don't understand
Dah, dah, dah

***

Spirits in the Material World

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
The subjugate the meek
But it’s the rhetoric of failure

We are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world
Are spirits in the material world

Where does the answer lie?
We live from day to day
If it’s something we can’t buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world…

Steve Horwitz February 2, 2006 at 2:04 pm

Another great Police song:

THE POLICE
MURDER BY NUMBERS

Once that you've decided on a killing
First you make a stone of your heart
And if you find that your hands are still willing
Then you can turn a murder into art

There really isn't need for bloodshed
You just do it with a little more finesse
If you can slip a tablet into someone's coffee
Then it avoids an awful lot of mess

It's murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC

Now if you have a taste for this experience
And you're flushed with your very first success
Then you must try a twosome or a threesome
And you'll find your conscience bothers you much less

Because murder is like anything you take to
It's a habit-forming need for more and more
You can bump off every member of your family
And anybody else you find a bore

Because it's murder by numbers one two three
It's as easy to learn as your ABC

Now you can join the ranks of the illustrious
In history's great dark hall of fame
All our famous killers were industrious
At least the ones that we all know by name

But you can reach the top of your profession
If you become the leader of the land
For murder is the sport of the elected
And you don't need to lift a finger of your hand

liberty February 2, 2006 at 8:19 pm

Nobody has posted any country yet. They are very pro-America and many cross over to the American values of independent spirit, frontier, hence free market, low taxes, etc. — of course some are also protectionist, pro-union etc, but at least there is a decent mix.

Here is a recent, sort of political one:

Gretchen Wilson – Politically Uncorrect Lyrics

I'm for the low man on the totem pole
And I'm for the underdog god bless his soul
And I'm for the guys still pulling third shift
and the single mom raising her kids
And I'm for the preacher who stay on their knees
And I'm for the sinner who finally believed
And I'm For the farmer with dirt on his hands
And the soldiers who fight for this land

And I'm for the bible
And I'm for the flag
And I'm for the working man
Me and Ol' hag
I'm just one of many who can't get no respect
Politically Uncorrect

I guess my opinion is all out of style
Don't get me started because i can get wild
And I'll make a fight for the fore-father's plan (That's Right)
Hell the world already knows where I stand

And I'm for the bible
And I'm for the flag
And I'm for the working man
Me and Ol' hag
I'm just one of many who can't get no respect
Politically Uncorrect

Nothing Wrong with the bible
Nothing Wrong with the flag
Nothing Wrong with the working man
Me and Ol' Hag
We're just some of many that can't get no respect
Politically Uncorrect
Politically Uncorrect

And here is a more classic example:

Artist/Band: Brooks And Dunn
Lyrics for Song: Only in America
Lyrics for Album: Greatest Hits Collection 2
Sun coming up over New York City
School bus driver in a traffic jam
Starin' at the faces in her rearview mirror
Looking at the promise of the Promised Land
One kid dreams of fame and fortune
One kid helps pay the rent
One could end up going to prison
One just might be president

Only in America
Dreaming in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Sun going down on an La. freeway
Newlyweds in the back of a limousine
A welder's son and a banker's daughter
All they want is everything
She came out here to be an actress
He was the singer in a band
They just might go back to Oklahoma
And talk about the stars they could have been

Only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Only in America
Where we dream as big as we want to
We all get a chance
Everybody gets to dance
Only in America

Yeah only in America
Where we dream in red, white and blue
Yeah we dream as big as we want to

averagejoe February 2, 2006 at 9:40 pm

My vote is for the Tax Man. How about putting the 'Little Red Hen' to music?

Marshall S February 2, 2006 at 10:07 pm

How about Louis Armstrong's rendition of "Hello Brother"? It's all in the first line.

HELLO BROTHER
(George Weiss / Bob Thiele)

A man wants to work for his pay
A man wants a place in the sun
A man wants a gal proud to say
That she'll become his lovin' wife
He wants a chance to give his kids a better life, yes
Well hello, hello, hello brother

You can travel all around the world and back
You can fly or sail or ride a railroad track
But no matter where you go you're gonna find
That people have the same things on their minds


Oh and for the person looking for bumper stickers, etc. check out: http://bureaucrash.com/contraband

Helen's_kid February 3, 2006 at 1:18 am

This is why I'm warped.

Les Miserables Soundtrack Lyrics
Artist: M. & Mme. Thenardie Lyrics
Song: Master of the House Lyrics
DRINKER THREE
Come on you old pest

DRINKER TWO
Fetch a bottle of your best

DRINKER ONE
What's the nectar of the day?

(Thenardier enters with a flask of wine)

THENARDIER
Here, try this lot
Guaranteed to hit the spot
Or I'm not Thenardier

DRINKERS
Gissa glass a rum
Landlord, over here!

THENARDIER
Right away, you scum (to himself)
Right away, m'sieur (to customer)

DINER ONE
God this place has gone to hell

DINER TWO
So you tell me every year

DRINKER SIX
Mine host Thenardier
He was there so they say,
At the field of Waterloo

DRINKER SEVEN
Got there, it's true
When the fight was all through

DRINKER ONE
But he knew just what to do
Crawling through the mud
So I've heard it said
Picking through the pockets
Of the English dead

DRINKER EIGHT
He made a tidy score
From the spoils of war

THENARDIER
My band of soaks
My den of dissolutes
My dirty jokes, my always pissed as newts.
My sons of whores
Spent their lives in my inn
Homing pigeons homing in
They fly through my doors
And their money's as good as yours

DINER ONE
Ain't got a clue
What he put in this stew
Must have scraped it off the street

DINER TWO
God what a wine!
Chateau Neuf de Turpentine
Must have pressed it with his feet

DRINKERS
Landlord over here!
Where's the bloody man?
One more for the road!
Thenardier, one more slug o' gin.

GIRL
Just one more, or my old man is gonna do me in.

(Thenardier greets a new customer)

THENARDIER
Welcome, M'sieur
Sit yourself down
And meet the best
Innkeeper in town
As for the rest,
All of 'em crooks
Rooking their guests
And cooking the books.
Seldom do you see
Honest men like me
A gent of good intent
Who's content to be

Master of the house
Doling out the charm
Ready with a handshake
And an open palm
Tells a saucy tale
Makes a little stir
Customers appreciate a bon-viveur
Glad to do a friend a favor
Doesn't cost me to be nice
But nothing gets you nothing
Everything has got a little price!

Master of the house
Keeper of the zoo
Ready to relieve 'em
Of a sou or two
Watering the wine
Making up the weight
Pickin' up their knick-knacks
When they can't see straight
Everybody loves a landlord
Everybody's bosom friend
I do whatever pleases
Jesus! Won't I bleed 'em in the end!

THENARDIER & CHORUS
Master of the house
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passerby
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher,
And lifelong mate!
Everybody's boon companion
Everybody's chaperone

THENARDIER
But lock up your valises
Jesus! Won't I skin you to the bone!

(To another new customer)

THENARDIER
Enter M'sieur
Lay down your load
Unlace your boots
And rest from the road

(Taking his bag)

This weighs a ton
Travel's a curse
But here we strive
To lighten your purse
Here the goose is cooked
Here the fat is fried
And nothing's overlooked
Till I'm satisfied…

Food beyond compare
Food beyond belief
Mix it in a mincer
And pretend it's beef
Kidney of a horse
Liver of a cat
Filling up the sausages
With this and that

Residents are more than welcome
Bridal suite is occupied
Reasonable charges
Plus some little extras on the side!

Charge 'em for the lice
Extra for the mice
Two percent for looking in the mirror twice
Here a little slice
There a little cut
Three percent for sleeping with the window shut
When it comes to fixing prices
There are a lot of tricks he knows
How it all increases
All those bits and pieces
Jesus! It's amazing how it grows!

THENARDIER AND CHORUS
Master of the house
Quick to catch yer eye
Never wants a passerby
To pass him by
Servant to the poor
Butler to the great
Comforter, philosopher,
And lifelong mate!
Everybody's boon companion
Gives 'em everything he's got

THENARDIER
Dirty bunch of geezers
Jesus! What a sorry little lot!

MME. THENARDIER
I used to dream
That I would meet a prince
But God Almighty,
Have you seen what's happened since?
`Master of the house?'
Isn't worth me spit!
`Comforter, philosopher'
- and lifelong shit!
Cunning little brain
Regular Voltaire
Thinks he's quite a lover
But there's not much there
What a cruel trick of nature
Landed me with such a louse
God knows how I've lasted
Living with this bastard in the house!

THENARDIER & CHORUS
Master of the house.

MME. THENARDIER
Master and a half!

THENARDIER & CHORUS
Comforter, philosopher

MME. THENARDIER
Ah, don't make me laugh!

THENARDIER & CHORUS
Servant to the poor. Butler to the great.

MME. THENARDIER
Hypocrite and toady and inebriate!

THENARDIER & CHORUS
Everybody bless the landlord!
Everybody bless his spouse!

THENARDIER
Everybody raise a glass

MME. THENARDIER
Raise it up the master's arse.

ALL
Everybody raise a glass to the master of the house!

liberty February 3, 2006 at 2:18 am

>Oh and for the person looking for bumper stickers, etc. check out: http://bureaucrash.com/contraband

Awesome shirts! Just bought the Marx one!!

SteffenH February 3, 2006 at 8:10 am

Maybe I got the meaning of the lyrics of "Green Disease" by Pearl Jam (!) wrong, but it sounds like a anti-doomsdayer song:

t's a disease and they're all green. Pearl
It emminates from their being.
Agitation with occupation.
And like weeds with big leaves. Jam
Stealing light from what's beneath.
Where they have more. Still they take more. Green

Course I know. Then I don't.
There's a stoway with my throat. Disease
It's deceiving. I don't believe him.
We can scream out our doors. Songtexte
Behind the wall a fat man snores.
In his dreams he's choking on leaves. Songtext

Well I guess there's nothing wrong with what you say. Lyrics
But don't sell me, "There can't be better ways." Lyric
Tell the captain "This boat's not safe, and we're drowning." Liedertexte
Turns up he's the one making waves. Waves. Waves.

I said there's nothing wrong with what you say. Liedertext
Believe me just asking you to sway.
No white or black just grey. Alle
Can you feel this world with your heart and not your brain?

What do you think?

Chuck Sicotte February 3, 2006 at 2:18 pm

"It Works for Me"-A recent favorite of mine by Toby Keith. Sing it loud Russ.

Never owned a brand new car
Never worked in a white collar
Never held a woman longer
Than I held one single dollar
I never went out chasin’ rainbows
’cause there can’t be that much to it
Even if I found my pot of gold
I know I’d piss right through it

I can’t remember ever wanting
For one second of my life
Even if I did it cost too much
To ever pay the price
I don’t dance out on the dark side
Ain’t no secrets I have to tell
So you don’t have to say a prayer for me
I just said one for myself

Chorus:
I’m livin’ my life
Under my terms
I’m callin’ the shots
As far as I can see
I don’t owe nobody nothin’
I don’t answer to a soul
Might not work for you
But it works for me

I’ve been bent and bruised and broken
And flat busted once or twice
I brought most of it upon myself
But I never compromised
My pride’s too hard to swallow
So I’ve chewed a lot of it
Mild-mannered and soft-hearted
And hard-headed as you get
I live out on the backroads
Where I walk my country mile
And if it’s so good in the city
Why don’t anybody smile?
The traffic’s always heavy
And the air ain’t fit to breathe
I ain’t saying that it’s wrong for you
It just don’t make sense to me

Chorus

C February 3, 2006 at 4:18 pm

Bob Dylan's lyrics are a bit obscure, but I like to think of his "Chimes of Freedom" as a song of hope for those struggling under totalitarianism. (BTW, the song was recorded best by the Byrds.)

Far between sundown's finish an' midnight's broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An' for each an' ev'ry underdog soldier in the night
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden as the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin' rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an' forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin' constantly at stake
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An' the poet an the painter far behind his rightful time
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

In the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an' blind, tolling for the mute
For the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an' cheated by pursuit
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Even though a clouds's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An' for each unharmfull, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Starry-eyed an' laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an' we watched with one last look
Spellbound an' swallowed 'til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an' worse
An' for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An' we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.

Dennis Gildea February 3, 2006 at 5:15 pm

Try, "Sunshine" by Jonathan Edwards.

A snippet from memory:

"Sunshine go away today
Don't feel much like dancin'
Sme man's gone, he's tried to run my life
Don't know what he's askin'

Workin' starts to make me wonder where
Fruits of what I do are goin
He say "In love and War
"All is Fair"
He's got cards he ain't showin . . ."

Also, "You Run Your Mouth (and I'll Run My Business") by Joe Jackson

"You Can't Push People Around" by Mose Allison.

liberty February 3, 2006 at 5:37 pm

he sure is a poet.

Monyet Miskin February 4, 2006 at 4:36 am

Here's a real folk song (none of your Yankee crap) "Belfast Mill" I know it from the Pogues version:

At the east end of town
At the foot of the hill
There's a chimney so tall
It says Belfast Mill.

But there's no smoke at all
Coming out of the stack
For the mill has shut down
And its never coming back.

Chorus:
And the only tune I hear
Is the sound of the wind
As she blows through the town
Weave and spin, weave and spin.

There's no children play
In the dark narrow streets
And the loom has shut down
It's so quiet I can't sleep.

The mill has shut down
'Twas the only life I know
Tell me what will I do
And where will I go.

For I'm too old to work
And I'm too young to die
Tell me where will I go
My family and I.

BTW, Not much difference between your libertarian songs and radical communist ones, are there?

Sheldon Richman February 4, 2006 at 10:02 am

I don't have a lyric to contribute, but I do want to suggest that maybe our attitude toward unions, labor actually, should be somewhat more nuanced. We libertarians have no trouble pointing out that a century and a half of corporate-state intervention helps to rigidify the economy: taxes and regulations are more easily coped with by big established companies than by small and potential contributors. These are barriers to entry. (It's not impossible to overcome them, but it is tougher.) Thus there is a built-in subsidy for incumbents. But if this is so, it means that workers have fewer options in the labor market than they would have under laissez faire. Fewer options means fewer potential employers bidding for their serves (and less chance for self-employment), which means lower wages. If this is so, we can hardly blame workers (however misguided) for trying to improve their lot within the current environment. This doesn't justify government intervention on their behalf. But when we criticize such intervention, we ought, at the same time, to criticize the corporate intervention that works to the prejudice of workers. We can hardly blame them for trying to get the most pay for the least exertion, when he praise business for trying to get the biggest return for the smallest expenditure. Let's keep the full context in mind.

Maureen February 4, 2006 at 1:28 pm

A pro-chainsaw folk song!

"Caretakers" by Bill Sutton

In a time of rising mountains,
In an age when life was new,
The trees were the rulers of life on earth
And the world as a forest grew.
New life found the forest,
And the new life tore the land.
So the dryad came to protect her wood
And stay the humans' hand.

Singing,
I am the strength of the heart and the root
I am the soul of the wood.

In a time of ancient mountains,
In an age no longer new,
A man walked into the hardwood wall
With a chainsaw and his crew.
He reached for the crippled oak tree
And he waved his crew to start,
When a vision leapt from the broken limb
That burst him through the heart.

Singing,
I am the strength of the heart and the root
I am the soul of the wood.

She was sun and moon and starlight,
She was earth and sky and sea,
She was everything that he ever loved
And all that he wished to be.
And she sang of the elder forest,
And she sang of the rustling wind,
And her arms reached out
from the jagged bark,
Reached out to pull him in.

Singing,
I am the strength of the heart and the root
I am the soul of the wood.

But the man pulled out an acorn,
And he held it to her eyes,
And he sang to her of birth and life,
And that even an oak must die.
And she knew that her tree had withered,
So she turned, no longer strong,
And she passed away as the chainsaw roar
Drowned out her final song.

Singing,
I am the strength of the heart and the root
I am the soul of the wood.

In a night under ancient mountains,
In a night under autumn sky,
A man looks down at a rotting stump
And he shakes his head and he sighs.
So he kneels to plant the acorn,
And he hears a quiet sound –
The sound of joy and a hope of spring
And new life in the ground.

Singing,
I am the strength of the heart and the root
I am the soul of the wood!

liberty February 4, 2006 at 3:44 pm

>BTW, Not much difference between your libertarian songs and radical communist ones, are there?

Sure there are. The Libertarian songs are about making your own life, the communist ones are weepy about not getting what you want. Your song is weepy about a lost job, rather than recognizing that people can move on and try something new, that sometimes the buggy whip factory has to close and it will be better for everyone that it does.

>taxes and regulations are more easily coped with by big established companies than by small and potential contributors. … workers have fewer options in the labor market than they would have under laissez faire…. Let's keep the full context in mind.

Big companies always have some advantages – we should limit the ones government gives them (eliminate them if possible) but we should not add to the problem by giving workers false advantages too. I have no problem with workers spontaniously (if misguidedly) unionizing; I do have a problem with giving them help from government. But even when companies have a big advantage, they also have disadvantages – they often change more slowly, they have already invested in certain technologies and can't change as quickly as a new entrant can create a better way – hence if there are no big anti-trust interventions, new entrants can compete both for customers and for workers.

Just because wwe don't have perfect laissez-faire doesn't mean we should compensate the rigities one one side with more rigitities on the other and compound the problem. That is the way that welfare states try to fix economic problems with more welfare and go down the road toward Socialism.

Good individualist song:

Cult of personality – Living Colour

look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality
I know your anger, i know your dreams
I've been everything you want to be
I'm the cult of personality
Like mussolini and kennedy
I'm the cult of personality
Cult of personality
Cult of personality

Neon lights, a nobel prize
The mirror speaks, the reflection lies
You don't have to follow me
Only you can set me free
I sell the things you need to be
I'm the smiling face on your t.v.
I'm the cult of personality
I exploit you still you love me

I tell you one and one makes three
I'm the cult of personality
Like joseph stalin and gandi
I'm the cult of personality
Cult of personality
Cult of personality

Neon lights a nobel prize
A leader speaks, that leader dies
You don't have to follow me
Only you can set you free

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You me power in your god's name
I'm every person you need to be
I'm the cult of personality
Look into my eyes, what do you see?
Cult of personality
I know your anger, i know your dreams
I've been everything you want to be
I'm the cult of personality
Like mussolini and kennedy
I'm the cult of personality
Cult of personality
Cult of personality

Neon lights, a nobel prize
The mirror speaks, the reflection lies
You don't have to follow me
Only you can set me free
I sell the things you need to be
I'm the smiling face on your t.v.
I'm the cult of personality
I exploit you still you love me

I tell you one and one makes three
I'm the cult of personality
Like joseph stalin and gandi
I'm the cult of personality
Cult of personality
Cult of personality

Neon lights a nobel prize
A leader speaks, that leader dies
You don't have to follow me
Only you can set you free

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You me power in your god's name
I'm every person you need to be
I'm the cult of personality

Kyle February 4, 2006 at 6:28 pm

Not an expert in the genre, but there's an awful lot of such stuff in the Filk community (Sci-fi fandom acquires folk music).

Lewis February 5, 2006 at 9:01 pm

From Bonnie Raitt’s albumn Souls Alike

I Will Not be Broken

That was then and this is now
I found my way back here somehow
Knew you'd have to let me go
I told you once I told you so

chorus;
Take me down
You can hold me but you
Can't hold what's within
Pull me round
Push me to the limit
Maybe I may bend
But I know where I'm not going
I will not be broken
I will not be broken
I will not be…

Someone other than who I am
I will fight to make my stand
Cause what is livin' if I can't live free
What is freedom if I can't be me

(chorus)

I won't let you near it
I will let my spirit fly
Fly
High
Oh take me down

Take me down
You can hold me but you
Can't hold what's within
Pull me round
Push me to the limit
Maybe I may bend
But we both know where I'm not going
I will not be broken
I will not be broken
I will not be…

dagny February 7, 2006 at 10:50 am

I gotta say, being as I just spent the past hour or so arguing why "Imagine" is really a god-damn terrible song, I appreciate this thread quite a bit.

Also, everyone here should get the DVDs of Firefly & Serenity, there's some great libertarianish stuff there.

Lewis May 23, 2006 at 1:03 pm

"Blinded By The Darkness"
T-Bone Burnett
from his 2006 CD "The True False Identity"

The laws of God and the laws of man

The laws of man
They don't carry the same weight as the laws of God
Or the laws of nature
In the nomenclature

Do we want to inject the concept of sin
Into the Constitution?
Is this really necessary?
Does this not make you somewhat wary?
Shouldn't sin be left to the laws of God
And to the laws of nature?
Can we trust this to the legislature?

And shall we trust sin to the wisdom
Of the criminal justice system
Which can't handle the criminals we have now
Why create a whole new class of them?

Isn't crime dealt with by the laws of man?
Isn't sin dealt with by the laws of God?

If sin were dealt with by the laws of man
Everybody would be in jail for life
In solitary confinement
With no one to go his bail
Or would have gotten death
Maybe I should save my breath
But this lunacy is bound to fail

But there would be no one to get the food
Or run the machines
Mercy on us, dude

You shine your darkness on me
I am blinded by the darkness

In seven days God created evolution
When shall I expect retribution
From the counter revolution?

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