Holly Tannen Mistress of Folklore
NAVIGATION for Holly Tannen Mistress of Folklore
Some of My Favorite Song Lyrics

Three songs from Holly's new CD,
The Flower Of Australia

JULIAN'S (In Prison)
Words © Holly Tannen 2011 
Tune: A Miner's Hymn      Durham, England

"I enjoy crushing bastards"  - Julian Assange

Who will crush the bastards now
Who will hold them to account
Who will keep alive his vow
When Julian's in prison

Who will risk their health and youth
To tell the people how it is
And who will dare to speak the truth
When Julian's in prison

Twenty years he loved the Net
Twenty years he made it his
Will we remember or forget
When Julian's in prison

 

THE GEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
An Unofficial WikiLeaks Multinational Anthem
Words © 2011 Holly Tannen             
Tune: Brisbane Ladies, Queensland, Australia

You geeks and geekettes who toil for your wages
At the edge of the vast electronic frontier
Too long have we slaved in our cubicle cages         
Too long have we all been imprisoned by fear.

When bankers get bonuses measured in millions
While midwives are jailed for assisting a birth
When generals lie about killing civilians
Then it's time for the geek to inherit the earth.

. . . .From Cairo to London, Beijing to Seattle
. . . .From Berkeley to Madison, Melbourne to Perth *
. . . .We'll boot up our laptops and gear up for battle
. . . .And the day that the geek shall inherit the earth.

Though envious critics hold us in derision,
And newspapers lie about what we have done
We'll network together and forge our new vision
And support one another until we have won.

In vain do they call for our death and damnation
In vain do they call us a terrorist threat
In vain do they lock us in cruel isolation
We'll still keep on spreading the truth on the net.

. . . .From Cairo to London, Beijing to Seattle
. . . .From Berkeley to Madison, Melbourne to Perth *
. . . .We'll boot up our laptops and gear up for battle
. . . .And the day that the geek shall inherit the earth.

When down-trodden prisoners are freed and befriended
We'll crown our success with music and mirth.
When the dreary Dork Ages have finally ended
Then the bold-hearted geek shall inherit the earth.
Then the bold-hearted geek shall inherit the earth.

* Feel free to change these lines to reflect current uprisings

 

THE FLOWER OF AUSTRALIA
Lyrics: © 2012 Holly Tannen 
Tune: Flowers of the Forest, traditional Scots pipe tune and lament

       

. . . .At the 2011 Splendour In The Grass festival in Byron Bay, Australia, Christine Assange called for musicians to write songs for her son. I wrote The Flower of Australia in response.
. . . .The tune was first notated by John Skene of Halyard as Flowres of the Forrest. Eighteenth-century poet Jean Elliot wrote the well-known lyrics, a lament for the deaths of James IV and his soldiers at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.
. . . .I swiped the line about the joy bells from an Irish song, The Maid of Coolmore.

. . . .. . . .I've heard them lilting, at the yowe-milking,
. . . .. . . .Lassies a-lilting before dawn o' day
. . . .. . . .Now they are moaning on ilka green loaning,
. . . .. . . .The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away

I've heard them singing, heard the joy bells ringing
Young women singing at clear light of day
Now they are weeping, embracing and lamenting
The Flower of Australia is stolen away

I've seen him smiling, the lasses' hearts beguiling
Laughing and smiling at work and at play
Now he is taken, dishonoured and forsaken
The Flower of Australia is stolen away

I've felt him near me, imagined he could hear me
Felt him beside me, his eyes wise and grey.
How can he reach me, embolden me and teach me
The Flower of Australia is stolen away

I've seen them dancing, rejoicing and romancing
Dreaming a new world, young women and men.
But long shall his mother look o'er the western ocean
Before she sees her own son return home again.

Listen to Holly sing songs from her new CD
CLICK HERE

     I will be happy to work with you to create a workshop designed for your folk club, school, or festival. If there is a specific topic you would like me to address, I often can research it if you give me two to three months advance no

THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE INTERNATIONAL SUBVERSIVES
(The Wank Worm Song)
Words © 2011 Holly Tannen
Tune: The Battle Hymn Of The Republic

. . . .Cape Canaveral, Florida. October 1989. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, is about to launch the space probe Galileo headed for Jupiter, powered by 34.4 pounds of plutonium. Three years earlier, the Challenger shuttle blew up on the launching pad, killing all the astronauts aboard, so Florida residents are twitchy about the possibility of a nuclear accident, and take to the streets in protest. NASA ignores them.
. . . .However, on the other side of the planet, in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, three teenage boys are learning how to program their new computers. They call themselves the International Subversives.
. . . .Young Mendax has created a program that gives him access to the complete United States military internet. Late one night, reading the email of the generals, he learns about the protestors and decides to help them. He creates a computer worm that makes system files seem to disappear, though it doesn't actually delete or damage anything.
. . . .This is the true story of the worm that wanked NASA.

There were three gallant Aussie lads who formed a strong alliance
Against the Yankee nukes they were united in defiance
One said, "I'll tackle NASA - hey, it can't be rocket science."
The truth shall piss them off.

CHORUS:. .. International Subversives
. . . .. . . .. . . .International Subversives
. . . .. . . .. . . .International Subversives
. . . .. . . .. . . .The truth shall piss them off.

It was a bright October day in 1989
The brass at Cape Canaveral were feeling mighty fine
Systems all were go and everybody was online.
The truth shall piss them off.

Back in the Antipodes the world was fast asleep
The spotty teenage hacker dude began his midnight creep
He opened up the system files of NASA for a peep.
The truth shall piss them off.

Suddenly across the screen of every engineer
Flashed a string of crazy code, it filled their hearts with fear
One by one they watched their precious programs disappear.
The truth shall piss them off.

Generals at NASA knew that they had been outranked
They didn't know who did it but they knew the launch had tanked
All in a kerfuffle, they were well and truly wanked.
The truth shall piss them off.

There was no joy in Florida, the FBI was vexed
They swore to one another that the system had been hexed
The hacker chortled gleefully, "The Pentagon is next!"
The truth shall piss them off.

His mother said, "I think you should go out and get some sun."
He said," I'd rather stay here, Ma, I'm having too much fun."
Then they saw the coppers with a warrant and a gun.
The truth shall piss them off.

He had to put a suit on and he had to go to court
He tied his hair behind his ears, but wouldn't cut it short
And right before his trial he hacked the constables' report.
The truth shall piss them off.

His lawyer said "My client is as pure as driven snow
It's only youthful hi-jinks, sure it's something he'll outgrow.
He hasn't damaged anything," and so they let him go.
The truth shall piss them off.

In a warren full of wombats he was born across the sea
With a fierce and fiery intellect that boggles you and me
Singing courage is contagious, information must be free
The truth shall piss them off.

 

THE LAST HIPPIE
Words © 2008 Holly Tannen
Tune: Arthur MacBride and the Sergeant, traditional Irish

Written in the aftermath of the 2008 forest fires in northern California, as the roots of the Montgomery Woods old-growth continued to smolder.

A man from a magazine called up to say
I am coming to talk with your grandma today
I'm bringing my camera, I'm bringing my tape
And she's in a wheelchair so she can't escape.

He sat down beside her, his hand on her knee
Saying you can confide all your secrets to me
I'll carefully write down each word that you say
And you will be famous eight weeks from today.

Back in the sixties you lived in the Haight
Danced in the park, and sang at the Freight
Now Jerry Garcia and Owsley are dead
And you're the last hippie, this journalist said.

Oh no, says my Grandmother, 'cause I have seen
All the crap you call writing in your magazine
I'd tell you my story, it's long and complex
And you'd only write about acid and sex.
 
The last of the old-growth is burnt down to ash
The northern Pacific is filled up with trash
The dolphins are dog food, whales lie on the beach
And I blame those bastards we couldn't impeach.      

The seabirds are dying, all covered with oil
Pesticide residues poison the soil
The polar bear's gone and the songbirds have fled
And I'm the last hippie, my Grandmother said.

So all you reporters come listen and learn
That your magazine sales are not my main concern
I'm not going to tell you who I took to bed
And fuck getting famous, my Grandmother said.

But all you bold folkies, bring something to eat
Home-made chocolate-chip cookies or some other treat
I'll sing you an old song if you'll pass it on
Let that be my legacy after I'm gone.

We'll sit on the porch and we'll laugh and we'll joke
And be kind to each other before we all croak
John Lennon and Timothy Leary are dead
And I'm the last hippie, my grandmother said.

 

BROWNIES FOR BREAKFAST
Words and music ©2002  Holly Tannen

I'm reading your annual letter
It's full of your annual cheer
You tell me what's happening back in New York
You wonder what's happening here.

Your daughter's a pre-med at Swarthmore
Your son's made the basketball team
Your husband will clear half a million this year
Your house is an architect's dream.

. . . .. . . .. . . .But in Mendocino it's different
. . . .. . . .. . . .I run with a musical bunch
. . . .. . . .. . . .We like to have brownies for breakfast
. . . .. . . .. . . .We like to have mushrooms for lunch.

I spent the sixties in Berkeley
I'm sorry that you were not there
We took LSD while you watched TV
And laughed at our clothes and our hair.

We studied our psychical innards
While you gained political clout
You learned to deal, we learned to feel
Turning on, tuning in, dropping out.

I'm teaching my parrot to yodel
I'm learning to play the guitar
I walk by the sea, I don't own a TV
I'm driving a ten-year-old car.

I've strolled through your house in the suburbs
Admiring all of your stuff
And I may need a shrink, but I can't help but think
That there is such a thing as enough.

I really loved reading your letter
I hope you've enjoyed all my news
I'd wish you a wonderful Christmas
Except that we're both of us Jews.

. . . .. . . .. . . .Yes, in Mendocino I'm happy
. . . .. . . .. . . .I run with a musical bunch
. . . .. . . .. . . .We like to have brownies for breakfast
. . . .. . . .. . . .We like to have mushrooms for lunch.


 

BONOBO WANNABEE
Words and music © 2004  Holly Tannen

. . . .Unlike the aggressive and male-dominated chimpanzees, bonobos stay with their mothers their whole life long. They have sex in many different partner combinations, and use sex to avoid conflict and to reconcile when they do squabble.
. . . .Chimp females forage on their own with their young. Bonobos don't share their range with gorillas, so there's enough food that the females can band together to forage. When an alpha male gets aggressive, the females gang up on him.

O, I wanna be a bonobo                   
A bonobo life for me                                    
I wanna be a bonobo
I'm a bonobo wannabee.
               
We hang around around the trees
And sit on one another's knees
And search for nits and ticks and fleas
It's a bonobo life for me.

O, I wanna be a bonobo
A  bonobo life for me
A bonafide bonobo
I'm a bonobo wannabee.

We nest up in the trees at night
And fondle everything in sight
We hardly ever have to fight
It's a bonobo life for me.

You can harangue an orangutan
You can moon a baboon
As we cuddle and kiss in bonobial bliss
On our bonobo honeymoon.

O  come over here Mama Bonobo
And sit on your Daddy's knee
Oh do you wanna bonobo
Bonobo a bit with me?

And if we do bonobo
I will not charge a fee
I'll do it pro bonobo
I'm a bonobo wannabee.

You can beribbon a gibbon
 And give him away for free
But I wanna be a bonobo
 It's a bonobo life for me.

You can thrill a gorilla
Make free with a chimpanzee
But I wanna be a bonobo
It's a bonobo life for me.

O I wanna be a bonobo
I'm a bonobo wannabee.



PAINTED TOENAILS
Words ©2003 Holly Tannen. Tune: "Saucy Sailor", English traditional

A story told me by a friend. I rhymed it out and set it to an old tune. Two years later I met the woman whose story it was, and sang it for her.

It was last Monday morning
As I lay in  bed
Four o'clock I heard the phone
I raised up my head.

I knew it was my mother
Before I picked up the phone
All she said was "Daddy's dead,
It's time to come home."

A man was there by my mother's door
His car was long and black
He drove us to the graveyard
And  waited to take us back.

We stood apart together
Among the mourners there
Black and white in the morning light
And the cold frosty air.

The mothers, the fathers,
The students and the friends
The children and the babes in arms
The chain that never ends.

But there was one who stood alone
And silent in her tears
In a woolen coat and a woolen scarf
Gold rings in her ears.

And when I raised my veil to hear
The words the chaplain said
I saw her sandals in the rain
And  her toenails painted red.

Then they lowered down my father
Threw earth upon his head
And turned again to the world of  life
From the world of the dead.

Till  none remained by the body
From which the soul had fled
But the two of us and the woman
With her toenails painted red.

My  mother took her by the hand
And said "You look so sad."
She asked the woman how it was
That she had known my  Dad.

Her earrings shone in the morning  light
As she raised up her veil
Her hair was grey, her eyes were blue,
Her cheeks earthy pale.

She looked into my  mother's eyes
And quietly she said...
"He painted my toenails red."


 

DOWNSTREAM FROM DYLAN
Words and melody ©2008 Holly Tannen

"Songwriting is like fishing in a stream; you put in your line and hope you catch something. And I don't think anyone downstream from Bob Dylan ever caught anything."  - Arlo Guthrie

Oh, I tried to write a song for you
Brilliant, funny and kind and true
But nothing seemed to be coming through
Downstream from Dylan again

. . . Downstream from Dylan again again
. . . Fling away my pad and my trusty pen
. . . For each song I catch, he catches ten
. . . Downstream from Dylan again
            
Oh I sat by the stream the whole day long
But now at last I know what's wrong
That sleazy slimeball stole my song
Downstream from Dylan again

. . . Downstream from Dylan again again
. . . Fling away my pad and my useless pen
. . . He lets one float by every now and then
. . . Downstream from Dylan again                                    

Why must he always steal my stuff?
You'd think that he'd have songs enough.
So I yelled at him and he yelled back "Tough!"
Downstream from Dylan again

So here I sit alone and blue
While he's on Youtube the whole day through
As he sings my song in Kalamazoo                     
Downstream from Dylan again

But I won't let him destroy my dream
Or wound my hard-earned self-esteem
Gonna move five hundred yards upstream
And snag them suckers again

. . . Downstream from Dylan no more no more
. . . I can see the light on the far-off shore
. . . By Friday night I'll have songs galore
. . . Downstream from Dylan no more!

 

(You Could Write) A SONG ABOUT THAT
words and music © 2010  Holly Tannen

Went to the river with my sheepdog Jack
You could write a song about that
Threw a stick in the water and he brought it back
You could write a song about that

. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could knock it out in no time flat
. . . You could write a song about that

Got a new stop sign north of town
You could write a song about that
Traffic's gonna hafta slow way down
You could write a song about that

. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could write a song about that
. . . Owls are nesting in my sheepskin hat
. . . You could write a song about that

They found Che Guevara's body today
You could write a song about that
They say he was murdered by the CIA
You could write a song about that

. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could write a song about that
. . . A mountain lion ate my girlfriend's cat
. . . You could write a song about that

. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could write a song about that
. . . I lost my pajamas at the Laundromat
. . . You could write a song about that

. . . You could write a song about that
. . . You could write a song about that
. . . Each night I turn into a vampire bat.
. . . You could write a song about that

 


 

NOTHING AT ALL
Words © 2010 Holly Tannen
Tune: Thousands Or More, from the singing of the Copper Family,
Sussex, England

When I was a baby I'd lie in my crib
I would play with my toes and I'd drool on my bib
In those golden days before I learned to crawl
I would lie on my back doing nothing at all
 
Now I am older and well past my prime
And I'm tired of running around all the time
I will not do yoga or play volleyball
I will sit in the shade and do nothing at all

. . .Nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all
. . .I will sit in the shade and do nothing at all

My friends teach at Berkeley and Stanford and Yale
They're all striving for tenure and scared that they'll fail
Publish or perish, they stoutly contend
They will publish, and perish, the same in the end

Since man started farming, historians say
We have all got to work and keep busy all day
But every Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal
Liked to lay down her flint and do nothing at all

. . .Nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all
. . .Liked to lay down her flint and do nothing at all

Here's a brochure for a weekend retreat
Down at the Zendo, it's sure to be neat
Eighty-five monks in the big dharma hall
Sitting on their zafus doing nothing at all

When I am old I will sit in the sun
And I'll watch the young moms on their mid-morning run
Huffing and puffing they jog to the mall
As they envy me here doing nothing at all
       
. . .Nothing at all, nothing at all, nothing at all
. . .As they envy me here doing nothing at all

MORE TO COME

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© Holly Tannen 2012
P.O. Box 1136 - Mendocino, California 95460 - Contact Holly Tannen


 

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