November 3, 2008


Well, Hawaii was a bridge too far. And Alaska was a bridge to...well, you know. And New Mexico, through no fault of its own, is wedged between Arizona and Texas, and a visit there would have required a little more time than this election season allowed. (Yeah, that's the problem. This election season wasn't long enough.) So, once I've played a few songs in Las Vegas on Monday, the total will stand at 47 states.

So many cities I've never been to before have opened up to me thanks to Melanie's hard work at home, and the hard work of energetic, well-organized, hopeful, Progressive people in each of those places. I haven't just sung these funny songs about ignorance, war and greed. I've met these people, and seen the good work they're doing, shining their Blue light in America's Reddest places. -- Roy


My tour landed me in Ohio last week, fortuitously coinciding with the "Sing Out the Vote Ohio!" tour spearheaded by Holly Near. Holly assembled a brilliant bunch of political singers and songwriters - people she'd known throughout her years on the Music-for-Change frontlines - to storm the state and inspire voter turnout, particularly of the Democratic sort, of course.

I joined the tour for three of its nine shows. It was a pleasure and an inspiration to be in the company of these artists and true believers: emma's rvolution (Pat Humphries and Sandy O), John McCutcheon, Laura Love, Vanessa and Tamara Torres, Andre dos Santos Morgan, Kiya Heartwood, my beloved borthers in satire the Prince Myshkins (Andy Gricevich and Rick Burkhardt), Deborah van Kleef and Sue Jeffers, who shared the stage with me again for my show in Cleveland Heights, and Holly herself, who is the soul of generosity and grace.

These shows were great opportunities for those with inspiring things to sing, to sing them for those who came to be inspired. It was just like Church, except I was the only one in a suit. At our performance in Columbus, I did "I Approve this Message." and at the end of the song, where I repeat "I am...and I approve this message," the cast got out of their chairs and harmonized on the "I am"s. I usually sing it twice, but I let it loop twelve or thirteen times till the audience joined in and the whole room was singing "I am!" That song is forever changed for me, and that moment will be a memory I can turn to if I ever doubt that I'm a part of a great tradition. Thanks to Holly, and the whole SOTVO cast.

Here are a few videos Jim Miller shot at the show in Kent, OH:

"Yes We Can!"
"Drivin' Five to the Polls"
"I'll Vote for Change"


I heard the news from Rush Limbaugh. His was the only radio coverage I could find, driving across the width of Nebraska that Friday, when John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his his running mate. "It's a Grand Slam!" Rush gushed. "God, Guns and Babies!" ("First of all, that's a triple," I muttered.) Right away, Melanie was on the cell phone from home, and over the next 400 miles, we co-wrote "Sarah Pale In Comparison."

It's one of four songs written on the road and videotaped for YouTube, often ON the road. Now I've done audio recordings of "Sarah...," "The Impeachment Song," "How Can We Lose?" and "Ninety Percent" and they're available for download from the website: http// . Mementos of the election we'll never forget. Not priceless, but cheap: all four of them for five bucks.


Often, when I visit a museum of natural history, I'm overwhelmed by the density of information presented in each room, in each diorama, on every plaque. Not so much at the Creation Museum. There, I was overwhelmed by the density expected of ME.

The Creation Museum is the creation (in more than seven days, I suspect) of a group called Answers in Genesis which espouses not only the literal interpretation of the Good Book, but a "Biblically-based world view." AiG spent 27 million dollars on this massive facility in Petersburg, KY. On opening day, a group of protesters staged a "Rally for Reason" at the CM presided over by Edwin Kagin, two-time Atheist of the Year, and my host for a recent house concert in northern Kentucky. (And my my song "Creation Science 101" was played in constant rotation in the van on the way to the rally by my buddy John Welte.)

"Prepare to Believe" read the slogan at the ticket counter. Yes, I paid to get in, so you wouldn't have to.

Just inside the "Canyon Entrance" there's a video featuring two paleontologists gently brushing dirt from an embedded fossil. "My fiend Kym and I are both pale-ee-on-tol-o-gists," explains the one who's white. "We look at the same fossil evidence, but we come away with entirely different conclusions. This is because we begin at Different Starting Points."

Kym, you see, relies on Human Reason and concludes that the remains are millions of years old. But our friend proceeds from the unquestioning acceptance of God's Word as revealed in the Bible, and knows that this specimen must have died and been buried in sediment in the Great Flood 4,300 years ago, give or take a Tuesday.

Human Reason and God's Word. Different Starting Points, see? The first two large exhibit rooms are devoted to this gleeful embrace of ignorance, A/B-ing Human Reason (wrong) and God's Word (right) as they pertain to the natural world.

It was Saturday morning, and the place was crowded with families and bussloads of Baptists. I heard a grandpa explaining to his son and grandson, "Evolutionists just assume that they're right, so everything they see fits their theory." "Right," said the son, for his son's benefit.

In chamber after chamber, the Young Earth Creationist saga unfolds life-size. Eve is Cher with well-placed hair. (Until the shame of the Fall forces her to cover herself in animal skins - then she's, well, Cher.) Adam is a bearded Fabio. The denizens of Eden cavort with dinosours - one Triceratops even wears a saddle.

Methuselah is a scary audio-animatron who makes you guess his age. (969.) Noah looks something like Gene Hackman. Moses looks nothing like Charleton Heston.

There are several rooms and passages devoted to the horrors of an un-Biblical world - projected images of heroin addicts, blister-covered babies, Nazis, graffiti - which make some little kids cower until their moms assure them that it's going to be okay, because God loves them.

I kept walking, walking, walking. It's huge. And all around me the people were lapping it up like cream. "This is amazing," said one. "It's unbelievable!" said another.

Going in, I was naive enough to think there'd be some case made for Creationism, or some attempt to rebut Evolution. There's no such thing. It's just a big, big presentation of a small idea. It's like a lot of the Christian Music I've heard all across the country - schmaltzy, bombastic productions of boneheaded three-chord songs. This museum is not at all aimed at doubters, empiricists, sinners and Liberals like me. It's mind candy for the Faithful.

And yet, I look around at these people, and I'm not inclined to mock them. I like these people. They're funny, some of them. They're trying to do something good. And they are smart - yes, they are.

And I think about the tiny, simple world they've wedged between two leather covers, and I stop laughing altogether. Because these are the people Karl Rove jerks around. These are the people who vote against their own economic interests, against their own workplace safety, against the real security of the country they love, just so gay people can't get married. These are people who accept things on faith - things like, "Barack Obama is a Muslim," and "Sarah Palin is a reformer" and that there's a "Pro-Abortion Movement" in America.

I suspect that my funny songs wouldn't change their way of thinking, but that doesn't make them my enemies. My enemies are the powerful people who exploit the simple desire to have simple answers.

I left the Creation Museum happy for that clarity, and proud to be doing these songs, attempting at least to ward off an America whose slogan reads, "Prepare to Believe," or worse, "Abandon intellect, all ye who enter here."

If you're going to have a road on which comedians may be driving, and on that road you build "Beaverlick Baptist Church," aren't you just asking for accidents?


My friend, and stalwart labor folkie George Mann has put together the fourth and final installment in his "Hail to the Thief!" series of compilation CD's. This one's called "Farewell to the Thief!" and features the absolute best of Bush-bashing by some renowned folk artists, not to mention me. Tom Paxton's got a song on here. Anne Feeney's got two. Jon Fromer, emma's revolution, Jim Page and many others, including George himself and his adorable 92-year-old singing partner Julius Margolin.

The project is dedicated to Utah Phillips, the folksinger, storyteller, organizer and anarchist ("Good, though.") who passed away in May. Here's all the info, including how to buy it online or by mail order:


Here are a few upcoming shows:

Friday, November 7- 8 pm
Thanks for the Support - The Full Show
The Sanctuary Concerts at the Chatham Friends Meeting House
158 Southern Boulevard
$15 at the door only; no advance sales

Saturday, November 8 - 8 pm
Thanks for the Support - The Full Show
First Parish of Watertown
35 Chuch St
with BillyBob Neck!
$15 suggested donation

Sunday, November 9 - 3 pm
Thanks for the Support - The Full Show
Performing Arts Center - Kingsborough Community College (CUNY)
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Free - doors open at 2 pm

Tuesday, November 11 - 8:30 pm
Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street
"Morrison Hotel" comedy show featuring John Morrison
$5 cover
Roy headlines at 10 pm

Wednesday, November 12 - 7:30 pm
Thanks for the Support - The Full Show
Country Corral
106 Route 13
$15 at the door