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Folk Is The New Black
Folk Is The New Black

2006

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The Basics: Produced by Janis Ian.

Personnel: Musicians: Jim Brock, Janis Ian, Viktor Krauss, Carson Whitsett. Vocalists: Vince Melamed, Jim Photoglo, Harry Stinson and a cast of friends who can't sing in tune.

Inside Scoop: First album since Restless Eyes with no co-writes, Folk Is The New Black is a return to Janis' folk roots. However, this is not a lighthearted nostalgia trip, but instead a true folk album: sparse but tasteful instrumentation underneath powerful lyrics of social and political social commentary, with enough variety to keep the listener beguiled. A must have.

Lyrics

Danger Danger

Janis Ian

You got Ma Rainey talkin' 'bout a jelly roll
Chuck Berry workin' on a mojo
Bessie Smith singin' Bull Dagger Blues
Elvis twiching on the evening news

Danger, danger, can't you see
that sex should stay a mystery
so ban that music, yessirree
That's what America means to me

We gonna ban Walt Whitman, and Jean Cocteau
All the queers will have to go
Mr. Tennessee Williams, Plato too
You got to give J. Edgar Hoover his due

Danger, danger, can't you see
They're in your local library
so ban those authors, yessirree
That's what America means to me, yeah

We gonna ban all the dagos, the wops and the kikes
Gonna ban all the chinks and the towelhead types
Ban all the wetbacks, ban all the fags
Wrap it up tight in the American flag

Danger, danger, can't you see
it's dangerous when they are free
so ban those lazy refugees
That's what America means to me

I watched the news last night at nine
Saw a head blown off somebody's spine
The women moaned and the children screamed
Doesn't anybody else think that's obscene?

It ought to be a felony
to practice such stupidity
but it's my right, as you can see
That's what America means to me, yeah

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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The Great Divide

Janis Ian

Come good people and gather 'round
Step out of the water before you drown
Tide is coming swift and deep
Gonna knock you off your feet
There's a tide of greed that knows no shame
and a tide of money that holds no stain
A tide of men who worship pride
and will not be denied

While politicians lie and cheat
to get to higher ground,
we follow them like sheep
and salute them as we drown
but no man will be king
when all men wear the crown,
and there will be a reckoning
from deep inside the rising tide
as we tear down the walls
of the Great Divide

Come good people and gather here
You who still hold freedom dear
Step across the waters
Bring your sons and daughters
Some will sink and some will swim
Some will walk on the water again
Some will rise and some will fall
Each one will hear the call

While churches counsel patience
and heavenly reward
they sub-divide our nations
by the shield and by the sword
and every congregation
has a pipeline to the lord
but there will be no salvation
and no place to hide for those who lied
and buried us alive to build the walls
of the Great Divide

And oh, when the poorest of the poor
come knocking at the door
they will not be denied
And oh, when those who took too much
are stripped of it and judged
then mercy will provide for the rising tide

So come good people and gather 'round
Come and stand on common ground
Raise your voices up and sing
Let's make the heavens ring
And you whose silence costs your soul
Learn to speak or dig your hole
Tomorrow's here and it won't wait
No time to hesitate

The tide's already risen
The deluge is at hand
Don't sit there by the ocean
while it sucks away the sand
'cause you'll be left with nothing
but the memory of land
while we sit high above the tide
and watch the walls begin to fall
as one by one our children wave goodbye
to the Great Divide

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Life Is Never Wrong

Janis Ian

Feast or famine, God or Mammon
Priest or shaman – opposites attract
Saints and sinners, losers, winners
Rank beginners – there's no going back
My old man was a dreamer
Dreamed his life away
Sometimes dreams are realler
than the roles we play
Daddy used to say --

You don't walk another man's path
You don't sing another man's song
You don't pay the whores of Babylon
The road is never straight
The way is always long,
but one thing I can say before I'm gone --
Life is never wrong

People used to laugh and say
"You never ought to make the truth your bride
"Marry money, fill your tummy
"Only junkies live to get that high"
My first love was Beauty
She tried so hard to please
Then she introduced me to the Beast
Knocked me to my knees

You don't walk another man's path
You don't sing another man's song
You don't pay the whores of Babylon
The road is never straight
The way is always long,
but one thing I can say before I'm gone --
Life is never wrong

Hold your head up high, no matter what the weight
Look life in the eye, don't hesitate
Life won't wait

You don't walk another man's path
You don't sing another man's song
You don't pay the whores of Babylon
The road is never straight
The way is always long,
but one thing I can say before I'm gone --
Life is never wrong

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Jackie Skates

Janis Ian

Jackie skates across the freeway
like a suicide in steel
Scatters ashes of her memory
to the wind behind the wheel
It's the road that makes the rhythm
It's the chalk marks on her soul
It's the task that he's been given
To keep her memory whole

She was younger than forever
She was older than goodbye
and she never saw the trucker
as he wove across the line
Just another L.A. drifter
with the freeway in her blood
And she never knew what hit her
when she ran right out of luck

It was Jackie called the parents
It was Jackie won the prize
It was Jackie fed the silence
When they could not meet his eyes
It was Jackie took the body
It was Jackie packed her stuff
and he never really loved her,
though he liked her well enough

Sometimes at night he sees her
from the corner of his eye
And he's just about to tell her
that he has no alibi
It's fate that makes the moment
That's what he wants to cry
But the words he needs are frozen
He can't even say goodbye

Jackie skates across the freeway
Like a suicide in steel
Scatters ashes of her memory
to the wind behind the wheel

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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All Those Promises

Janis Ian

I don't need to know her name
It's enough for me to know she is
I know she is not to blame
Did you tell her you were free
after all you said to me?

And all those promises
that you made and left behind
were filled with emptiness
You were never really mine
Every sweet caress
was just your second best
Broken promises

Baby, I'm amazed
at how long I still believed
How many lies it takes
before someone like me sees
All the tears you cry
never can deny
that you make love a lie
All the tears you cry
they never can deny
that you make love a lie

So when you see her, hold her tight
Don't forget to whisper in her ear
When she wakes alone at night
holding only memories
maybe she will think of me

And all those promises
that you made me from the start
were filled with emptiness
from the desert of your heart
Every sweet caress
was just your second best
Broken promises

Baby, I'm amazed
at how long I still believed
How many lies it takes
before someone like me sees
All the tears you cried
They never could deny
that you made love a lie
All those tears you cried
They never could deny
that you made love a lie

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Standing In The Shadows Of Love

Janis Ian

I've been standing in the shadows of love
Hiding from the sun up above
Wondering if my heart
would ever feel the spark
and say - I've finally had enough
I've been standing in the shadows of love

I built a wall of the stones I'd swallowed
Stones of fear and pride
I built it tall so no one could follow
and bother me inside
I lived my life in that wall's shade
I hid behind the games I played
but now it's time to make my getaway

I've been standing in the shadows of love
Hiding from the sun up above
Wondering if my heart
would ever feel the spark
and say - I've finally had enough
I've been standing in the shadows of love

I used to have such a mean reputation
I was cold and cruel
When I walked into a new situation
I knew just what to do
I thought this world was full of fools
except for me, who could play it cool
I played so cold, I almost froze
until I met you

I've been standing in the shadows of love
Hiding from the sun up above
Wondering if my heart
would ever feel the spark
and say - I've finally had enough
I've been standing in the shadows
Standing n theshadows
Standing in the shadows of love

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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The Drowning Man

Janis Ian

He said - Grab any stool
Put your belly to the bar
I'm not such a fool
I know who you are
It's been too many years
and not enough time
Have a cup of my tears
They've been watered with wine
I am the drowning man
I am the drowning man

There once was a girl
Every story starts that way
She lit up my world
like a fireworks display
And the flame drew me near
but it frightened me more
so I met her with water
and I rained ‘til I poured
Now I am the drowning man
I am the drowning man

I'm drowning in jiggers
and I'm drowning in smoke
I'm drowning in rivers
where the fish gasp and choke
I have drowned my tomorrows
just to drown out my past
Now I drown all my sorrows
at the bottom of this glass
‘cause I am the drowning man
I am the drowning man

I won't die for money
and I won't die for love
and I won't die for beauty
or the good Lord above
but i'll die for a dream
whose heart is engraved
in the rocks and the reefs
of my watery grave
I am the drowning man
I am the drowning man

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Crocodile Song

Janis Ian

There was a lady name of Annie May
She fell in love at the zoo one day
That crocodile with the big white smile
stole her very heart away
The courtship was brief but quite intense
once he got under the barbed wire fence
On the honeymoon night
she turned on the light
and said "darling meaning no offense..."

"Good God Almighty, those teeth are huge
"No way I'll do the hokey pokey with you"
So they went to the dentist, who pulled all but two
It's amazing what love can do
It's amazing what love can do

They had a son and named him Rocky, of course
He fell for a gal on the police force
She was impressed with his bullet proof vest
so they let the romance run its course
They rented a room at the Hotel Ritz
They sat on the edge of the bed and kissed
She took off her blues, he took off his shoes
It was then she almost called it quits

She said "Good God Almighty, those nails are huge
"No hanky panky, or it's jail for you"
So he pulled them all out
just as fast as he could chew
It's amazing what love can do
It's amazing what love can do

I swear every word of my tale is true
You better be careful, it could happen to you
Nobody knows where true love grows
'til they stand in someone else's shoes

Good God Almighty, it's a funny old world
Boys will be boys and girls'll be girls
The whole darn thing is just one big zoo
And it's amazing what love can do
It's amazing what love can do
It's amazing what love can do

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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The Last Train

Janis Ian

How long, how long has this train been gone?
Was there a man who asked for me?
I thought he'd wait to say so long
I'm later than I meant to be

The station master closed his eyes
Said - My dear, the trains are gone
Though forty years ago this night,
the last train left for Viet Nam

She said - My hair is lit with gray
No roses bloom upon my lips
but seems like only yesterday
he graced me with a lover's kiss

Then in the distance, thunder pealed
A whistle pierced the cricket's song
and you could see the sparks and the wheels
of the last train back from Viet Nam

It stopped just long enough to board
and as she ran, time set her free
A young man helped her through the door
and said - I knew you would wait for me

There's many a young boy who won't come back
Many a young girl who waits alone
Sometimes they meet on life's long track
They board that last train and go home

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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My Autobiography

Janis Ian

I know you and I'll agree
What this world needs is a lot more me
Well, I have got the remedy
Gonna write my autobiography
I've led a fascinating life
Had a husband and a wife
but you will truly be amazed
at just how humble I have stayed

Enough about me, let's talk about you
What do you think of me?
You must feel such gratitude
that you will get to read
my autobiography

My life doesn't have a very good plot
Guess I'll have to lie a lot
Should be easy to make things up
There's no one left to call my bluff
A lot of my old friends have passed on
The rest did drugs and their memory's gone
so I'll write my own history
in my autobiography

I'll say I slept with a Kennedy
Don't remember which one
They all looked the same to me,
or they did when we got done

Maybe they'll film it for TV
I wonder who they'll cast as me
Should be somebody I look like
Sigourney Weaver'd be all right
Gonna be hard to deal with fame
Once the whole world knows my name
but I'll stay humble and grateful to
all the little people like you

A thousand pages more of me
and all I've said and done
It will be my legacy,
and that's just volume one
of my autobiography

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Home Is The Heart

Janis Ian

There's a home for every heart
Like a diamond in the dark,
when you least expect a spark, it shines
Some may move in right away
Some may build it day by day
Some may find they're too afraid to try

Home is the heart made real
Home is the heart we feel,
made real

Sometimes there's a hiding place
You won't find a single trace
of the love that used to grace these walls
Sometimes there's an open door
where there wasn't one before,
and the less you speak, the more it calls

Home is the heart made real
Home is the heart we feel,
made real

Mansions may grow cold
and one room shacks stay warm
New love may grow old
and not remember being born
but I believe the heart recalls
what lips forget, and time makes small
It lives on in these four walls

Home is the heart made real
Home is the heart we feel,
made real

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Shadows On The Wind

Janis Ian

In my dreams of late, I seem another
Someone I have never been
All around me are the shapes
of shadows on the wind
Here's the ghost of what my mother wanted
and the shade of father's dreams
They are gone, and still I'm haunted
by restless go-betweens

Fatherless, motherless,
yesterday's child begins
life alone, missing home
Orphaned by time, I spin
like shadows on the wind

In my dreams of late, I am a vagrant
and I've never known a past
All the memories I have
are shadows on the glass
What I see of me is unfamiliar
like some pearl without a shell
and the stranger in the mirror
someone I once knew well

Fatherless, motherless,
yesterday's child begins
life alone, missing home
Orphaned by time, I spin
like shadows on the wind

When I dream of love, I dream my mother
anchored to the shifting sands
When I dream of strength
I dream my father's hands
In my dreams of late are signs and wonders
on the faces I have worn
I can hear the distant thunder
of shadows being born

Fatherless, motherless,
yesterday's child begins
life alone, missing home
Orphaned by time, I spin
like shadows on the wind

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Haven't I Got Eyes

Janis Ian

Lose our souls to money
And we lose our souls to love
Lose our souls to passion
And the silence from above
Haven't I got ears to hear
Haven't I got breath to breathe
Haven't I got eyes to see
What's happening to me

Sell our souls for money
And we sell our souls for love
Sell our souls for passion
And the silence from above
Haven't I got ears to hear
Haven't I got breath to breathe
Haven't I got eyes to see
what's happening to me

And everybody I know just wants more
You could fill death valley and not satisfy
Nothing is enough when that hunger hits your gut
Haven't I got eyes to see
Haven't I got eyes to see

Blinded by money
and we're blinded by love
Blinded by passion
and the silence from above
Haven't I got ears to hear
Haven't I got breath to breathe
Haven't I got eyes to see
What's happening to me

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Joy

Janis Ian

I wish you roses in the spring
Fledglings on the wing
Fireflies that sing your name
I wish you flowers in the grass
Memories that last
Shelter from the passing rain

I wish you joy
I wish you joy
I wish you joy

I hope the wind is at your back,
keeping you on track
That you never lack for love
I hope you walk beside your heart,
even in the dark
guided by the stars above

I wish you love
I wish you love
I wish you love

So wherever you may roam,
out there on your own,
home is just a heart away

I wish you joy
I wish you joy
I wish you joy

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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Folk Is The New Black

Janis Ian

Put your ear to the ground, there's a buzz
about a new type of song
They call it folk, and what it does
is make you want to sing along
We can try our hand at Kumbaya
Michael Row the Boat Ashore
You don't even have to burn your bra
to fit in with this décor

'cause folk is the new black
Cheaper than crack, and you don't have to cook
Download it and see
The first time is free, then you'll be hooked
You can be politically correct
You don't even have to risk your neck
Better than crack - folk is the new black

All the ladies on Fifth Avenue
are wearing dungarees
You can tell which ones are new
'cause they're starched and creased
We'll be starting our campaign real soon
“Folk is for Fun” say the ads
Pete Seeger's is the voice we'll use
even though he's just a fad

'cause folk is the new black
Cheaper than crack, and you don't have to cook
Download it and see
The first time is free, then you'll be hooked
All your friends will think you have real talent
when you've memorized all of Barbara Allen
Better than crack - folk is the new black

Folk is the new black
Cheaper than crack and you don't have to cook
Download it and see
First time is free, then you'll be hooked
We'll be singing hootenanny songs
long after rock and roll is gone
Better than crack - folk is the new black

© Rude Girl Pub. All rights reserved; international copyright secured.

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