Song #22: Earth’s Song

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Painting by Godelieve Richard

This is another track from my collection with Piti Theatre, “Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I”.  This song is from Piti Theatre’s touring production “Innocenzo“.  Jonathan wrote most of the words and as usual, I added and subtracted a few things, plus tweaked the lyrics to fit my melody/rhythm scheme (more on our co-writing process in an upcoming post).

In the play, a clown named Innocenzo develops microwave sickness, also known as electrical sensitivity.  He has a dream in which Earth gives him a message about how to find balance and healing.

Otto Schumann was a German physicist who discovered the “Schumann Resonance” in 1952, i.e., the electromagnetic frequency generated by the Earth. Someone who is suffering from microwave sickness whom Jon and Godelieve and I have never met created a video for this song:

 

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Earth’s Song (For Otto Schumann)
By Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Album: Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northrfire Recording Studio

My name is mother earth
I’m 4.54 Billion years old
I’ve had something to say
Every second of every minute of every day
Of every week of every month of every year
For each of those 4.54 billion years

7.83 hertz
From the land and the sea
7.83 hertz
A gift to you from me

7.83 is the frequency
Otto Schuman discovered
Back in 1954 Germany
My sweet vibration was uncovered

7.83 is a way to describe
The invisible wave that I provide
Which makes you feel at home
Wherever on me that you might roam

7.83 hertz
From the land and the sea
7.83 hertz
A gift to you from me

But somethings been happening kinda strange
Everyone used to enjoy my wave range
But with all the new waves you’re making
My message is stirred, broken, and shaken

7.83 hertz
From the land and the sea
7.83 hertz
A gift to you from me

You love my trees, love my leaves
You love my sky, you don’t know why
You love my showers, you love my flowers
You love my hawks, love my walks

But what you love most of all
You can’t see at all
Deep inside your brain
Your wave is the same as mine
Your wave was born from mine
When were together you feel fine

But what you love most of all
You can’t see at all
Deep inside your brain

Your wave is the same as mine
Your wave was born from mine
When were together you feel fine
Your wave is the same as mine
You wave was born from mine
When were together you feel fine
Your wave is the same as mine

Song #19: The Joyful Bee

Again, in honor of Spring and the recently passed EU ban on bee-killing pesticides,  this week’s song is “Joyful Bee”, from Piti Theatre’s touring play with music “To Bee or Not to Bee”, which deals with Colony Collapse Disorder in beehives.  (For more information on the EU ban check out this  New York Times article )

“Joyful Bee” is the first song I ever wrote for Piti Theatre, and one of two songs I’ve written with Piti (out of about 40 and counting!) that was not a lyric/music collaboration with Jonathan Mirin.  Way back in the Fall of 2010, I had just agreed to work with Jon and Godelieve on “To Bee or Not to Bee”  They hadn’t given me an official assignment yet,  but I was so excited about the project that I drove around singing and this tune just came out.  (For backstory on my collaboration with Piti Theatre, please see post #8)

The musical play “To Bee or Not to Bee” was written by Jonathan Mirin in 2012 and traces the fallout  of a farmer’s decision to transform his sustainable small farm into a pesticide/herbicide-dependent mono-culture corn operation.  This tragic story reflects on a micro scale the downward spiral of depleted soil, increased disease, loss of bio-diversity and pollinator peril currently being experienced world-wide due to pesticide/herbicide/fertilizer-addicted, mono-cropping Big Agro. Biz.

Fortunately, art is not only a powerful tool for examining the grim reality of the present, but also for imagining a more positive future, and Jon has crafted the arc of the play to end on a note of hope.  The song “Joyful Bee” comes at the very end of the show when a local wise woman beekeeper has sent Farmer James a nuc (package) of bees to start over with, along with some wisdom about how to transform his farm back into a bee-friendly place.

For more information about the show, plus upcoming performances, please visit ptco.org/tobee

“Joyful Bee” is also the first track on our recent compilation, “Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I”  which you can find online at Bandcamp.

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Art by Godelieve Richard
The Joyful Bee
Album: Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I
Performed by Carrie Ferguson; Mandolin, Bass, Percussion: Garrett Sawyer
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio

I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee
I love the flowers and the flowers love me
I’m fuzzy and buzzy, its the best way to be
I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee

When I get to a flower, well I feel the power
I drink up the nectar and I get real full
I fly to the hive and I feel so alive
I drop off the nectar and I go get some more

I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee
I love the flowers and the flowers love me
I’m fuzzy and buzzy, its the best way to be
I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee

Out in the meadow where the grass is green
The blossoms blossom and the air is clean
Sweetest nectar that I ever seen
I’m gonna bring it home to my honey Queen

I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee
I love the flowers and the flowers love me
I’m fuzzy and buzzy, its the best way to be
I’m a bee, I’m a bee, I’m a honey bee

Song #16: The Blossom and the Bee

Great news!  The EU just passed a total ban on bee-killing pesticides in all 28 EU countries!  The new law “bans some of the world’s most common insecticides, pressing industry to develop a whole new model of non-toxic agriculture.”  For more information, check out this New York Times article.

This week’s song, in honor of Spring, and in honor of this historical decision, is ‘The Blossom and the Bee’, another one from my new CD with Piti Theatre, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’.   This song is from Piti’s musical, “Olde Coleraine” and was originally written to be a duet between Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth and his friend/business partner William W. Carey who owned apple orchards and kept bees in Colrain in the second half of the 1800’s.  Langstroth, who was also the minister at Second Congregational Church in Greenfield, is known as the “Father of American Beekeeping” because he invented the stackable frame beehive, a type of hive still used by more than 90% of beekeepers around the world. He went into business with Carey building these hives. More at  ptco.org/milltown

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The Bee and the Blossom
By Mirin and Ferguson
Album: Piti Theatre’s Greatest Hits, Vol. I
Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio
The bee and the blossom, the blossom and the bee,
Apples and honey go together you see.
The bee and the blossom, the blossom and the bee,
That’s why I have an orchard and an apiary.

Song #15: Magnetic North

magnetic north edit

Well, I finally missed a week!  I ended up taking a little break last week while I was out in Arcata, California visiting my folks and friends and the ocean.  Northern California is so beautiful!  And I love my little home town in April.  Everything was so green and blue and yellow.

marsh

In the spirit of Northerly things, this week’s song is ‘Magnetic North’ from Piti Theatre’s mini-musical “This is Your Rock”, a school residency inspired by the 50’s TV show “This is Your Life” and rocks, developed for third graders from R.K. Finn Ryan Road Elementary School, Florence MA with the support of the Xeric Foundation and the Ryan Road PTO. More about Piti Theatre residencies at ptco.org/residencies

Magnetic North
By Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Now you’ve got your computers and your GPS
But don’t forget what’s still the best
You don’t need electricity or radiation
Just a compass pointing to your destination

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

The compass points ‘cuz of the earth’s iron core
That’s a magnet too if you’re keepin’ score
But magnetic north is not the north pole
So don’t come to me if Santa left you coal!

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Let me lead you to places that you’ll want to go
What you’ll find, you never know
I might take you to Greenland or the Ukraine
But wherever you are your compass says the same

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Magnetic, magnetic North
Use me to find your way
Magnetic, magnetic North
If you’re lost, I’ll save the day

Song #13: North River Song

North River

Well, I am sick of winter and ready for summer, or at least Spring.  How about you?

This week’s song is an ode to all things river-related and is another one from Piti Theatre’s mini-musical, “Olde Coleraine” about the town of Colrain in Western Massachusetts.  The little black and white drawing next to the song above is a sketch Godelieve Richard did of me performing in the show.

Here’s a blurb from  Piti Theatre’s Bandcamp page:

“The North River runs through Colrain, MA and is a tributary of the Deerfield River, joining the Deerfield just above Shelburne Falls at a spot known now as “Sunburn Beach.” In the 1800’s the North River was home to a variety of mills and around these mills were small villages where mill workers lived. Children were part of the labor force but these small communities within Olde Coleraine also had their own one room schoolhouses. ‘North River’ is part of the musical “Olde Coleraine” that was originally developed for Suzanne Taylor’s 3rd grade class at Colrain Central School. This residency led to a full production for the public at Piti Theatre’s 7th Annual SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Art Festival in 2016 featuring local actors and young people. These efforts were made possible by the Mass Cultural Council STARS program and Mass Humanities.”

I can’t wait to go swimming!

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North River Song
Words by Jonathan Mirin, Music by Carrie Ferguson
Performed by Carrie Ferguson; Bass: Tommy Byrnes
Recorded by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go swimmin’
yeah
down in the North River
five nice spots to choose from
that’s just countin’ the close ones
still mighty cold when you’re not in the sun

It’s been a long winter
down in Adamsville
and it’s been a long winter
out in Lyonsville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s go fishin’
yeah
down in the North River
four nice spots to choose from
we can go when work is all done
when we’ve caught enough we let’em run

It’s been a long winter
up in Gimletville
and it’s been a long winter
down in Shattuckville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go picnicin’ yeah
down by the North River
three nice spots to choose from
pack bread and apple pie thick as your thumb
watch the birds come and eat our crumbs

It’s been a long winter
down at Elm Grove
and it’s been a long winter
huddled round the stove

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

So . . .
Let’s go crossin’
yeah
let’s cross the rivers
two rivers to choose from
the North and West Branch are the ones
build enough bridges to get things done

It’s been a long winter
at Taylor Brook
when the wind blew
those sawmills shook

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Let’s get on the trolley
yeah
down by the North River
we’ve only one track to choose from
keep the windows open and sit with your chum
listen to your heart beat like a drum

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(another day at the mill)
Down by the river
(we can drink our fill)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(we’ll swim every day)
Down by the river
(we’ll fish our way)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(Down from the ridge)
Down by the river
(across the covered bridge)
Down by the river

So let’s go let’s go let’s go . . .
Down by the river
(no need for a boat)
Down by the river
(let yourself float )
Down by the river

It’s been a long winter
up on Catamont Hill
and it’s been a long winter
down in Griswoldville

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

but now we’re planting seeds
and the air is still
down by the river
surrounded by hills

Song #12: The Electric Road

trolley sized

Song # 12:  Electric Road

Hey, did you know there used to be an electric trolley running between the towns of Colrain and Shelburne Falls in Western Massachusetts?

The Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway operated from late 1896 to late 1927 and carried freight and passengers through what was known as “Colrain City” down to Foundry Village, Griswoldville, Lyonsville, Adamsville, Shattuckville, Elm Groove and other hamlets before reaching Shelburne Falls.  At the South end of the 7 mile line, at the Buckland station across the Deerfield River from Shelburne Falls, you could connect with the Boston and Maine Railroad and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

“In 1927, faced with mounting debt, the SF&C ceased operation and was sold at foreclosure. The line was scrapped in 1928. The only surviving equipment of the SF&C is the 32’9” eight-wheel Combination Baggage-Passenger car #10, manufactured by the Wason company of Springfield, MA in 1896. The car has been fully restored to operating condition and today resides at the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum at the site of the old Buckland depot where it is used for recreational rides in the same freight yard where passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight were loaded and unloaded one hundred years ago.”  (Wikipedia)

I didn’t know about any of this until Piti Theatre was hired a few years ago to do a residency with the 3rd graders at Colrain Central School.  Working with a local Colrain historian, Piti Director Jonathan Mirin wrote a beautiful mini-musical about Colrain history featuring songs about the trolley, the local rivers, and children working in the mills.

For more information about Colrain’s “Electric Road” and the rural landscape/society it ran through, check out this interesting article in the Greenfield Recorder.

That must have been one gorgeous train ride!

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Electric Road by Jon Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music Services
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Music Studio

Hey hey look at them go
They’re gonna make an electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Trolley’s gonna carry all of our loads

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Get your family and friends
We’ve got people to see and letters to send
Get on the trolley go to town
Hear the trolley makin’ it’s sound

Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track
Ding ding, the conductor rings
Click clack, roll down the track

Put on the milk and the mail
Put on the apples and head down the trail
It’s a beautiful day
We don’t have to walk we can ride the whole way!

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey what do you know
Don’t need a car to go faster than slow

Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road
Hey hey when we grow old
Will we still ride the electric road

Change is all there is, Baby.

volcano

Song #10:  I’m A Rock Going Through Changes

 

Download:

(See below for lyrics)

This is another song from my new CD with Piti Theatre, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’. (For the whole story about my collaboration with Piti, and this project in particular, please see post #8).

Like last week’s song, ‘I’m A Rock Going Through Changes’ was written for a residency about rocks that Piti Theatre did at the Ryan Road School in Florence, MA.  Jon and Godelieve spent a week at the school teaching third graders about rocks and creating a play.  This song was performed by the students (accompanied by me disguised as “Carrie Keys” with an elaborate wig and sparkly gold boots) in the final show for the school and parents.

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I’m A Rock Going Through Changes

By Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Recording Studio, Amherst, MA
Co-produced by Carrie Ferguson and Garrett Sawyer
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia

Well…..I started off deep in the planet as magma (ma, ma, ma, ma, ma)
Then I got shot out of a volcano in Japan (an, an, an, an, an)
Didn’t know who or what or where I was (uz, uz, uz, uz, uz)
Then a geologist told me I was lava (va, va, va, va, va)
Until I cooled down, she said “Now you’re igneous!”

I Said “Excuse me? Oh well, in that case, it seems completely clear that….

I’m a rock that’s going through changes
I’m a rock that’s going through changes

Now, there’s two things can happen (pen, pen, pen, pen, pen)

“Do you guys have to keep doing that?”
“Sorry!” “We’re rocking out!”

Anyway……I could get pushed underground, heated up and pressurized
Until I turn metamorphic (ick, ick, ick, ick, ick,)
Or I might get weathered away broken down begrudged bedraggled into little Pieces of mud and dirt and bone called sediments (ents, ents, ents, ents, ents,)
Then those sediments might get packed down on the sea floor and turned into Sedimentary rock because

You’re going through changes
Don’t I know it’s true!
I’m a rock that’s going through changes

Now, if I start on the sea floor I will yes again
Become metamorphic (ick, ick, ick, ick, ick)
Then I might get thrust up and weathered down
Into sediment (ent, ent, ent, ent, ent)
Now, it this is sounding familiar, well…
It should because that’s what I mean by cycle! (cull, cull, cull, cull, cull)

Or if I’m pushed once more deep down beneath the sea floor
I’ll turn into magma (ma, ma, ma, ma, ma)
Then I might come up to the surface somewhere else or get shot out of a totally different volcano in a totally different place because millions of years have gone by (by, by, by, by, by)

Now guess what happens?
Who can tell me what happens?
Let me see your hands in the air..
Yes sir-ee, who can tell me what might happen once again when
That lava that was once magma cools down and becomes….
What does the lava become?
Igneous!
Igneous, that’s right and that should sound very familiar because…

You’re going through changes…
Change is all there is baby!
You’re a rock that’s going through changes!
Everybody now!
I’m going through changes
I’m a rock that’s going through changes!
Tell it like it is!
I’m going through changes
You know it’s true!
I’m a rock that’s going through changes!
Let me hear you!
I’m going through changes!
Last time!
I’m a rock that’s going through changes!
That’s what I’m talking about!

 

Rock Cycle

3 kinds of rock

Song #9 :  Three Kinds of Rock

 

Download

Three Kinds of Rock (Lyrics below)

Here’s another song from my new CD with Piti Theatre, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’. (For the whole story about this project, please see my preceding post).

‘Three Kinds of Rock’ was written for a Piti residency at the Ryan Road School in Florence, MA.  Jon and Godelieve spent a week at the school teaching third graders about rocks and creating a play.  This song was performed by the students (accompanied by me wearing a long curly black wig, gold boots and horn-rimmed glasses) in the final show for the school and parents.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Three Kinds of Rock
by Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson

Piano and vocals: Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Studio, Amherst, MA
Co-produced by Garrett Sawyer and Carrie Ferguson
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia at Northfire Studio

We are three kinds of rock
One two three
We are three kinds of rock
That make our planet be
Metamorphic and igneous and sedimentary
Three kinds of rock
One two three!

My name is sedimentary and I love to settle down
I’m the kind of rock where fossils can be found
Sediment is mud and sand and gravel and clay
It washes down the rivers and out into the bays
Millions of years go by and sediment gets compressed
Oceans dry up and real Mount Everest

We are three kinds of rock
One two three
We are three kinds of rock
That reveal Earth’s history
Metamorphic and igneous and sedimentary
Three kinds of rock

My name is igneous and igneous means fire
I’m the second kind of rock and I never grow tired
Deep in the Earth there’s magma, melting rocks that blow your mind
Spat out by volcanoes as lava all the time
Or it bubbles up to the crust and there it slowly cools
Then it turns into igneous
Those are the rocky rules!

We are three kinds of rock
One two three
We are three kinds of rock
Found on land and sea
Metamorphic and igneous and sedimentary
Three kinds of rock

My name is metamorphic, heat and pressure press on me
And change me from igneous or sedimentary
Sometimes I’m swirly and sometimes I’m smooth
It depends on how I was cooked and hot the other rocks
made their grooves

We are three kinds of rock
One two three
We are three kinds of rock
That reveal Earth’s history
Metamorphic and igneous and sedimentary
Three kinds of rock

We are three kinds of rock
One two three
We are three kinds of rock
That make our planet be
Metamorphic and igneous and sedimentary
Three kinds of rock
One two three!

Piti Theatre and Me!

Song #8: Electromagnet (That’s What I Am)

thumbnailPainting by Godelieve Richards

Download

Piti Theatre and Me!  (See below for lyrics to ‘Electromagnet’)

About 8 years ago, I played an opening set for a movie at Pot Hole Pictures, a classic film series in Shelburne Falls, MA.  Although it’s not a paid gig, playing at PHP is sort of a rite of passage for independent musicians in Western MA.  The weekly event takes place in a once-grand, historical building called Memorial Hall.  The police department is downstairs and upstairs is a huge, beautifully funky old ballroom/theater.  On the weekends they show popular old movies and they always have a local musician as the opener. That night it was just me and the piano.  The piano was an ancient upright set up on a wheeled dolly to make it more portable and there was one of those antique wooden piano stools with crystal claw feet.  The seat was stuck at the highest setting and if I sat on it I could reach the keys but  my feet barely touched the ground and the whole thing kept swinging to the left.  I don’t remember the movie.  Only about 20 people were in the audience.  I got paid with chewy popcorn.  It was a fun night with a sweet vibe.

I’m giving you all the details of this gig just to reiterate the often-pointed out point that life, (specifically MY life and my own music career), often unfolds through a series of random and inauspicious events.  Especially starting out as a musician, you never know what gig will lead you to the next thing.  If I hadn’t done that gig, I might not be doing the work I get to do today.

After the show I was approached by a couple who introduced themselves as Jonathan Mirin and Godelieve Richards.  They said they had a local theater company called Piti Theatre.   Godelieve liked my song about obsessive thinking, ‘Song For My Addiction’, and they wanted to do a choreographed dance to it. “Sure!” I said.

They ended up instead choreographing a dance to my song ‘Small White Rock’, but that was the beginning of us working together.  They asked me if I wanted to collaborate with them on a “play with music” they were doing.  The idea was that I would co-write songs with Jon, plus write other music for the show.  It would be an educational piece for children and adults, entertaining and humorous, but dealing with an intense subject: Colony Collapse Disorder in bee hives.  I’ve always wanted to write for musical theater and this was actually going to be a paid job so I felt pretty excited.  But, I was also skeptical.  It seemed like a depressing subject for a kid’s show.

CDC is indeed a depressing subject, but I quickly discovered that Piti Theatre has a way of making wonderfully entertaining, educational, poignant, smart, FUNNY art out of some of the trickiest subjects around.

I have to just say right here, that Jon and Godelieve are two of the most dedicated, hardest working artists I have ever met.  Together they form Piti Theatre and they each wear a bunch of different hats:  Jon writes, directs, teaches, and does all the booking, promotion, grant-writing and fund-raising; Godelieve co-designs the shows, designs and builds all the sets, props and costumes, plus does the choreography.   They are also dedicated activists: many of the shows they create have a strong environmental/social justice message.  They are using their art to change the world and I feel really honored to get to be a part of it.

‘To Bee Or Not to Bee’ was our first project together and since then we’ve collaborated on about 9 different shows, with various themes, which we have performed in public schools, libraries, festivals, and community centers throughout New England.

Two years ago, Piti and I received  a two-thousand dollar grant from Club Passim in Boston, via the Iguana Fund.  We used the money to help make a compilation of 16 of our favorite songs from some of the “mini-musicals” we’ve done.  This collection is a pot pouri of songs covering many different subjects/themes and includes songs from educational residencies at public schools as well as songs from our two touring plays, ‘To Bee or Not To Bee’, and ‘Innocenzo’.  It took us awhile, but we’re finally finished and will be releasing the record, ‘Piti Theatre’s Greatest Bits, Vol. I’, this Spring 2018.  I love all of these songs and am really excited to share them with people!

For the next 15 weeks or so I’ll be posting songs from this collection. This week’s song is called ‘Electromagnet (That’s What I Am)’ and was performed in a show with third graders as the culmination of a residency studying magnets at the Ryan Road School in Florence, MA.

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Electromagnet Song
by Jonathan Mirin and Carrie Ferguson

Performed by Carrie Ferguson
Bass and Guitar: Tommy Byrnes; Clapping: Ian Byrnes and Carrie Ferguson
Recorded and Mixed by Tommy Byrnes at Sovereignty Music, Bernardston, MA
Mastered by Angelo Quaglia, Northfire Studio, Amherst, MA

What’s the secret of my force?
Electric current, it’s a powerful force
I’m an Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

I got a wire coil inside of me
Flowing with electricity
Wrapped around a metal core
Of ferromagnetic soft iron ore

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Well, I get a lot of work in industry
In loudspeakers, generators, MRI machines
You can use me to make your motor go
All I need is that electric flow

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah!
Whoah!
Uh huh!
Hey!

When you flip the switch and the voltage flows
The stronger the current, the stronger I pull
But when you turn me off, I must confess
I’m just another weak magnet like all of the rest

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah!
Whoah!
Uh huh!
Hey!

Electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Yeah, electromagnet, that’s what I am
Electromagnet, let me say it again
Electromagnet, I can lift a car
Electromagnet, I’m a magnet star

Song #2: Glacier Baby

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Glacier Baby
By Jon Mirin and Carrie Ferguson

I may be cold and old and moving slow
I may be white and thick and got a ways to go
If you walk on me you might find fleas
Or Polar bears and seals or arctic seas

And when I left, I carved the mountains
And when I left, I carved the hills
And when I left, I carved the valleys
I left the rocks and clay, it lies there still
I left the rocks and clay, they call it til

I May be below zero celsius
I may be below 32 fahrenheit
I covered this whole valley, I covered Canada
My ice was everywhere sparkling white

And when I left, I carved the mountains
And when I left, I carved the hills
And when I left, I carved the valleys
I left the rocks and clay, it lies there still
I left the rocks and clay, they call it til

I’m a glacier baby, keep me around for you
I keep the world cool so just say thank you
Don’t count me out don’t let me get melted down
I keep the world cool, you need me around
I keep the world cool, you need me around
I keep the world cool, you need me around

Glacier Baby is a track off of the album Piti Theatre’s Greatest Hits, Vol. I, which will be coming out in CD form in March 2018.  This song is part of a “play with songs” written a few years ago by Piti Theatre director, Jon Mirin, and performed with third graders at the Ryan Road School in Northampton, MA.  The lyrics were written by Jon, with some additions and edits by me.  I wrote the music and recorded it with Garrett Sawyer at Northfire Studios in Amherst, MA.

I’ll say more about Piti Theatre and my ongoing collaboration with them, as well as our “greatest hits”  project, in a later post.  Right now I wanted to post this song because of what is going on, or maybe is about to go on in Alaska.

It doesn’t seem to be getting talked about a lot, but the big tax bill that just passed in the U.S. Congress, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, includes a sneaky little clause that allows for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Alaska.

At 19 million acres,  ANWR is the largest expanse of protected wilderness in the US and is home to polar bears, migrating birds, caribou and the McCall Glacier. The question of whether or not to drill for oil in this pristine wilderness has been a partisan controversy for decades.  Unfortunately, the Republicans have finally succeeded, at least on paper for the time being.  For more about ANWR and oil drilling, check out this wikipedia article.  For more about efforts to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, check out the organization Defenders.

Besides the inevitable damage to wildlife and habitat that comes with drilling, there’s the larger question of Fossil Fuel usage and its roll in contributing to global warming.  For more about this, check out this Global Warming FAQ sheet by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Earth is currently comprised of 10% ice in the form of glacial ice sheets and icebergs. Glaciers are shrinking world wide, which is both the result of climate change, and a contributing factor.   When this ice melts, not only do sea levels rise, but the chemical make up of the sea water is changed, both of which have negative affects on natural ecosystems and the humans and other creatures that depend on them. And, something else that maybe many of us don’t think about, all that ice is Earth’s natural air-conditioner.  It helps moderate the planet’s temperature.  As it melts, the temperature and weather is drastically altered. For more about this, check out this article from the Extreme Ice Survey website.

Honestly, thinking about global warming terrifies, depresses, and overwhelms me. I feel COMPLETELY POWERLESS. I feel enraged that so many bad decisions have been made, are being made; I feel grief-stricken, paralyzed by hopelessness, unable to do anything, not sure what it is that I would do anyway. And then I judge myself for being whiny, self-absorbed, and passive.  I HATE THESE FEELINGS.  I want these feelings to stop.

But, of course, here’s the thing:  there’s no way around it.  Global warming is happening; things ARE going to change, things are changing.  But who says there is a fixed outcome? What if there IS a more positive future? And what if these feelings are not only normal and unavoidable, but necessary wake up calls in order for us to get there?

I often say to myself   “Well, if there were something obvious I could do or not do, then I would do it.”  But you know what, it turns out there ARE things I can do.  I just don’t do them because I feel hopeless.  My little daily contribution, even participating in larger collective actions to fight the greedy powers that be, feels futile and pointless.  It is much easier to collapse into despair.

Hey, I know this is not a new revelation, but, what if EVERY DAY, EVERYBODY did their little individual thing, or participated in a big collective thing, to fight global warming?  THAT would be a movement, right?  That is really what it is going to take.

If we’re all paralyzed by these feelings of despair, that’s not going to happen.  There’s no way around these feelings.  We have to actually FEEL them and move through it and then we have to change our behavior.  And keep doing it.

Here’s a list of 35 things we can do every day to help fight global warming.

For resources, inspiration and support in transforming feelings about global warming and other environmental threats, I suggest checking out the brilliant work of Joanna Macey and her organization.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading!  What do you think about all this stuff?  What different things are you doing to save energy and stop global warming?