Songs for the Redwoods

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Selected for Women's Radio
"Best of the Decade (2000's)"

Featuring Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz.

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John Ball Remembering and honoring the wisdom of John Ball, a 14th C. priest executed for his efforts on behalf of English working people. Ball, a priest from Kent, England, and a "social agitator," preached to rouse and encourage rebel peasants in the 1381 Peasants' Rebellion. (See Sydney Carter is best known for writing the lyrics to Lord of the Dance. He wrote John Ball in 1981 to commemorate the six hundredth anniversary of the Peasant's Revolt ( also called "Wat Tyler's Rebellion"). John Ball found in Wycliffe's translation of the Bible into English new hope for an egalitarian England. Some modern scholars claim that the few fragments of John Ball's verse that survive are, in fact, the first flowering of political poetry and protest song in English. He is, in a sense, the direct literary ancestor of such modern figures as Woody Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg, Ewan MacColl, and Bob Dylan. Ball was executed for his efforts in behalf of English peasants, and he has since become something of a folk hero. Victorian poet and artist William Morris wrote a story called "The Dream of John Ball" that used Ball as a focal point for Morris's own intense socialism. Another version of Sydney Carter's song may be heard on the CD Lovely in the Dances (Plant Life PLR 032), sung by John Kirkpatrick and Carter himself, recorded in 1981 (See by Sydney Carter
She Shanty A shanty of the high shes, for the healing and empowerment of women. by Sharon Abreu
Tom Littletree "Honoring our indigenous people. This was inspired by a newspaper article about a man in Hawaii, a native Hawaiian, who was arrested and referred to in a newspaper as 'homeless.' He objected, saying that all of Hawaii was his home. That sounded about right to me. I translated the story into territory that I know a little better." mh by Michael Hurwicz
Cuckoo Round A round from Renaissance England, celebrating the Cuckoo bird, a sign of Spring. This is one of those songs that's easy to start singing, hard to stop. author unknown
Mary & Julia Honoring forest defenders trying to save the Redwoods. This song is about California Redwood Forest activists Redwood Mary and Julia Butterfly Hill. When Julia Butterfly Hill was living for two years in Luna, one of the ancient Redwoods she was trying to save, Redwood Mary was Julia’s feet. Mary would travel around the U.S. and beyond, giving presentations and setting up speaker phone interviews with Julia, who had a cell phone up in the tree with her. (Please read Julia’s book, “The Legacy of Luna”).
Less than 3% of the old growth Redwood Forest remains, due to unsustainable logging as the result of corporate greed and lack of political will to save this natural and national treasure, made so famous in Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land”. The unsustainable logging has also resulted in mudslides that have damaged houses. It has poisoned the soil and ground water, and further threatened already endangered species of fish, like the Coho Salmon. There are about three main logging companies responsible for this clearcutting. Among them is Mendocino Redwood Company, owned by the Fisher family, who also own The Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic clothing stores. They want to cut down all the Redwoods and poison the soil with herbicides so they can then plant vineyards and make even more millions of dollars selling wine. You can help by boycotting their stores and writing them to let them know you are boycotting them. There are many disturbing aspects to this story. One is that the State of California sold off this precious State forest – public land - to the corporations. Another is that the Fisher family claimed they would log the land sustainably. They lied. They have clearcut the trees – clearcutting means taking everything. That is as far from sustainable as you can get.
by Sharon Abreu
Change in the Climate Global warming (aka global climate change). A hot rap by Sharon Abreu
Estuary Celebrating the life in estuaries, where fresh and salt water and sea life come together in a community of great diversity. by Sharon Abreu

1. John Ball (S. Carter)

Who’ll be the lady,
Who will be the lord,
When we are ruled by the love of another?
Who’ll be the lady,
Who will be the lord,
In the light that is coming in the morning?

Sing, John Ball, and tell it to them all -
Long live the day that is dawning!
For I'll crow like a cock,
I'll carol like a lark,
For the light that is coming in the morning.

Eve is the lady, Adam is the lord,*
When we are ruled by the love of another,
Eve is the lady, Adam is the lord,
In the light that is coming in the morning.


Labor and spin, in fellowship I say,
Labor and spin for the love of one another,
Labor and spin, in fellowship I say,
In the light that is coming in the morning.


* These are the original lyrics. We sing "Eve was the lady, Adam was the lord"

2. She Shanty (S. Abreu)

I have sailed upon this journey
For nigh on many years.
And the salt sea has flowed
Through these weary eyes.
But as I set my sail at sunrise
On still another day.
I set my sights on clear, uncharted skies.

I sing my She Shanty to the wind and the sun,
Loud and strong, may its tune sail on high!
Watch its words catch the wave,
Note and bottle do I save!
I will sing my She Shanty,
Sing it AR! Sing it AY!
Sing it AR! Sing it AY! Sing it AY!

Verse 2
My will is my captain, my heart the tiller steers.
My eyes on the horizon, my crew it knows no fears.
Hoist me from the bowsprit!
My keel, steady she will be.
I set a course for tomorrow,
But today is the day to be here.


Verse 3
Let the wind carry this music,
Let the harmony be its guide,
To China, to Pakistan,
Afghanistan, where women still must hide.
And though storms may toss me over,
My life boat’s here inside.
I’m free right now to be a rover,
And freedom for all women’s on the tide.


3.Tom Littletree (M. Hurwicz)

From the Chesapeake to the great Salt Lake, to the shore by Neah Bay,
From the Smokies to the Rockies and up the great Cascade,
I wander and I wonder, and I'd really like to know,
Why these people call me homeless, and they're camping in my home.

It was just your great, great grandfather who first came to this shore,
Where my people had been living 10,000 years before,
And everything we tried to share, you just had to steal,
And now you call me homeless, but that's not the way I feel.

My ceiling's bright with stars at night, my rec room's full of trees,
Horizon to horizon, well, that's my TV screen,
But every time I sit back to relax and catch the news,
Some joker drives a bulldozer right through my living room.

My walls are hung with rainbows, my window is the sky,
I've got a lot of roommates who walk and swim and fly,
And if we growl or if we grunt, or even sing like this,
You can't put us out, because we're all the Landlord's kids.

So call me for dinner, or just call when you can,
Call me if you find work, or if you need a hand,
Or just call me Tom Littletree, since that is how I'm known,
But please don't call me homeless, while you're camping in my home.

4. Cuckoo Round (unknown)

Cuckoo, as I me walk-ed,
On a May morning,
I heard a bird sing.

5. Mary & Julia (S. Abreu)


Mary and Julia,
Way up high in a Redwood tree,
Dreaming far and wide
of what they knew had to be.

Mary and Julia,
Climbing high to see,
The trees through the fading forest
In the darkness of an ancient mystery.

"I think I'll stay a week," says Julia,
"Maybe I'll stay all year.
It's amazing how the view does change
When you look from way up here."

Mary and Julia,
Way up high in a Redwood tree,
Two hundred feet above the Earth.
To see how far they can see.

A thousand years can fall so fast,
And millenniums topple hard.
Could be a winter or a world away,
Could be in my back yard today.
And I can see your tree
Through a forest of lies
The wolf, he wears a thin disguise.

Mary and Julia,
Way up high in a Redwood tree,
Dreaming far and wide
of what they knew had to be.

Mary and Julia,
Climbing high to see,
The trees through the fading forest
In the darkness of an ancient mystery.

Laughter must and will prevail,
Louder than any logger's tale.
Ears that cannot bear the sound
Of great life as it hits the ground.

The young cannot replace the old,
Rings more valuable than gold.
The new rush of the West
Brings a loud, destructive guest.

Mary and Julia,
With their voices so clear and strong,
Call to you and me,
"Come up and see -- don't wait too long."

This song is about California Redwood Forest activists
Redwood Mary and Julia Butterfly Hill. Julia lived in a
Redwood tree for over two years to prevent a section of
the forest from being clearcut. Mary traveled around the
U.S. doing presentations about the Redwoods and setting
up audience speakerphone conversations with Julia.

6. Change in the Climate (S. Abreu)

There's a change in the climate,
There's a change in the air,
Changes are happening everywhere.
Are we ready to notice?
Do we dare to be aware?
How can we change the atmosphere
and show that we care?
By now we've heard the call,
But do we heed the warning?
Do we look at Peter Pan and Santa Clause
The same way we look at Global Warming?

Do we heed the tests of science,
Or buy the words of industry?
Can we look at what we do individually?
How can we make a difference,
each one do our part
To cool the rising tides of warming,
each one make a start?

Sometimes I feel like I'm standing by myself,
Though I know we're all in this together.
But let's not talk about global warming, No, No -
Let's just talk about the weather.

Now there is no magic potion,
But I know that there's a plan -
We can save our skies and oceans,
our forests and our land.
But to reach the ears of Congress,
We're gonna have to shout.
The animals and trees can't,
So we've got to work this out. CH

The Kyoto Treaty is reliable,
it's economically viable,
But the Senators won't ratify,
and the world is standing by.
Waiting for U.S. action,
feeling the Earth's dissatisfaction.
You're supposed to represent us,
not choke us and cement us!
So, c'mon, Senate, RATIFY,
so more people don't have to die!
The coral reefs are steeped in grief,
The ozone's feeling incomplete,
The glaciers are disappearing and who is the thief?
Big guns saying "You all worry so much!
You worry warts - you worry just cause
you're wearing shorts in New York in December!"
Well, I'll tell you what you can do with your CO2,
Your fluorocarbon jargon and your coal-burning soul!
Your carbon monoxide is not your best side,
so open wide and take what Mother Nature
just won't take in stride!

It's a long-term friendship threatening to end -
I will not let this happen, I will fight to defend
This Earth - You are so important to me.
I will keep you safe and healthy,
and you'll do the same for me.


7. Estuary (S. Abreu)

Estuary, I think you’re a very nice place to live!
Estuary, I’m gonna stay right here.
Here, where the ocean meets the lake,
Everyone’s here, make no mistake.
In our
Estuary, I think you’re a very nice place to live!
Estuary, I’m gonna stay right here.

Our neighborhood is as it should be.
Fresh water joins the salty sea
in my
Estuary, I think you’re a very nice place to live!
Estuary, I’m gonna stay right here.

I go with the flow, I slide on the tide,
I know everything’s gonna be all right in my Estuary…

You carry your treasures faithfully,
The trout and the salmon, swimming free!
In our Estuary…

On land, you know, they fuss and fret.
We let it all go - we know they’re all wet,
When all around them life is swimming,
Life is swimming! In our Estuary…


copyright © 2011-2021 by Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz