1. Blood in the Wake opens with a bit of interesting electronic tomfoolery to mask a shitty editing decision on my part and thereafter is just me and my acoustic angrily singing about religious profiteers, conscienceless gun vendors, exploitative insurance companies, dishonest investment bankers, reckless drivers, and politicians that cut funding for public health services, while explaining psychopaths are born without a conscience but sociopaths simply learn to suppress their natural empathy feelings of empathy for others.
2. Atheists in Mecca is dedicated to all of the countless atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and secular humanists in the so-called Muslim world and in oppressive theocratic Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and other religiously dictatorial communities. It was recorded in a hotel room in Tunis. Despite the harshness of my vocal I felt that this take captured the right mood so I kept it.
3. Between the Droughts and the Floods is about climate change denial and climate change worsened severe weather events. The first verse refers to Hurricane Harvey which caused massive flooding in Houston and other locations in large part due to extraordinarily warm deep sea water temperatures, which my lyrics actually underestimated. The warm water temperatures actually went as deep as 600 feet under the surface of the Gulf waters. I like the way the instrumental parts sound as if I am trying to rip my guitar apart.
4. Leaves of Kosutnjak is about the four years my wife and I spent apart because I could not find a job that paid enough to qualify for a visa to bring her to the USA to marry me. We met on Facebook in 2011, just after the Jasmine Revolution/Arab Spring and the successful ousting of Ben Ali. She liked something I wrote about secularism in the so-called Muslim world and universal human rights. At the time I was attending classes at San Diego Mesa College in International Relations, Middle East History, and American History and she was studying linguistics at Manouba University. To make a long story short, I had to leave San Diego, become an over the road trucker for 6 months, then move to my rural hometown and become a concrete mixer driver in order to make enough money to please USCIS. We had two visits a year apart, in Tunis and one in Belgrade Serbia before we could finally be together. The part about the Mufti is a reference to the fact that we couldn’t get married in Tunisia because my then fiancee was considered a “Muslim” even though she is actually an atheist and was forbidden from marrying a man who was not “Muslim”, although “Muslim” men were free to marry women of any religion. We were married in the USA and a few years later feminists and secularists in the Tunisian parliament passed a new law to allow Tunisian women to marry men of any or no religion freely and recently deceased Tunisian President Essebsi signed it into law. We are now married in both the USA and Tunisia and neither of us had to fake a religious conversion to do it! The sounds in the middle of the song are from a video I made from my first trip to Tunisia in 2012 with the sound of the call to prayer from the mosque nearby filtered through a flock of squawking birds.
5. R2P (Human Refugees) is perhaps even more personal and yet very political. The title refers to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine much debated since the failure of the international community to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda. The first verse refers to my abusive conservative Christian upbringing and the lifelong financial, emotional and career setbacks it has led to. The second verse refers to my the horrific car crash that took my wife’s ability to feel or use her body below the waist, nearly killed her sister, and stole my wife’s Green Card and therefore our right to reside in the USA. Finally I tell the story of sitting on my wife’s hospital bed and watching news of another boat of migrants setting sail from the coast of Libya only to tragically sink in the Mediterranean and the Central American migrants fleeing from MS-13 to seek asylum in the USA only to have their children taken away by the goons of the Trump Administration.
6. Blood in the Wake (Reprise) is more about psychopaths and sociopaths, but this time it refers to Putin’s propaganda and disinformation efforts, Trump’s anti-press Twitter rants, the NRA’s enabling of white supremacists and anti-government fanatics to arm themselves, pedophile priests, and Islamic terror groups.
7. Islamists in Bornu begins with a big “Fuck you” aimed at that jihadists terrorizing parts of two of Africa’s most musical countries: Nigeria and Mali. I was simply outraged that jihadists were kidnapping girls in Nigeria and cutting the hands off guitarists in Mali. This is perhaps the most blasphemous and sacrilegious song on the whole album.
8. By The Smartphone Light is a short, darkly comical bit of Trump bashing.
9. And Photograph Stars is about the cynical vapidness of the commercial pop music industry.
10. Magical Markets and Magical Mules was recorded back in 2017 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The first verse is about the Wall Street douche-bags that caused the 2007 recession. The second verse is about the destructiveness of under-informed conspiracy theories becoming more popular than accurate legitimate journalism. The third verse compares the illogical and immoral philosophies of ISIS and al Qaeda with the Tea Party and the alt-right; the philosophies of Christian Dominionists and prosperity theologists with Ayn Rand worshiping uber-capitalists. In the end I conclude that irrational beliefs from “the magic of the market” to “benevolent dictatorships” to theocratic tyranny are all used to keep people stupid so rulers can exploit them.
11. Mutually Assured Destruction is a spoken word piece in which I attempted to tell the whole story of nuclear weapons from the Manhattan Project to the Iran nuclear deal.