Wisconsin Mardi Gras (scheduled for June 5th this year)

On June 5, 2012, Wisconsin will be voting in an historic recall of our current governor, Scott Walker (among others). As a union kind of guy and as a parent of a Milwauke Public Schools student, I present this song which, rather elliptically, makes the case for giving Walker his walking papers and electing Milwaukee mayor (and Washington Heights neighbor) Tom Barrett in his place. Info on the song after the video.

MUSICALLY: What you’re seeing in this recording is the first song I’ve written on piano and, really, my first public performance on the ivory/ebony 88’s. That’s why I look so terrified for so much of the song. Late last year, we inherited a free piano from someone looking to unload it. So by February of this year I decided I was going to learn to actually play something on it. With it being Mardi Gras season and all, I decided that that something was going to be the New Orleans style associated with Professor Longhair — a habanera rhythm on the left hand; 8-to-thebar, “crush” grace notes, and falling arpeggios on the right hand.

The music for this song is basically the result of that: a swiping of “Tipitina,” “Big Chief,” and “Hey, Little Girl” (with some of Louis Jordan’s “Early in the Morning” and Ray Charles’s “Mess Around” around the edges).

VISUALLY: I set up the camera to try to make it look like the way Fats Domino was filmed in the 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee television variety special from 1969. I definitely succeeded in the Fats part, belly-wise. You also see me sporting my new Mahlon Mitchell button — free from the Tom Barrett rally with Bill Clinton I’d gone to earlier in the day at Pere Marquette park in downtown Milwaukee.

LYRICALLY: It goes like this (some of which I flub in the version I filmed — like I said, I was terrified and just holding on for dear life):

Don’t let the good times roll
Good times roll too slow
And it might take a push or a shove
To make the bad times go

So let the talkers talk
And let the walkers walk
And if they need a push or a shove, shove with love
And let the bad times roll

There’s a way to tell the story
So that it turns out right
Don’t let the good times flow
They flow too slow
Baby, let the bad times roll.

So tell your Ma and your Pa
Wisconsin Mardi Gras
Is scheduled for June 5th this year
Tout le monde, chantez-les bas

And let the talkers talk
Let’s let the walkers walk
And if they need a push or a shove, shove with love
And let the bad times roll

All y’all can sing it with me:
“Laissez les mal temps roulez
And if you still can recall, the thrill of it all
Baby, let the bad times roll.

…and it’s true. Like Frederick Douglass said: good times don’t just roll — sometimes they need a push or a shove. So let’s get out there and shove (with love).

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