Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm



Melody and Lyrics: Lonnie Ray Atkinson
Vocals: Lonnie Ray Atkinson
Sample: 1972 Presidential Campaign of Shirley Chisholm
Instrumental Track: ccMixter artist Alex

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, this song is in no way an endorsement of republicans or the right wing of American politics (if anything, it ridicules the idea being put forth by republicans that this administration is “socialist” or “left” or whatever scary words they can conjure up to demonize the politics of social justice). It is, instead, a condemnation of a two party electoral/media system that continues to put us in the position of choosing between (and placing our hopes on) corporate democrats and corporate republicans.

In the third verse of Biz Markie’s 1988 track Nobody Beats the Biz, there’s a really profound line stating, “Reagan is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm.” I took that to mean that Shirley Chisholm was the kind of candidate we wish could win, but Reagan was who we got stuck with.

Since then, Method Man and LL Cool J have used the same line referring to Clinton and Bush respectively. In that tradition, I wanted to write a song that would not only use this line, but would expand on its meaning. I wanted to write a song that was not just about the disappointment so many have had with the current administration, but more about how we got here and what we can do to bring about real change. Moving from the shameful dynamics of election/advertising campaigns to busting out of our “two party prison,” I end with an emphasis on activism and “direct action founded on vision.”

This song is merely a mild critique. And it will take much more than a mild critique of a president to bring about anything more than fragile, snail-like reforms. With that said, I hope this song will inspire people to work not only toward improving the quality of our candidates, but more so toward changing the very institutions that regulate our participation in society.

(the end sample is a mixture of three small clips from the historic 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm)

If you are interested (or you think you know someone that might be interested) in adding your own music (or better vocals) to the mix, you can go to http://ccmixter.org/files/projectquestion/31820. When you’re done, you can email the mp3 to info (at) lonnierayatkinson (dot) com.

All contributions will be considered Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0.

Your time and talent is greatly appreciated.

Lyrics:
Intro narration:
My hope is that these words will strike fear in the hearts of corporate democrats who sell our votes to the highest bidder and shame in the hearts of republicans who have the audacity to even suggest that this administration in any way represents progressives or the American left.

first verse
no more excuses, no more illusions
no more benefit of the doubt confusions
this song – is for those who can’t deny it anymore
the president ain’t the one you thought you voted for
expecting a new kind of leader, so surprised to see
when he was clinton part two and bush part three
you found yourself in the choir singing give him some time
while he’s steady excusing criminals, continuing crimes
though i could write a hundred verses with this scandalous list
this ain’t about the disappointments or the ways we’ve been dissed
what’s more important is examining why you should have known
media strategists playing y’all like y’all ain’t grown
did you really base your vote on a record of change
or did you bet your hopes and dreams on an ad campaign
the same ad campaigns they use to sell us beer
if you want real change insert your fantasy here
but if you want more than fantasy, it takes more than wishing
it takes long term strategies to change the whole system
that’s why we want candidates who could make that decision
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

chorus:
Biz Markie said it best, said it first
but saying it this time hurts the worst
we tired of choosing from a filtered few we’ve been given
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

second verse:
you couldn’t ask – for any more proof than Obama
that today, asses and elephants got the same mama
mama wall street, daddy warbucks, behold
aunt aggie, uncle pharma, cousin oil and cousin coal
the whole corporate family chuckling and boasting
narration: it doesn’t matter which party wins if we’re the ones hosting
yo, that’s why we gotta fight for local and state gains,
instant run-off voting and public funded campaigns
free and equal time on public owned airwaves
tell the democrats we ain’t the lesser of two slaves
do i gotta spell out / let me hear ya yell out
primary the sell-outs, until they get the hell out
in red states when you can’t get through the primary door
run third party till the phonies don’t run no more
we gonna find a way to bust out this two party prison
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

chorus:
Biz Markie said it best, said it first
but saying it this time hurts the worst
we tired of choosing from a filtered few we’ve been given
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

third verse:
- well what’s done is done, Barack Obama ain’t the one,
and there never was a one, and there never was a one
there ain’t never gonna be election day solution
i said you vote as reform, you fight for revolution
and that fight starts with studying where and how you going
not just seed throwing, but knowing the crops you growing
the fields you sowing, so they can’t say no more
we know what you against but what are you for
organize around the better world you peeping
where we been can bring ‘em in, where we going can keep ‘em
move from anger to strategy, grievance to guidance
looking at our range of options through a wide lens
creative activism, hit the streets make the traffic stop
but don’t throw the baby out with the ballot box
i said voting still matters, because policy matters
because right now matters, because right now matters
just keep your head and don’t buy into these campaign cults
it’s what you do between elections that gets results
what we need is direct action founded on vision
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

chorus:
Biz Markie said it best, said it first
but saying it this time hurts the worst
we tired of choosing from a filtered few we’ve been given
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

chorus:
Biz Markie said it best, said it first
but saying it this time hurts the worst
I ain’t afraid to blaspheme electoral religion
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

chorus:
Biz Markie said it best, said it first
but saying it this time hurts the worst
raise your voice, your voice is the one they’ve been missing
Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm

(clip of Shirley Chisholm)

 

“Barack Obama is the prez, but I voted for Shirley Chisholm (with ccMixter artist Alex)” by Lonnie Ray Atkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons License