Compassion at the Grass Roots: “Such a Crime”

A Concept: Second Saturdays – Soul Soup Singalongs

A few years ago, the folks at The Elfenworks Foundations asked “what if…?”   What if people were to join together in a grass roots gathering, monthly, singing songs, fostering an ethic of sharing and understanding, and open hearted compassion towards the last and least. In the tradition of call and response, the band Commodore Callahan   created the following kickoff song, Such a Crime, as a call:

The song was inspired by an op-ed piece in the New York Times, about a minister who had taken a bullet in Vietnam, and ended up in a wheelchair, homeless, and who was then arrested in a homeless shelter on an outstanding warrant for vagrancy (homelessness).    It talks about the increasing hard hearted criminalization as a response to the rising tide of poverty and inequality, and asks: is it a crime to be poor? Such a crime… and it’s time, time to pray for the day that it isn’t anymore!

The song is still on YouTube with ‘reply by video’ enabled… and the sheet music is still posted on the website  You can catch a quick glimpse at the chords and lyrics here… even a ukulele version! See our post on awareness raising songs for a songlist to get you started, if that concept somehow tickles your fancy.

Such a Crime – Commodore Callahan

REF       Is it a crime Is it a crime  Is it a crime to be poor?  Such a crime, and it’s time,  time to pray for the day that it isn’t anymore

VERSE To rich and the poor, our law is blind, to native sons, she’s still unkind.

On the street you’d better not find a doorway to rest your head.

Our reverend would never swear, didn’t even have long hair.

He was busted in his wheelchair,  in the shelter where he’d finally found a bed


VERSE  Rev  didn’t dodge, he went to ‘Nam, paid so dear for our freedom

Now and then some folks would come, try to help him along

Don’t  you want the kids to see us caring, lightening the load our brother’s bearing?

No, let’s crack down on the sha–a–ring    Sharing  food, that’s just so rude!”

BRIDGE There’s a hard rain comin’ for the hard of heart, and “can’t” aint never done nothing. Come on in, and do your part and refuse to do just nothing.

VERSE  Just step over that minister,  yeah walk on past that minister

He looks mighty sinister, though he could be you or me.

Could his story maybe wake us, grip us, even shake us?

Think where our life could take us. We’re just too afraid to see!


 —Inspired by a true story by Barbara Ehrenreich

Copyright © 2009 Elfenworks Productions, LLC

All Rights Reserved.

Categories Justice Work, Music, Stormy Issues | Tags: , , | Posted on December 17, 2009

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