Recession Stomp: Lyrics & Inspiration

My video for new song Recession Stomp is a playful song about hard times getting better.  The song is in the early American jazzy blues form- the “stomp”- popular in the 20’s and 30’s.  I chose this type of feel to match the lyrics, and to parallel our economic tough times now with those of the same era.  A stomp was literally when people kept the beat by stomping on the floor!  But I wanted this song to also convey the hope I feel- that things will get better- so the chorus is a dance hall panacea;  a girl trying to cope, puts on her dancing shoes to get through it all.

Musically, Recession Stomp was one of those rare songs where lyrics and music came together during writing. It happened after listening to a week of Louis Armstrong, and on the same night I went to see San Francisco band Lucky 7 play at club Amnesia.  That night was a 1920’s Prohibition party that I was playing a short stint in for an accordion babes act- (accordion toting girls in the SF bay area… ).  It was a cool night- with everyone in costume.  But the headliner’s music! I was blown away by Lucky 7’s sound;  no one was doing 1920’s music like this.  It was bluesy, jazzy, all instrumental- the dance floor was packed with folks doing dances like the Charleston.  The band had a full horn section (trumpet, sax, trombone…). They also had a banjo player- which they explained was the rhythm keeper back then, long before drums were included onstage in this genre.  Banjo and the trombone together, were probably the instruments that gave that era’s music its old skool sound and feel.

I came home that night on fire to write something similar, but since I don’t have a banjo- I wrote the song on my ukulele (another super popular instrument during that 1920’s). The lyrics were inspired by Louis Armstrong Hot 5-s & 7’s records.  Nearly all those ’30’s songs are upbeat, humorous, tongue in cheek- even about heady subjects like loosing your job, or getting your heart broken.  Economically, you know times were rough back then- especially for Louie and the musicians at this time in his life.  Yet his music was so uplifting! I hear only celebration and that contagious joy of dueling horns all the way through.

I wrote each verse/stanza in Recession Stomp about 1 person I know- who is or has been affected by this economy, borrowing the tongue in-cheek style of the early jazz lyricists.


Recession Stomp

My boss he told me, I don’t need you anymore,
You been a good one, but I gotta close the store.
Too few are buyin’, no one needs us, that’s for sure,
We got it bad. You gotta go, we got it bad.

My Mama wrote me, she wrote me a letter,
Said “things’ll get worse child, before they get better.
But save your nickels and your pennies too,
‘Cause things gonna change, they’re gonna change,
they’re gonna change.”

Everyone’s talkin’ about it. Turns my blues skies into grey.
But I’m gonna tie up my dancing shoes, dance those blues away!

My banker told me, he said to my face, “If your check’s late again
I’ll need the keys to your place. Don’t give me tears doll, just green in the hand.
I got it bad, when you got it bad- I got it bad.”

My friend he left just yesterday. The only job he found was 3000 miles away.
Left his family but when he waved goodbye, said
“I’m coming back, things gonna change, I’m coming back.”

‘Cause everyone’s talkin’ about it. Turns my blues skies into grey.
But I’m gonna tie up my dancing shoes, dance those blues away!

My man he told me, the saddest news. “You’re spendin’ too much time
in those dancin’ shoes! You’re far too happy, you should be singing the blues!
We got it bad, you gotta go, you gotta go.

Drowned my sorrows at the Lucky café. Bartender says “Girl, wipe those tears away.”
Don’t let the others, rain on your parade. You got it right- we gotta dance!
You got it right, we gotta dance. You got it right, things gonna change,
come on let’s dance!!

c. 2012 Tara Linda.

The video looks the way it does all because of director Juan Alvarado.  I like how he made it a bit grainy and sepia toned 😉  I was thrilled to be able to work with him; he has shot video for lots of great music giants (Santana, Los Lobos etc.), and is the sweetest, easiest person to work with.   When we filmed this last Summer, I was also recording the album and was just a little obsessed with that. So I was extremely happy that he had listened to the words and drawn up a story board (yay!).

I guess we shot more footage of the hard times than the dancing times! 😉 but I like that juxtaposition too. Juan wanted to drive home the recession theme consistent with the song.  Shockingly, we didn’t have to drive far. It is heartbreaking to see how hard the recession has hit some American towns: McAllan, Texas is one. I had no idea it had changed so much; entire blocks downtown with factory building skeletons and for rent signs…

One thing I feel strongly about- we are all going through hard times together, so we can’t isolate waiting for things to improve.  Call it our collective Karma- it affects us all and I believe we need to stick together and keep finding things to celebrate about, even if they are only small things. We have life;  we have our humanity, each other, our art, and music 😉  We have to get out more (not less), b/c things will change, things will get better.  My Lanikai ukulele mates tell me that the during the great depression years, more people bought and played ukuleles than any time previous, and more than any other instrument on the market.

I am thrilled that Yoshi’s Oakland Jazz club has invited us back; my CD release is on May 23.  You can get advance copies of Torch and Sass here.

Author: tara linda

musician, poet, art and jewelry-maker

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