Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oscar Brown Jr: But I Was Cool

For the past two weeks, I've been having a blast teaching songwriting, fiction, and poetry workshops to kids aged 5-11. Today, I'll be using Oscar Brown Jr.'s song Dat Dere to talk to kids about perspective and point-of-view. It should be a fun way to let them see how the writer's voice can change even mid-poem.

Oscar Brown Jr. was such a creative force of nature. He had that expressive voice and goofy sense of humor, mixed with a deadly serious belief that music and words should be used to enact social change. You can listen to a great interview with him on American Routes from 2002 (I love his musings on "soul" and "cool"...doesn't he remind you of the Rock Man?)

Since I can't find a full, free version of Dat Dere, here's a clip:

And here's another great Oscar Brown Jr. tune that makes me smile every time I hear it:

I always live by the golden rule
Whatever happens, don't blow your cool!
You gotta have nerves of steel
And never show folks how you honestly feel

I lived all my life this way, ha
For example, take yesterday:

I breeze home happy bringin' her my pay
Her note read long savvy, I have run away!
An' I threw myself down across our empty bed
An' this is what I said:

Ooo shhhhiiiii ooow ooow ooow
But I was cool!

So I "one for the roaded" at a all night bar
I wound up so loaded, I tore up my car
The judge threw the book at me,
An' when I read, the sentence there, I said:

Oow! Please oooow ooow
But I was cool!

So I said she's the only one, that I have to pay
And I found her an' pulled my gun, an' fired point blank
The shot whistled right past that woman's head
An' I killed my hound dog, dead!

Oooooow, ruff ruff, rrr, rrr, rrr, rur, rur, rur
As they carried me away
I was overheard to say,
"Be cool, be cool, stay cool, be cool!"

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