The Future Needs Us Now

by Joe Solo

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Chorus: You got to rise up Stand tall and proud And if you care Then care out loud It's not enough to have a heart And quietly believe It's not enough til you take that heart And wear it on your sleeve Chorus There's people who think us strange Who'll never understand That it's just people who'll make that change We got the power in our hands Chorus
I met Woody Guthrie on an old and dusty road He said: "You're blowing my way, let me lighten up your load. It's a long, long road to freedom and a lonely one I know There's many miles behind us, and many more to go Chorus: We could be the start of something better We could be the start of something new We could be the start of something better You and me Me and you I said: "I must be dreaming, cos you're long dead and gone." He laughed and said: "I breathe again, when e're you sing that song And they can't really kill you, if you will not compromise. I lived my life a-hopin', and hope it never dies." Chorus So keep on walking brother, go out and sing your song You're carrying the flame now, and someday you'll pass it on. Wherever you may wander, wherever you may roam. If you're on the road to freedom, you'll never be alone. Chorus
The Gun said: "Now Pencil, I'm stronger than you. I can smash you to pieces, and what could you do? Stop all that writing, it's over, I've won. They'll cower to gaze on this thing that I've done." The Pencil it paused and then carried right on. It said: "Do your worst because after I'm gone These words that I've written will take to the skies As free from your bullets as truth is from lies." The Gun shot the Pencil to pieces then saw Those words on the paper that fell to the floor At once through a crack in the window it heard The crowds in the streets sing those very same words. It cried: "That's impossible! How can it be? I killed you, I beat you, I won, don't you see?" But the Gun didn't get it, how after we're gone The words and the love and the hope they live on.
Why are you so angry? Someone asked the other day. I said: "I'm angry about long hours; I'm angry about low pay; I'm angry that my boss Can hand a family man his cards Then say I'll get the same If I don't now work twice as hard; I'm angry about closed hospitals Fire Stations, schools; I'm angry that our papers Feed the bigotry of fools; I'm angry that elections Yield a government that gloats It has a working mandate With a quarter of the votes; Or that we don't take in refugees Then try to justify The reasons why We turn our backs while hungry children die; I'm angry for the homeless, The helpless and the lost; I'm angry that compassion Comes in second now to cost; I'm angry at statistics How they've come to run this land, How the tail it wags the dog now, While that dog it bites your hand; And I'm angry at this island Where we once shot fascists down And now queue in droves To cast our votes To let em run this town; And I'm angry that your colour, Your culture, creed and class Can define you And resign you To being written off en masse So don't you dare say I'm ungrateful I should be happy with my lot You wonder why I'm angry? I wonder why you're not!"
Blue Town 02:24
This is a new town A Blue Town A loyal and true town Don't want you to live here though Cos we got more than you town Splash cash cos they love it when you laud it Only good neighbour Is the one who can afford it here Chorus: In this Blue Town In this true blue town This town This town We got the far right spite there Underneath the arches Green light given for the Fascist marches Better not be black, Jack They'll say you're selling crack, Jack Last to get a job here And the first to get the sack, Jack They're not racist, but... They just never put Their brains in gear Or keep their mouths shut here We got the slack-jawed masses On the bones of their asses Skint but they still think That they belong the middle classes But they're phonies phonies Everything they own is All bought on a credit card To keep up with the Jones's Yeah, that's right I see you got the gist They've not got ragged trousers But they're all philanthropists here You've got to covet thy neighbour's Job and car Shop em to the boss and boy You'll go far With the phonies, phonies Who made it cos of cronies Finger-wagging Back-stabbing Cast the first stonies SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND KNOW YOUR PLACE They wouldn't know honour If it kicked em in the face In this town
You can feel it in the air There's something there There's a change a-coming It's time now to stand and fight It's just not right And you're tired of running Chorus: Hear the Chimes of Freedom ringing? I thought they'd forgotten how Some say our time will come I say our time is now For too long now they've had their way Now what they say Is ringing hollow For too long now they've made the rules And schooled the fools For fools to follow Chorus: Hear the Chimes of Freedom ringing? I thought they'd forgotten how Some say our time will come I say our time is now
She don't need fortune She don't need fame So don't try to mark them cards cos She won't play your game There'll be no compromising For your diamonds and pearls She's my sister And she's changing the world Don't try to bribe her Cos she can't be bought And don't try to set no trap cos She'll never get caught Her heartbeat's infectious She'll put your head in a whirl She's my sister And she's changing the world Some say the sky is the limit Yeah, well she'd ask you 'Why?' Some say: "Never say never." She says: "Never say die!" Her heartbeat's infectious She's just that kind of a girl She's my sister And she's changing the world
Halo 05:22
I met an old man, he said: "Son I don't know you But love is a three card trick Watch and I'll show you How you turn your head When she walks in the room Cos you can't see the stars For the halo around the moon. Don't try to hide it And don't look surprised And no son, don't you lie to me It's there in your eyes You're a ship on her rocks In a storm and you're doomed Cos you can't see the stars For the halo around the moon If the ocean is crying You don't dry her tears If a mermaid is singing You cover your ears Or they'll take you and they'll drown you In their salty perfume When you can't see the stars For the halo around the moon." I looked at that old man And I saw that he spoke Through the fog of the whisky All mirrors and smoke Like some poet who whined About a flower in bloom With some tired old line About a halo and a moon I said: "I know love and her traps And you thought That a free man like me Would fall in and get caught? Well you must be the dumbest Old man in the world!" And I left him right there To go talk to a girl.....
The future needs us now The future needs us now Rise up for tomorrow The future needs us now Don't dwell upon no sorrow For time will not allow Rise up for tomorrow The future needs us now This one's for the future For the battles yet to come The arguments to counter The races yet to run And it goes out to the faithful Who don't sit around and row This one's for the future The future needs us now The future needs us now The future needs us now Rise up for tomorrow The future needs us now Don't dwell upon no sorrow For time will not allow Rise up for tomorrow The future needs us now This one's for the writers Who kindle our desire And it goes out to the fighters Who pour petrol on that fire And we save some for the dreamers Who never stop to wonder how This one's for the future The future needs us now
I was in two minds about including some of the poems on the next album, but the reaction they get live has convinced me to put three or four can always skip em. I particularly like this one as it is basically my journey through music and what I got from me a chance to say 'thank you' to a lot of amazing artists who saved my life in one way or another. It is a personal journey, but I hope it's a universal one too. I think anyone who loves music has paved their path with heroes and all you need to do is change the names. WHEN I WAS 14 I was 14 years old when my journey began It was needle on record...that crackle...then BANG It was Stiff Little Fingers who hit me that night It was just as if someone had turned on the light And then handed me over the keys to the world One that wasn't just homework and football and girls But was everything I'd ever wanted to know And for a kid with no friends That was some place to go. The Clash taught me music isn't there on a shelf You live it and breathe it! You think for yourself! They packed me off to Jamaica Bob, Jimmy and Toots Gave my rockers and radicals reggae and roots Woody Guthrie said this land was my land to roam Billy Bragg said with no band you go it alone Joe Hill showed me legends can live down the ages Paul Simmonds that stories can slip between pages In history books, and it's our job to write em Pete Seeger, injustices stand up and fight em You don't fake it to make it You don't beg for a deal You write what you see And you sing what you feel. Johnny Cash taught me one thing I'll never forget That's your voicecan ring truer the older you get Dick Gaughan said I had to work out before I start writing, what I'm fighting And what I'm fighting it for Propagandhi said hit hard and fast with no pity Tom Waits showed me romance Don't have to look pretty Bruce Springsteen he said that it's ok to dream Gillian Welch that a whisper can drown out a scream Mega City Four that you're never alone The Weakerthans that there's no place like home Attila and TV Smith keep up the fight And The King Blues the showed me The kids are alright Cos they've got it, they get it, they know what it means They all had that moment I had at 14. So Ii'm old now, I'm shattered I'm tattered and torn But like Rancid I'll stand here And weather the storm no matter what Because like them I know When I got the music There's a place I can go
The path to the future Is paved by them who fight Who fly the banner skyward Who stand up for their rights See when it comes Well it don't come from above Change it comes when fights are fought By people like us I'll battle on I'll see em out I will kick and scream and shout Til the the day that no-one goes without My friend I've got Woody, Jack and Joe At my shoulder so I know Not even death is the end You've got to battle on my friend Now old Tom Paine Told me the fight never ends It'll cost you your family It'll cost you your friends But know this, son If that's the path you choose You'll never win Oh but we'll never lose I'll battle on I'll see em out I will kick and scream and shout Til the the day that no-one goes without My friend I've got Woody, Jack and Joe At my shoulder so I know Not even death is the end You've got to battle on my friend
I rattled tins on corners Through The Strike in 84 As Thatcher wreaked her havoc In this town I remember hunger Like I'd never felt before And the day their truncheons Laid my Daddy down But we wouldn't bow to Thatcher then And I'm sure not bowing now "You stand your ground, You never let them win." Daddy made me promise that And I swore a solemn vow If I had to spend my whole life Rattling tins Like lambs queued for the slaughter Or turkeys writing Christmas cards There's working people Voting Tory still But I'm a miner's daughter And I know when times are hard I've got something They can never kill And if I have to march a million miles With banners held up high Just tell me when and where That march begins For I will not break that vow I made Until the day I die If I have to spend my whole life Rattling tins
Dear Mr Black Dog, Don't think by these tears That I'm beat, in defeat After all of these years Of you growling and howling And prowling around Up inside of my head A soundtrack That pound, pound, pound Pounds back incessantly Down all my days, A constant critique of my words And my ways And how everyone hates me; How they don't like my songs; How I hurt those I love; How I only do wrong; How am I so stupid? How can I not see, That they're not really cheering But laughing at me? How I can't see the damage I do; And then how, A less selfish man Would have give up by now. Some days the tears come But by them I swear That's not me defeated I've just come up for air. And yes there's been damage- Emotional cost- But the fact I'm still standing here Means that you lost. So Dear Mr Black Dog Come on, do your worst. I'm staring you down And I will not blink first.
When I was young my Papa told me: "Son, Word to the wise before the bullies come. You stare em down and tell em 'DO YOUR WORST' The pick the biggest one and hit him first." I don't give up I don't give in And sure enough them bullies came to call This gang they pushed me back against a wall I said: "If I was you I'd turn and run. There might be five of you, but I'm my fathers' son." I don't give up I don't give in A reputation ain't no bad thing see. A job need doing, they come call on me. See they know I never cut and run. I stick around and get the damn thing done. I don't give up I don't give in My best friend, Ali, was a dark-skinned man Came over here to lend a helping hand One night three of em and a hunting knife They cornered Ali and they took his life. I was 50 when I took the last one down Back of a bar way out in Camden Town Boot on his throat I said: "You know who I am. It's been 30 years, but I'm a patient man." I don't give up I don't give in
Pulling 10 til 8's at Renny's It was driving me beserk And I'd stopped for twenty Bennies On my way back home from work When shuffle sent a song my way I hadn't heard in years 'Complete Control' came pounding out And I fought back the tears It must have been November Cos me Dad was still at home When The Clash hit Boro Town Hall With that riot all their own We'd spiked our hair with soap And we'd sewn zips into our jeans Looking back we hadn't much of nothing But our dreams Chorus: There was me and Jack and Johnny And a stolen bottle of gin We didn't have a penny But the band they let us in Took me 30 years to see it On a Number 19 bus! The Clash didn't smash the Town Hall That was us There was Mick and Paul and Topper And in the centre of the stage There was Strummer barking orders In that mystic kinda rage This was our Rebel Army And they'd come to take our town We let out all our anger And we tore the damn place down Chorus The band are dead and gone now And I thought I was too But Strummer woke up something When he shouted: "That means you!" And I jacked my job at Renny's What I'll do now, I don't know But I owed it to the young man I was All them years ago And the moral of this story Is you've one life, don't you blow it And anyone can change the world It's just most of us don't know it You either live life like you mean it Or you rack up more regrets And I'm 53 next Friday But I aren't finished yet Took me 30 years to see it On a Number 19 bus! The Clash didn't smash the Town Hall That was us.
While some are waiting for the spark to fire up their heart She just rolls her sleeves up and says 'Let's make a start!" She says that poverty's a punishment that has no crime And if I have to I will save the world one life at a time Chorus: One life at a time One life at a time If I have to I will save the world One life at a time She says a lot of good, good people gonna die out there And all to feed the greed of them who'll never care And from here it might well look like it's a mountain to climb But if I have I will save the world one life at a time Chorus She says I just can't bear to see good people going without And I've every right to stand and fight to scream and to shout You find the first to justify it are the last to care And I may not have that much, but what I've got I will share And with that she disappeared out there into the dark To spread the love she's got inside that big, big heart And if you ever think your mountain is too steep to climb You can always try to save the world one life at a time
We SHALL Overcome We have to It's as simple as that. No-one in power will stoop down this low From their Ivory Tower to help us you know And your history books, they will all tell you so. We must take up the struggle ourselves. We SHALL Overcome We have no choice. A voice lost in silence Just incites the violence of class war waged from on high Unleashing a rage of lie upon lie In a storm of statistics which abuse and decry And prove nothing Except what they were made for Sought and bought and paid for We SHALL Overcome With a raised fist and a helping hand For we understand that THIS paves our path Let compassion fashion out a future from this heartless past That today breathes its last For tomorrow has yet to be written



Hope is the best of things.

Sadly, too many of us have given up on it. We've allowed it to be slowly eroded by decade after decade of the Politics of Despair where nothing can ever get any better because this is the only possible path to follow, and change only ever makes things worse.

For too long our outpourings have been wholly negative ones. We see a problem and make no attempt to solve it, we just latch on to the nearest scapegoat and take our frustrations out on them because this is the way we have long been encouraged to behave. It is cathartic, it is easy, and it keeps us EXACTLY where we are.

In this way we have become aggressive defenders of the status quo. We don't want change. We SAY we do, but all we REALLY want is for the status quo to give us a passing nod from time to time all the while cowering from the idea that change can influence the path ahead in any positive way, because we no longer believe in our heart of hearts that it ever can. We do all we can to reject change while still demanding it of our masters. We join in with the catcalls of the Establishment when anyone comes along suggesting the possibility of a different path, because we have been taught all our lives that there is only one, and we are on it.

We have become conditioned to acceptance and despair. We have become institutionalized by the three-headed beast of injure, deflect and blame. This is the way neo-liberalism plays out on our streets.

But to give up on hope is to give up on the future; and not just our own future, but that of our children and our children's children. To give up on hope is to commit the ultimate act of selfishness.

Don't lose faith. Don't give up on hope. We CAN change things for the better. This is NOT the only possible path forward from here.

And the future?

Well. The future needs us now.


released January 6, 2017


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Joe Solo Scarborough, UK

Joe Solo is an award-winning musician, writer, poet, activist, broadcaster and washing machine engineer from Scarborough.

Live he has an ever growing reputation as both a performer and raconteur, being thought-provoking, comical and punch-the-air political often in the same breath.

He is not an artist you forget in a hurry.
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