I’ve said it many times and I’m going to say it again. My goal and I hope your goal should be to leave our children a better planet. Imagine my surprise last week to have the sound track for that goal arrive in my mailbox. I’m talking about Pittsburgh singer/songwriter Mike Stout’s new CD, “Americana Dreams: Keeping the Promise.”
Mike’ s has a song on it called, “They are the Future” that expresses better than I can about why our children deserve a better world.
It’s not only my new favorite song, it’s a really beautiful song. I think some organization for children’s causes is missing the boat if they don’t contact Mike about using this song as an anthem for their cause.
This is what we used to call a concept album as it all works together. It’s flows like a good documentary should. While the goal is passing the American Dream on to our youth, Mike points out that the powers that be have other plans. They exploit the workers of the world and ruin the Earth’s environment for their own short-term greed.
As far as thinking about hardships workers face, I can’t think of a timelier recording. For example just this week after more than two months trapped deep in a Chilean mine, 33 miners have been rescued. Here is the story behind the story, you haven’t heard about the Chilean miners being victims of a greedy mine company. “Americana Dreams” features a song about miners who weren’t as lucky as the Chilean miners. It’s called, “29 Miners Buried and Gone” about the miners killed six months ago at Upper Big Branch, WV. In the song Mike asks us to honor them by fighting for enforcement of mine safety laws.
It’s great how the media focuses on these miner rescues and the public watches with bated breath. On the other hand, why isn’t the media and public asking why the USA has 18,000 current cases of mine safety violation charges and a two-year backlog of investigations.
Another song about workers on “Americana Dreams” is, “My Brother Did Not Die in Vain.” It’s about Gary Puleio who died at Meadville Redi-Mix in a preventable workplace accident (that the company was eventually charged with and given a puny fine). Mike notes the outrage we have over 3,000 people who died on 9/11. He wonders why we don’t have the same outrage over the 6,000 workers who are killed annually on the job in the U.S. As Mike rightly sings that is a figure equal to two 9-11’s.
Mike’s haunting song, “The Tale of Marcellus Shale” covers our nations most recent environmental threat. Marcellus Shale is a layer of sedimentary rock that contains untapped natural gas reserves. Gas companies use a mixture of 596 secret chemicals, they explode underground to create an earthquake that releases natural gas. This procedure has been poisoning wells, streams, and rivers with cancer causing fluids from these 596 chemical cocktails. Are you asking yourself how can companies get away with poisoning people’s drinking water?
Maybe, you remember hearing about those secret closed-door meetings Dick Cheney held with executives and lobbyists from the coal, nuclear, gas, and oil industries after getting in office. The meetings released a report that lead to an energy bill with measures that eased federal rules for energy projects and exemptions from key environmental laws (like the Water Safety Act) for natural gas producers. Who would have thought two oil men as president and vice-president would have put the profits of energy companies before the safety of the public? How about anyone with a head on their shoulders.
For more on the Marcellus Shale danger watch the documentary, “Gasland.” It’s on On Demand, so if you have HBO it should be available. Here is a trailer from Gasland.
Mike takes on what can be done about the debt facing our children. He does this in the song, “We Are the Cops of the World.” He sings about how we can no longer afford to spend four-hundred million dollars a day on over 700 military bases in 130 plus countries around the world. While corporations are getting rich from supplying our country’s military outposts and wars, our government is getting in debt to other nations to finance this militarization. Meanwhile, our nation has a decaying infrastructure, more and more home foreclosures, job losses, cuts in education and people going without medical care. That four-hundred million a day could go along way to taking care of problems in the U.S. and paying down the bills our children will be inheriting.
Globalization seeks the world’s cheapest labor and which ever countries will allow the most environmental rape. The undeniable fact is the middle-class is disappearing while the rich are get richer. This is the system we have and the rich few at the top want to keep it this way. Mike tells us what needs to be done in the hard rocking, “We Need a New System.”
A movement like the Tea Party that is corporate financed and controlled will not deliver us a new system, only entrench us in the one we need to escape. Are any of these nutty Tea Party candidates someone you’d want as a leader?
Mike looks around the world and gives us the best example of a system that is working. It is the democratic, horizontal, empowering southern Brazil movement called, the MST. This Brazilian Landless Workers Movement started with 400 members and now has 1.5 million. They have taken on Brazil’s wealthiest 3% of the population that owns two-thirds of all farmable lands. The MST has won land titles for more than 350,000 poor families.They have also taught over 50,000 landless workers to read and write. These are reasons why activist, Noam Chomsky, calls the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) the world’s most important social movement.
In the song, “MST” over a cool laid back island beat Mike sings,
“A new kind of woman, a new kind of man,
New ways to relate, irrigate and work the land;
Teachin’ common people how to think for themselves,
How to share the wealth and be a family called the MST.”
In the honky tonkin’, ” Back in the U S of A.” Mike takes on the world’s Hollywood image of the USA Mike tells how, “we’ve got a few making millions and millions making minimum wage.” He sings about how, “it’s the land of milk and honey only if you’ve got the money.” Mike conveys that the real wealth of the USA is her hard-working people who’d give you the shirt off of their back. Speaking of hard work, Mike’s has once again assembled some very talented musicians to give his hard-hitting lyrics the justice they deserve!
Mike let’s us know that we need to work together because what we can accomplish is bigger than our differences. What we can accomplish is the American Dream which we owe to our children. Mike, like me, is not going to accept that B.S. about how our children are not going to have it as good as we had it. It’s high time to make the powers that be dance to a different tune and Mike has supplied the soundtrack for that mission. I believe music can be a driving force for change and I’m glad Mike Stout is behind the wheel.
“American Dream” includes these eight songs (and five more) that are musical vitamins that will nourish your soul and make you heart happy. Do not keep out of reach of children as large doses only make for a better future!
Mike is one those friends that I’m a better person for knowing. You’ll also be a better person for knowing his music. Get a copy of “Americana Dreams” or any of a dozen of Mike’s other CDs by contacting Mike here. Or call Mike at 412-461-5650 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
To hear some music from Mike’s, “Americana Dreams: Keeping the Promise” click on any of the first seven songs available here.
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”