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by mike skliar

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In 1979 4 college students took a road trip from Schenectady (just north of Albany) to Rochester to see a Jethro Tull concert. Got to Rochester, Found out the concert was canceled. (Believe it or not at the show before , someone had thrown a rose on stage in the thorn it Ian Anderson‘s eye, scratching his cornea. I shit you not) But that’s not what I came to tell you. Seems we were all in high spirits on the way to the show, each bring our own little personal stash of what were at the time slightly illegal substances. So driving three hours there we were not happy to hear the show has been canceled and we’re driving back, feeling low and mean. I was at the wheel not much the worse for wear but in the backseat , drinking a beer, was a friend of a friend from Virginia, where I guess open beer in the car was not a big thing. 1 mile from our Schenectady exit , cop pulled us over doing 80 in a 60. Peers into the car , looked in the backseat with that friend of my friend from Virginia and his open beer. Asked the rest of us “do you have any drugs“. Guy sitting next to me, classic wise ass, says “no but I wish we did“. Of course all of us were sitting on our personal little dime bags. Cop never searched us. Gave me a ticket for speeding and a ticket for an expired registration. Reason I mention the whole thing is…. If you were white in America, you may have a similar story. All of us white guys or most of us anyway, probably have a moment when things could’ve tipped in the balance all sorts of ways. Had we been four black kids, would we be just getting out of jail now? Or worse? I’ll leave it to you to watch the news and draw your own conclusions. Here’s a little song about that:.. Some countries have one justice system, America’s got two Depending on your race and social class, there are different outcomes its true It’s a complicated situation, lots of factors, you can list ‘em But the reality is that equality is still not part of the system The reality is that equality is still not part of the system
I’ve gotten to a strange new place When friends my age wake up dead diagnosis, remission, suspicion, attrition What the hell lies ahead We take so much for granted We think that time always remains Time has the last laugh Gives us joy then pain Chorus Do we have to keep breaking our hearts (3x) Till our hearts break open So many sob’s live to the age of 99 So many good people that I’ve known Have died in their prime I know no one said it was fair But it’s a farce of cosmic dimensions. If I met the maker, I’d say you’re a faker Just looking for attention Chorus Do we have to keep breaking our hearts (3x) Till our hearts break open Bridge When our hearts break open, it lets in the sadness We otherwise would miss But not letting it in, that way lies madness We need to feel it to exist Yeah we have to keep breaking our hearts 3x Till our hearts break open
63 02:17
63, that’s me, getting older then a middle aged oak tree 63, interesting thing to see, on the whole it ain’t a bad reality 63 don’t come for free, got a few little aches in the joints, in the knees 63 not to speak to graphically, but in the middle of the night you’ll have to go pee 63, still not nearly as bad as it’s gonnna be, as my friend Seth says, ‘its not gonna end well’… I guess we’ll see Ive been doing these once a year songs for several years now You would think I would have amassed a whole trove of wisdom in song somehow You would think….. My 64th year, ain’t nothing really to fear, though of course things can slide in any direction I’m not the only one getting older, and the casualties of friends and family slowly piles up and up , against that there’s no protection Meanwhile I’m still doing my thing, whatever that is, so I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on And next year you might expect yet another birthday song
What makes one person laugh makes another weep One throws something the other wants to keep What turns on person on turns another off One person yells approval the other starts to cough It’s a big world and there’s something for everyone And everyone’s got something We’re all venn diagrams passing thru the night Finding that overlap to make that special light Sometimes a corporate lawyer becomes a pilot in the air force Sometimes a racecar driver gives it up to ride a horse Some change their hairstyles, some change their gender Some pack up their memories and mark return to sender It’s a big world…. I love it when people get in touch with their different inner self And find something inside that was frozen So fly any kind of flag, figure out whats your bag The more you choose the more you’re chosen It’s a big world…
Spiral 02:35
There’s nothing sadder then watching your parents slow decline Indignities pile up, some of their bodies, some of their minds I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do And whats happening to them, sooner or later will happen to me and you Ch I know its part of life’s journey But how much longer till they’re lying on a hospital gurney Sorry to bring down the mood, I didn’t want to be rude There are plateaus, where they’re doing ok for a while Then there’s an episode, another chapter in a medical file Ch I know its part of life’s journey But how much longer till they’re lying on a hospital gurney Sorry to bring down the mood, I didn’t want to be rude Spiraling down, that’s the direction of travel Spiraling down, things start to unravel Spiraling down
Three coyotes howling at my door Past coyote reminds me of misdeeds I’ve done before Coyote of the present tense looking at me from a picket fence Third one might be a charm, or just might do me harm Third one might be a charm, or just might do me harm I’m not a big believer in fate I have only 3 coyotes, tho, some folks have 8 Best we do is keep the pace, and for a while win the race Its gonna go just fine, till coyote gets you down the line Its gonna go just fine, till coyote gets you down the line Bridge We’re dealing with our wild beasts Howling from below and above But can you make those noises cease Turn them to a rhapsody of love? I know this metaphor is overused Three coyotes, three ghosts, three verses of the blues coyote sitting on my fence, sometimes life does not make sense best I can reckon, coyote wins, I come in second best I can reckon, coyote wins, I come in second
The resources we use to grow animals as meat Growing plants is 10 times more efficient Flying out of season crops worldwide takes lots of oil So much better to be self-sufficient Eating is a political act Mankind was OK with slavery before Now animal cruelty’s ignored and erased But if a youtube channel just showed slaughterhouses Eating meat might be considered bad taste Eating is a political act What are we hungry for? What do we desire? The taste of animal sacrifices Burned on a fire? I have no answers only questions But evolve we must to survive The food systems we have are unsustainable For us all to stay alive
Iowa Nazis call for a day of hate There’s anti-semitism in every state You thought attacks on Jews were in the past Its doubled in the last 3 years and growing fast Ex-president dines with white supremicists Fascist wannabees who love an iron fist You hear it in the margins, in dark internet spaces Even a member of Congress talks about Jewish space lasers The oldest conspiracy theory on Earth Is that Jews two tenths of one percent control the net worth And when the demogogues sing that as their greatest hits The next stop Treblinka and Auschwitz On that bus tour of hatred, some get on at ‘anti woke’ Then start spreading fear about black and latin folks After bashing gays and trans people, the next stop on their tour Is hatred of the Jews, its there in their brochure You hear folks say, maybe they control Hollywood As if we’re all meeting in a secret neighborhood It’s the same fucking lies that Adolf Hitler yelled There’s always people buying, that hatred that sells You can minimize and say its not really occurring But there are more and more places where this bullshit is stirring. How many killed in the Pittsburg synagogue Take pre-existing hatred and add a demogogue So as we try to figure out a future forecast The question is can we escape the hatreds of the past Anti semitism can’t be ignored or tolerated Its got to be confronted and repudiated So as we try to figure out a future forecast The question is can we escape the hatreds of the past
You ever get some unexpected anger from a friend And think, well, maybe that friendship has got to end What you said hurt I ain’t gonna lie The whole thing left me kind of tongue tied In time my thinkin’ might be more level I guess we’re all fighting our own devils Sometimes people you least expect disappoint you the most Its not just a little reality, more like a lethal dose Communication sometimes breaks down And silence is sometimes the loneliest sound Usually many reasons, not just one but several And also folks are fighting their own devils Ah but accountability matters And if you can’t cop to your part It might not be so easy To make a new start So where does that leave us, where indeed Give it a little time, plant that little seed Some plants die, and some plants grow No one knows exactly how the future goes In the end we’re all six feet below sea level After fighting with our very own devils
The other day I was saying these words to the wife People are eulogized at the end of their life You hear it said, ‘they were a big influence Only when they’re fading, about to be past tense Amazing expressions, so beautiful and sublime Deserve to be expressed at an earlier time Don’t wait, till you hear someone’s demise To express, how much you idolize Let’s say it now, go ahead shout from the roof Life’s too short to stay aloof Tell someone that you love, what you’re really thinking of Tell someone what they mean to you right now
Sunset 01:50
I can’t believe you’re not here Here, where we all met Now, a sunset
One political party, is banning books in schools Typical authoritarian refuge of fools God forbid kids learn slavery was evil Their educational system is medieval One political party took away womans’ right to choose Marriage equality might just be the next thing we lose What happened to the line between church and state Sorry I don’t want your catholic church to dominate One political party thinks climate change is fake Oil companies fund politicians who are on the take I don’t care how many museums the Koch (coke) brothers donate Climate crisis must be addressed before it is too late One political party seems OK with treason Why do I say that, well here are a few reasons The Republican election big lie was rejected by 52 courts January 6 makes me sick, to republicans it was just a sport One party will not raise the debt ceiling, hey that’s not fair They did it three times under Trump, for tax cuts for billionaires They’ve already spent our money, so Elon pays no tax But listening to Fox news you’ll never get those facts One political party is ok with lying liars George Santos a child of Holocaust survivors, pants on fire While the other political party made Al Franken quit Just for telling a joke that was off color a little bit One party’s leader hes a sad excuse for a joke Dines with antisemites, racial hatred he stokes After Charlottsville he said Nazis are good folks They camouflage his hatred by using words like ‘woke’ One political party thinks ‘wokeness’ is a sin To actually respect other people, they don’t want to begin They play up phony culture wars in order to keep power I wish they’d go back to the days of Dwight Eisenhower One political party, has gone well off the rails You need a two party system, or things start to fail You know what to do, you know the solution Vote for the Democrat and honor the Constitution
Tadpole Theo was feeling blue swimming thru the water supposed to have a tail by now At least he thought he oughta His friends and classmates they had tails By near the end of the fall But Theo didn’t have one yet Just no tail at all When winter came and froze the pond The tadpoles all did panic Their tails grew ice like an iceberg does Like the one that sank Titanic And off in a secluded part Of a freezing slushy stew Theo looked down and there he saw Something that was new His tail at last arrived New Year A happy Theo would hum This is the biggest change so far There’s no more ones to come Fast forward a couple months Tadpoles all lost their tails For they had all turned into frogs Except Theo who failed The frogs were all captured By the French Foreign Legion And sitting in some butter sauce On plates served on frog season But Theo the late bloomer He escaped that sad sad fate He swam away, and left that scene What saved him was he was late He finally turned into a frog Had a story to tell Befriended a toad and was written about By Arnold Lobel So next time you read Frog and Toad to your kids, you regale Now you know the backstory Of the winter’s tail
One more mass shooting, the third this week And its only Wednesday So here’s another song for you fuckin gun freaks Tho there’s not much more to say Blood is on your hands, blood on your face Every time you fight us on gun control It works in Europe, Canada, hell, every place But NRA Americans they got no soul You babble on and on about amendment two Forgetting the ‘well regulated militia’ part You parrot fox news, monkey see monkey do Your arguments make less sense then a monkey fart How many kids have to die horrible deaths Before you realize that you’ve been wrong How many schoolchildren take their last breath With the hope that one day sanity will come along
Bodega 02:40
the corner bodega, is no longer here for 30 years they had sold milk, ice and beer Flowers on mother’s day, valentine’s too Its where I bought flowers for you Everyone’s shopping online it seems Retail’s dead, a too common theme I used to stop in, get a ‘hi’ or a nod The silence , well now it feels odd The shelves are all empty, there’s nothing for sale Debris of the city piles up, without fail This vacant store will soon be an eyesore The corner bodega’s no more On the wall an old flyer from last year’s election When the landlord raised the rent there was no protection The landlord get a vacancy tax break for years the corner store’s no longer here Bodegas like this are going away Faster and faster, what can you say? All of those doorways, now all padlocked Its happening on every block
I was living in the suburbs, far from the action The last train back left at 12:02 So if I was in the city, soaking up urban culture Too late, there was nothing you could do Wait till five am for the next train Or an expensive taxi ride , that’d be insane What to do, what to do, what to do Now over thousands of years there’s been some wisdom About the ins and outs of relationships Advice in the bible, in Shakespeare, on TV And on all your relative’s lips But of all the advice that I’ve heard The best are these three words Location, Location, Location Pick your spouse with location in mind If your partner has a place in a desirable space that’s the partner that you want to find location, location, location let geography be your guide if anyone tells you where you live is not important I can tell you that that person has lied Its just as easy to love someone Who lives in the best part of the city Who wants a mate where the commute is not great And the neighborhood is kind of shitty?
I miss travel to far off places That feeling when you’re boarding a plane That wide-eyed surprise when you realize Even the sky doesn’t look the same I miss gathering travel information Waking up in a foreign capitol Visiting the local markets Dodging the running of the bulls Jet lag, unpacking the bag Unfamiliar menu selections That feeling of adventure everywhere Don’t matter just pick a direction I’ve done less travel then many But enough to feel the allure One bit of advice I have Do it yourself not part of some big tour Life needs its share of accidents For chance and luck to grow some roots Plan enough so you don’t spin your wheels Don’t overplan the route


"63" is both my age and the title of my latest album. All but one song (Fred Mertz blues) was written and recorded in the month of February 2023.as part of the online project known as "February Album Writing Month" (FAWM) which is a community of about a thousand songwriters from around the world, who challenge each other to write 14 songs in this 28-day month. I've been participating since 2006 (it started in 2004)

As is typical for me in these types of projects, this album is a musical and personal journey that acts as a type of diary or time capsule of what was happening with and around me for that month and that year. As you can year, concerns about getting older, aging parents and contemporaries with health issues, as well as occasionally some political/global concerns have made the cut this year.

I've started the album off with an unusual track, "Schenectady Story/Equality" which starts off with a two minute spoken story with musical backing about an adventure I had back in 1979. (You'll notice, however, that if you just stumbled on this page, the title track '63' starts playing first, as I thought it's at least a little more representative, though there are many different styles of music on here.

I hope all who listen (and feel free to download! free or pay what you want!.. and free is fine!) enjoy the music and lyrics here, and have as much fun as I did in making it all.

A few specific points about the songs- I got the chorus/title of 'Do we have to keep breaking our hearts (till they break open)' from a sign on a nearby lamppost advertising some sort of arts group. The song 'One more mass shooting' has some not-safe-for-work language, but I was moved to anger with news of yet another shooting here in the US, and wrote it this way. The song 'eating is a political act' was inspired by some vegan and vegetarian friends of mine- I'm not a vegan, but I'm trying to be at least a little more conscious, food-wise. The song 'Geography of relationships' is basically one long joke with a punchline you may have heard before, and no, I'm not serious (though its a funny meme for sure). Theo's winter's tail is a kind of kids song/shaggy dog story (or shaggy tadpole story, perhaps, with some children's lit joke at the end) It was inspired by a prompt in a songwriting challenge as part of FAWM to write a song about a 'winter's tale' and I of course took the idea sideways. The music (though not the lyric) of 'Bodega' was inspired by the late Burt Bacharach's wide-ranging melodies. The concluding piece, 'Baritone sunset' is an instrumental (I do some wordless vocals along with playing the baritone guitar, however)

The photo for the 'cover' was shot at McSorley's Ale House here in NYC, right at the old pot-bellied stove where Woody Guthrie was photographed singing back in the 1940's. Photo taken by my nephew Joe Miller, thanks Joey!



released March 3, 2023

Mike Skliar- acoustic guitars,,mandolin, uke, , baritone, resonator, and 12 string guitars, electric guitar, bass, harmonica, percussion, vocals, and background vocals.

All songs written by Michael Skliar (c) 2023


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mike skliar New York, New York

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