My Kingdom for a Song

by mike skliar

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about

What do King Richard III, singing horses, Ed Koch, the Andrews Sisters, Wal-mart shoppers, George Harrison, your bathroom mirror, and LBJ all have in common? Why, the latest album by NYC singer/songwriter Mike Skliar.

Its a mix of acoustic, electric, and (this is new for me) natural and computer generated sounds, rooted as always in rock, jazz, blues, and folk. It's the place where unlikely tributes, tall tales, stories about aging, love, politics and political issues and the virtues and vices of New York City all meet and come together.

This album was written, and largely recorded, in the month of February 2013, as part of February Album Writing Month (fawm.org).

This is my fourth album, more or less, and I'm rather proud of it, I think its some of my best songs, and recordings, to date. - mike skliar

credits

released March 3, 2013

Mike Skliar- vocals, acoustic, electric and resonator guitars, bass guitar, harmonicas, mandolin, percussion ,keyboards, programming (garageband, thumbjam, chordbot, others), production (except 'sleep in the sleeve')

on 'sleep in the sleeve erik didriksen produced and did drum programming, and pekka kolehmainen played bass.

all songs written by mike skliar except for 'walmart shoppers'- written by patrick madden and mike skliar, and 'sleep in the sleeve' lyrics by patrick madden and music by pekka kolehmainen, erik didriksen and mike skliar.

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Track Name: Richard III
My kingdom for a horse I said
My bad luck I ended up dead
Lying under a parking lot
500 year old bones are all I got
Now I know what Shakespeare meant
this long long winter of my discontent
Especially for me King Richard the third

I never saw that god-dammed play
they made the movie with Olivier
Every two bit thespian has played the role
But all of them lack my heart and soul
I'm the only one with the right accent
To say this is the winter of our discontent
That’s right, me King Richard the third

Every other actor’s spine is straight
I’m all set, though I've lost some weight
To my friend Abe last week I said
hard to get work after you're dead
I still like to somehow pay the rent
singing now is the winter of our discontent
Who knows better than me King Richard the third

No one but me could tell that tale
talk to my agent I work for scale
There's no one better you could get
then this here Plantagenet
The only one who's lived all those events
500 winters of our discontents
Who knows better than me Richard the third?

I see a big musical number round about act three
After I've killed those princes it's time for a soliloquy

Some other actors have won more awards
I bet none of them can handle a sword
I’ll kill them all if it comes to blows
Kevin Spacey, Ian McKellen and Al Pacino
I’ll put those other guys in cement
Now will be the winter of their discontent
Who’s badder than me, King Richard the third
© M. Skliar 2013
Track Name: Horse Music
Way back when 120 years ago
If there were places that you had to go
There were no cars to drive yourself around
Nobody heard those engine sounds

A different propulsion was all the rage
For this was part of the equestrian age
Horses carried people all over the place
Every single trip was a horse race

And thru all sorts of weather even rain and snow
People with horses, no cars, no car radios
So on those journeys people would get bored
To hear some music would be such a reward

And the horses had a feeling they would soon be replaced soon
And so to keep us happy they would sing a tune..

Horse music, sung by horses,
arranged by horses, and performed by same
once you’ve heard horse music nothing else will seem the same…

but tho the music was oh so sweet
sooner or later the horses had to admit defeat
the automobile age could not be delayed
but let’s celebrate those days when the horses with a neigh… (sang)

Horse music, sung by horses,
arranged by horses, and performed by same
once you’ve heard horse music nothing else will seem the same…


(c) M. Skliar 2013
Track Name: Ed Koch and NYC
Started out a liberal congressman
Got rid of DiSapio and those Tammany hall men
When you first ran for Mayor, New York was way down
A fiscal crisis, almost a ghost town
You turned it around with that New York talk
‘how’m I doin’ , you said it everywhere you walked
New York was you, in your face, not always pretty
But we were proud of you here in New York City


Reelected with over 70 percent
Began to think you was heaven sent
Ran for governor, that was a mistake
Back in NYC, could not catch a break
Scandals started coming all around your door
Stanley Friedman and Donald manes, kickbacks galore
Riots and unrest, things starting to get gritty
Time for a change in New York City


You had a third term, third terms are problematic
What once was loveable, now seemed like a cheap trick
‘How’m I doin’, started to feel like a joke
A slap in the face to working class folks
The aids crisis hit, you could have done more
Some say you were closeted, and with yourself you were at war
Started out a great mayor, ended up kinda shitty
Happens everywhere, even New York City

We sometimes forget, how bad it was in the 70’s
Blackouts, riots, the Son of Sam and the graffiti
But you turned it around with that new York talk
“How’m I doin’?” you said it everwhere you walked
New York is pidgeons, pretzels, pizza and pastrami
You were part of that, no always pretty
Here in New York City…

(For Ed Koch)

© 2013 M. Skliar
Track Name: Welcome the pain and pleasure
Love is lovely with lovely creatures
But with humans it’s complicated
Up and down is the normal pattern
Love and hate are so interrelated

Welcome the pain and pleasure of love
You might as well let it in
You’ll be dancing on a sugar cloud of butter frosting
Then get hit by a rolling pin

It’s no pain no gain in affairs of the heart
That muscle needs its scar tissue
Just when you think you’ve found your soulmate
Your soulmate has another point of view

It’s like the weather these days, one day it’s sixty, the next its negative nine
It’s not personal to you it’s just a byproduct of the design

Cause humans are funny and humans are strange
Predictably unpredictable
Up is down and down is up and any way you turn
You won’t pull my eyes under your wool

(c) 2013 M. Skliar
Track Name: Take Your Guns
You think they’re coming to take your guns But they’re not, unless you got an assault rifle
Which you might need to shoot a deer, just in case he bothers you a little, more than a trifle
And the socialist Muslim Kenyan president who resides in your mind
Better not show up on your doorstep or you’ll show him who’s boss this time

You’re gonna overthrow the Federal Government, with your little cache of arms
Just like they did it before, just like your daddy on the farm
But daddy’s no longer on the farm, he’s waiting for his social security check
And we’d all be a whole lot better if you were playing with a full deck

You got your tri-cornered hat and your one track mind, and your solution is more guns
In schools, malls, movie theaters, anywhere, like that’ll protect anyone
The guards at Virginia Tech, had lots of guns and couldn’t stop the shooter
You don’t believe me, of course you don’t, look it up on the computer

A well-regulated militia’ is how the second amendment starts
But reading’s not your forte; you know you just ain’t that smart
You’re ignorant as to who, where, when and why
And you’re proud of your guns no matter how many die

You’ve made so many Hitler comparisons, the Germans might just sue
and you only listen to people who share your point of view

You think they’re coming to take your guns But they’re not, unless you got an assault rifle
Which you might need to shoot a deer, just in case he bothers you a little, more than a trifle

© 2013 M. Skliar
Track Name: Bathroom Mirror
In the blue hazy morn, I flicked a switch for the overhead bathroom light
One look at the mirror above the sink and I had a terrible fright
For I am but twenty three years old, in my 24th year am I
But the man who looked at the mirror at me had wrinkles around his eyes
His hair was black but streaked with grey, and his face was sagging and round
And looking at the rest of him, he had put on many a pound
But he looked oh so familiar in the nose, the chin and the eyes
For staring back was an older me, much to my shock and surprise

Was I still dreaming in my bed, imagining this whole scene
Of me thirty years later, what could the whole thing mean?
Cause I turn twenty three today, today is my birthday you see
Yes twenty three as I was born on February Three
But then there’s the matter of the year it’s a round number ending in Oh
Born in 1960, that makes me 23,, wait, that’s 53…. D’oh!


(c) M. Skliar 2013
Track Name: LBJ
LBJ I wanted to write you a song
But I would have had to write about six
You were such a walking contradiction
A Strange rare and volatile mix

You could steal elections throw your weight around
misrepresent everything you say
There was never born a man you could not
Charm cajole and sway
You were the Zelig of your era
Liberals thought you’re a (perfect) Roosevelt man
While conservatives rednecks and good old boys
Entrusted you with all their plans

And you did it to get more power
But power reveals the man
It's what you did when you got the power
So fascinating to understand

You didn't just expand social security
Medicare and Medicaid
You made civil rights laws happen
Others said ignore it, it'll go away

Brought forth the great society
With the force of an atomic bomb
But your power and force all crumbled
On the shores of Vietnam

And the details of that last tragic bit
Are worthy of Shakespeare's pen
Robert Caro's working on that last volume
So well have to wait till then


(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: Patti, Maxine & LaVerne
Here’s a little song about someone
who used to be the queen of the world
Along with her sisters, no one could resist here
Way back in the day they were three famous girls
Patty Maxine and Laverne

It was a different era, just before world war two
Before cellphones, or even TV
Singing on the radio, three famous lady- oh
Singing the boogie woogie bugle boys of company C
Patty Maxine and Laverne

They split up later, patty went solo,
But joined back, cause they were a team
But later they broke apart again, breaking all our hearts again
And by the end it got rather mean

And Patty was the youngest and the last to go
At the ripe old age of 94
But here’s to that era The gals and the fellas
Way back in the day of the second world war
Patty Maxine and Laverne

© M. Skliar 2013
Track Name: Bound to be Trouble
Bound to be trouble when you’re living in a bubble
And you don’t let the truth enter in
Actual facts are under attack
They’re discarded or given your spin

Theres a long tradition of ignorance
When you see only what you want to see
When the truth can’t get past your own fence
Then trouble there’s bound to be

When you doubt evolution you’re just Lilliputian
The irony is you’ll be extinct
You’ll be pushing up daisies but the rest of you crazies
Never really learned how to think

There’s hurricanes and storming and the threat of global warming
But you’re listening to oil and gas
They’re writing your script so you’ll be equipped
To pull nonsense out of your ass

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: Song for George Harrison
George you would be 70 if you were here today if you were here
Youngest of the fab four, two are not here no more, that feels so weird
Its now been 50 years since I want to hold your hand
Nothing was the same after that band

George you would be 70, if you had not smoked those cigarettes
Those songs are as sturdy as an oak tree, we still listen, we don’t forget
Something in the way you moved, and sang those songs
If I needed someone here comes the sun, and it never felt wrong
Track Name: Attention Wal-mart Shoppers
There's a dog fight down at Wal-Mart for all to see
The job creators finding out who'll work for less
Is it the flat broke retiree with a disability?
Or the widowed mom with three kids and the Goodwill dress?

And the winner gets to scrape by for seven bucks an hour
And the loser learns the lessons of economic defeat
For both life has gone sour cause they don't have the power
You know the poor will work for less when they've got nothing to eat

You read it on every right wings manifesto page
You'll only hurt the poor if you raise the minimum wage
But the profits have gotten larger look where it all went
While the stock prices climb and the money flows to the top half percent

Working minimum wage you’re still below the poverty line
And several million miles from the middle class
In real money in these times, that wage’s value has declined
While the pay has quadrupled to the very top brass


So when you go to Wal-Mart for something cheap to buy
Make sure you look the cashier straight in the eye
She works her ass off for starvation pay
And the ten cents you save will keep it that way

There's a dog fight down at Wal-Mart for all to see
The job creators finding out who'll work for less
Is it the flat broke retiree with a disability?
Or the widowed mom with three kids and the Goodwill dress?

© P. Madden and M. Skliar 2013
Track Name: I'm staying in New York City
While you’re busy shoveling driveways as part of your winter grind
I’m strolling into a warm subway station, and my train is right on time
I ease into a seat do some reading or maybe edit this here song
While you’re cursing at the frozen traffic wondering what went wrong

I got foods from a hundred countries walking distance from my flat
I’m staying here in New York City , and that’s that.

While you’re thinking about the lawn or the hot water heater needing repair
I’m planning my day reading the NY Times, without a care
Maybe a film, museum or play, or jazz at the vanguard, first set’s at nine
I wouldn’t trade this for anything, when this town feels like mine

I got the whole world that’s walking distance from my flat
I’m staying here in New York City, and that’s that

© M. Skliar
Track Name: Hypocrite
If you drive on public roads or went to public schools
Then you say the government is nothing more than fools
If your business got tax breaks or government loans
Then you say ‘who needs government, we’re better on our own’

You’re a hypocrite
Your logic doesn’t fit
I wasn’t gonna say it, but if the shoe fits
You’re a hypocrite


If you say you're apolitical don't care who's in power
and you check out Fox News hour after hour
If you think the Founding Fathers were the only ones pure
And every one since then is rotten for sure

If you live near the shore and want flood relief
Then say everyone in government is just a dirty thief
If you don’t have health insurance and are against Obamacare
Then go to a hospital and think you have a prayer

You’re a hypocrite
Your logic doesn’t fit
I wasn’t gonna say it, but if the shoe fits
You’re a hypocrite

If you want social security and Medicare checks
And worry about the deficit and all of its effects
Then say don’t tax anyone, but keep on paying me
You think you are a patriot but you are guilty (of being..)

(You’re) a hypocrite
Your logic doesn’t fit
I wasn’t gonna say it, but if the shoe fits
You’re a hypocrite

© 2013 M. Skliar
Track Name: Sleep in the Sleeve
One more time the world turns around
One more time the needle drops on in
Run the valley pitch black cliffs
All the time passed is back again


And may tomorrow be just like today
I'm just not ready to leave
May tomorrow be just like today
Don't let me sleep in the sleeve


But in the gap theres the hiss of age
Not 33 and well past 45
Sweet 16 vanished in the past
How long can 78 can stay alive


But may tomorrow be…


Each turn around is a gift
I'm not ready for the lift
Each turn around is gift
I'm not ready for the lift


Lyrics- Patrick Madden
Music- Pekka Kolehmainen, Erik Didriksen, Mike Skliar