Friday, June 12, 2009

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It

Something very special this evening for Music Night at the Wild Reed – it’s the new music video for Buffy Sainte-Marie’s song “No, No Keshagesh,” taken from her 2008 album Running for the Drum.

One of the intentions that I consistently pray for is that each one of us may be open to embodying the paradigm shift in consciousness that many believe humanity is currently in the midst of. It’s a shift, a movement, from greed to justice, from apathy to compassion, and from mindless consumption to sustainable growth.

Artist, activist, and educator Buffy Sainte Marie has been embodying this shift in consciousness for decades, and in doing so has been an inspiration to many. Her song “No, No Keshagesh” is both a rousing anthem for a new way of being in the world and a stinging critique of a paradigm to which more and more people are saying “No!” - due to its inherent injustice, violence, and destructiveness of the entire planet.

Buffy notes in the liner notes of Running for the Drum that keshagesh means “Greedy Guts . . . It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own and then wants everybody else’s.” The term is appropriately employed as a metaphor for corporate greed in Buffy’s powerful “No, No Keshagesh” –
“Mister Greed, I think your time has come; I’m gonna sing it and pray it and live it and say it, singing: No, No Keshagesh you can’t do that no more . . .”

I’m with you, Buffy. I’m with you.

I never saw so many business suits
Never knew a dollar sign could look so cute
Never knew a junkie with a money jones
They singing Who’s sellin’ Park Place?
Who’s buying Boardwalk?

These old men they make their dirty deals
Go in the back room and see what they can steal
Talk about your beautiful for spacious skies
It’s about uranium; it’s about the water rights

Got Mother Nature on a luncheon plate
They carve her up and call it real estate
Want all the resources and all of the land
They make a war over it; blow things up for it

The reservation out at Poverty Row
There’s something cooking and the lights are low
Somebody trying to save our mother earth
I’m gonna help ’em to save it
and sing it and pray it, singing . . .

No, no Keshagesh, you can’t do that no more!

Old Columbus he was looking good
When he got lost in our neighborhood
Garden of Eden right before his eyes
Now it’s all spyware;
now it’s all income tax

Old Brother Midas looking hungry today
What he can’t buy he’ll get some other way
Send in the troopers in the natives resist
Old, old story boys; that’s how ya do it, boys

Look at these people, Lord, they’re on a roll
Got to have it all; got to have complete control
Want all the resources and all of the land
They break the law for it;
blow things up for it

While all our champions are off in the war
Their final rip-off here at home is on
Mister Greed, I think your time has come
I’m gonna sing it and pray it
and live it and say it, singing . . .

No, no Keshagesh, you can’t do that no more!

“No, No Keshagesh” is by no means the first time that Buffy Sainte-Marie has addressed the issue of corporate greed. In 1992, for instance, seven years before the “Battle in Seattle,” she recorded “Priests of the Golden Bull,” in which she sang knowingly of the threats to democracy, human life, and the environment posed by corporate-led globalization. “Priests of the Golden Bull” can be heard on Buffy’s album Coincidence and Likely Stories, as can “The Big Ones Get Away,” highlighted previously at The Wild Reed.

Recommended Off-site Links:
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Official Website
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Mouthbows to Cyberskins
Buffy Sainte-Marie UK
Buffy Sainte-Marie Tribute Site
Buffy on Sesame Street
Beyond Images of Women and Indians: Straight-talk from a Cree Icon - Brenda Norrell (Censored News, 1999/2008).
A Review of Running for the Drum

Previous artists featured on “Music Night at the Wild Reed”: The Church, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield, Wall of Voodoo, Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy, Pink Floyd, Kate Ceberano, Judith Durham, Wendy Matthews, Buffy Sainte-Marie, 1927, Mavis Staples, Maxwell, Joan Baez, Tee Set, Darren Hayes, Wet, Wet, Wet, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Cruel Sea, Shirley Bassey, Loretta Lynn & Jack White, Foo Fighters, Jenny Morris, Kate Bush, Rufus Wainwright, and Dusty Springfield.

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