About the Prison Music Project

In May 2010, Zoe Boekbinder paid their first visit to New Folsom Prison, a maximum-security penitentiary outside Sacramento, California. They volunteered in New Folsom for four years, until the end of 2014, playing concerts and teaching workshops in songwriting.

Over the years, a lot of poems, raps and songs were created and shared by the incarcerated men who participated in the workshops. Some of the writers asked Zoe to collaborate with them and Zoe found themself contributing a melodic hook to a rap or setting some words to music. One of the participants, Ken Blackburn, was already an accomplished songwriter and offered up to the group finished songs to sing. A body of work developed that was as diverse as the people who contributed to it. The songs — overflowing with pain and regret, longing, perseverance and hope — form a collective snapshot of the hidden face of America: the two million people living inside its prison systems.

Mass incarceration in the United States is a human rights abuse that, in a perfect world, would be addressed as such by an international court and dealt with accordingly. In this imagined scenario, America would abandon all policies which led us into this human rights crisis and concede to move immediately towards de-escalation and retroactive reform. We would admit that turning prison systems into for-profit industries was absolutely the wrong way to go. We would awaken to the reality that it is, in fact, unconscionable. 

Moving beyond policies which were designed to further entrench poverty, perpetuate racial inequality, and encourage mass incarceration is something we can do on our own, of course; we don’t actually need an international tribunal. We have already learned which are the harmful policies and we have imagined and designed alternatives. One powerful alternative to our current approach is the Restorative Justice model. Restorative Justice has been employed widely in places ranging from South Africa and Angola (in the aftermath of wide-scale violence) to the everyday criminal justice system of New Zealand. It is, to put it simply, a conversation between those who have been harmed (victims), those who have caused harm (perpetrators), and their communities, facilitated by a mediator. In the US, it is used in schools and even, occasionally, in a murder trial, but usually only when the designated victim asks for it and the court allows it.

Restorative Justice is powerfully healing because it fosters empathy and restores the broken connection that either caused, or allowed for, the violence to occur in the first place. It provides space for everyone’s voice and experience to be heard and felt. It allows those that have been harmed to be a part of deciding what the repercussions are. Restorative Justice, as a method, has actually been used for centuries. It is heavily influenced by ancient indigenous and aboriginal peacemaking practices from different parts of the globe. In a modern context, it reimagines the role of the state from that of administering punitive systems of incarceration and execution (perpetuating cycles of violence) to providing safety while facilitating restorative justice mediation, reparation, and amends (transforming cycles of violence).  

Imagine what we could manifest in society if we stopped funding violent institutions and policies and instead poured our resources and collective intelligence into fostering social relationships and finding alternatives to violence. What if the Restorative Justice System was one of the main functions of a greater Federal Department of Peace? Imagine an organization with the budget of the Pentagon designed to oversee domestic as well as international policy with the goal of achieving peace, safety and stability for all people. We could end the dissemination and proliferation of mass killing machines on our streets, for instance. Imagine if it was somebody’s job to figure out how.

 We may not be quite to the point of a feminist reinvention of our very institutions but, thankfully, there are steps being made towards reforming our justice system — steps which have finally begun backing down from the “tough on crime” policies initiated in the Nixon era and greatly propelled by the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. In December 2018, Cory Booker (a Democrat from New Jersey) led a bipartisan congressional team to pass the First Step Act which rang like a bell of hope across the country. Governors of various states have begun to volunteer to do the work of commuting unjust and extreme sentences. Minimum sentencing laws are being repealed. The so-called “drug war,” which incarcerated scores of non-violent drug offenders and yet somehow managed to overlook the opioid epidemic, is finally being called into question. Cell phone cameras are showing us how deeply racism is embedded into our society and how implicit bias plays out through us all. The excessive force of police departments is being scrutinized. 

Meanwhile, Zoe, having been touched by the men they met during their time at New Folsom and by the songs they created together, hatched the dream of transforming these songs into an album. To realize that dream, they enlisted the help of activist, producer and Righteous Babe Records founder Ani DiFranco. Six years after that saw the completion of the sprawling collaboration you now hold in your proverbial hands. Many singers, producers, artists and musicians were brought in along the way and together, we form a collective we call The Prison Music Project. Most of the contributing musicians were paid a minimal honorarium for their work and Zoe and Ani worked for free. 

The ten-year process of this record seemed to play out in slow motion, but it seems only fitting because many of the songwriters here are serving life-without-parole sentences. For them, there is nothing but endless gaping time. Daring to hope and daring to feel in such a context becomes a revolutionary act. Our intention, with this project, is to simply reflect the shared humanity of people on both sides of prison bars, and maybe even to reflect how hoping and feeling are revolutionary acts for any of us, in any context. In defiance of a dehumanizing mass incarceration system, The Prison Music Project facilitates the best of our shared humanity: collaboration, community, and good art. And, of course, we also support other organizations which are out there helping people whose lives have been impacted (and sometimes devastated) by incarceration. All the proceeds from this record support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated communities.

Spoon Jackson has been in prison for forty years. He was handed a life-without-parole sentence at the age of twenty and now he is sixty. Amazingly, while in prison, he published a memoir entitled By Heart (co-written with his first creative writing teacher, Judith Tannenbaum) and also produced a book of poetry called Longer Ago. He has done guest teaching by proxy with friends on the outside in academia and he is currently a contributor to the podcast Uncuffed. Spoon once wrote a poem called “Nowhere but Barstow and Prison,” which Ani adapted into song for this record. In the process, he and Ani became friends. He was aware of Ani’s work with the folksinger and storyteller Utah Phillips even before the two met over the phone. Spoon had long since evolved into a peaceful and connected person but, to this day, he has no legal mechanism for having his personal transformation recognized by the state. Without the governor of California personally commuting his sentence, thereby making him eligible for parole, Spoon has no path to freedom no matter what he does. Multiply Spoon’s story times a number that takes your breath away and you are approaching the reality of “justice” in America.

Recording devices were not allowed into the prison, so only a few of the songs on this record are performed by their authors: “Ain’t Trippin’,” “Breakthrough,” and the rap at the end of “Monster” were recorded over the phone. The rest of the songs, for the most part, have been reinterpreted by women. The voices and musicianship of women weave themselves through and around these incarcerated men’s stories, emphasizing the universality of a dream deferred and also highlighting, with each juxtaposition, our human capacity for empathy. Of the songs that feature performances by the writers themselves, only “Survivalist” was recorded in an actual recording studio, after its author, Alex Batriz was released.

We hope you enjoy this record and that the songs move you as they do us. We hope, as a society we can be moved swiftly to make America great — truly great — for all of us, for the first time. What does it mean for any of us to forgive each other? We believe it is a process which involves hard work. And where do we begin? We begin by listening. 

The Prison Music Project - February 2020
 
produced by Ani DiFranco and Zoe Boekbinder
recorded by Mike Napolitano
mixed by Tchad Blake
mastered by Brian Lucey
art direction by Matt Mahurin
 
1. Breakthrough by Abraham Banks and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Aranesa Turner, Abraham Banks
cello/beats: Paul Kang
 
2. Monster by Greg Gadlin and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Raye Zaragoza (“featuring” appears on), Zoe Boekbinder (main)
rap: Greg Gadlin
viola/background vocals: Free Feral
cello/background vocals: Leyla McCalla
bullet vocals: Ani DiFranco
synth: Zoe Boekbinder
drums: Kevin O’Donnell
 
3. Survivalist by Alex Batriz (Baby Shell Dogg) and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Alex Batriz, Christine Taplin
beats/synth: Philip Rabalais
more recording by: Benjamin Knapp
 
4. Broken Vessel by Jacob “Drifter” John Allen and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Mirah (“featuring" appears on)
guitar: Zoe Boekbinder
 
5. All Over Again by Ken Blackburn
vocals/guitar: Zoe Boekbinder (main artist)
violin: Dorota Szuta
cello: Danah Olivetree
backing vocals/wurlitzer/bells: Ani DiFranco
trombones: Mark Mullins
sousaphone: Matt Perine
drums: Kevin O’Donnell
 
6. Coffin Song by Ken Blackburn
vocals: Doc Gattis
guitar: Ken Blackburn
recorded by: Myles Boisen
 
7. i can’t breathe – Sincere and Baby Shell Dog
 
8. Ain’t Trippin’ by Samual Brown (LSDrugs)
vocals: Samual Brown, Zoe Boekbinder (main artist)
beats/synth/production: Carlos Stephens (ClosBeats)
 
9. window theater – Spoon Jackson
 
10. Midnight Deal by Jacob John Allen and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Zoe Boekbinder (main artist), Amanda Palmer (featuring)
backing vocals: Zoe Boekbinder, Amanda Palmer, Ani DiFranco
guitar/bass: Zoe Boekbinder
drums: Kevin O’Donnell
 
11. part of a family – Greg Gadlin
 
12. Nowhere but Barstow and Prison by Spoon Jackson and Ani DiFranco
vocals/guitar: Ani DiFranco (main)
 
13. Long Time Gone by Ken Blackburn and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Princess Shaw (featuring) and Zoe Boekbinder (main)
backing vocals: Zoe Boekbinder, Ani DiFranco, Princess Shaw
beats/synth: Krikor Andonian (Kr3ture)
piano/rhodes: Brian Coogan
production: Krikor Andonian, Ani DiFranco, Zoe Boekbinder
 
14. Just Another Link in the Chain by Ken Blackburn
vocals/guitar: Zoe Boekbinder (main)
backing vocals: Ani DiFranco
tuba: Matt Perine
trombone: Mark Mullins
wooden spoons/percussion: Kevin O’Donnell
 
15. Villain by Nathen Jackson and Zoe Boekbinder
vocals: Aranesa Turner
backing vocals: Ani DiFranco, Aranesa Turner
synth/guitar: Zoe Boekbinder
drums/percussion: Kevin O’Donnell


Breakthrough - by Abraham Banks

oh oh oh it’s not easy when the seed breaks through and takes root
‘cause you you you you’ll be there when the seed breaks through and takes root
when the seed breaks through and takes root

reminiscing on the days when I was younger
born and raised in the gutter
then I became a slave of the gutter
it’s kinda strange, I wonder
how I blamed my mother
for all the days I obtained stomach pangs from hunger
my father died when I was six so I was hangin’ with thugs
my older brother coppin’ bricks so I was slingin’ them drugs
I remember serving fiends crack and selling them crumbs
and as a kid hoppin’ peoples’ fences and stealin’ their plums
by the age of thirteen I was bustin’ them guns
snortin’ coke and smokin’ green
robbin’ suckers for funds
that’s the means of broken dreams growing up in the slums
you never know what the future hold or what you become
you see the truth is the fruit you bare and what you produce
but in this world it’s the mean to bare the burden of proof
my life if the story of the seed breaking through
but my hood be the soil where the seed’s taken root

oh oh oh it’s not easy when the seed breaks through and takes root
‘cause you you you you’ll be there when the seed breaks through and takes root
when the seed breaks through and takes root

it’s like every day, man, I’m searching for a new birth
to put to death the part of me that caused me to do dirt
I guess it's just the heart of me that want to see a new earth
to be the man I oughtta be I gotta come anew first
it’s like I’m stagnated, stuck in a time zone
a product of the ghetto, I grew up in a crime zone
with hustlers getting money, honey, gettin’ their grind on
smokers look bummy, smokin’ dope ‘til their mind’s gone
picture a lifestyle with death at its finest
impoverished environments that’s criminal minded
material requirements that keepin’ us blinded
prison is a slave trade to keep us reminded
crucial consignment, mental confinement
oppression and inequity that’s equally bonded
recession of economy increasing the violence
police committing genocide and keeping it silent

yes it’s revolution time
my brothers and sisters crying and dying
they lock us up with all this time
once we’re free then we’ll be fine
once we’re free then we’ll be fine
once we’re free then we’ll be fine 

oh oh oh it’s not easy when the seed breaks through and takes root
‘cause you you you you’ll be there when the seed breaks through and takes root
when the seed breaks through and takes root

 

Monster – by Greg Gadlin and Zoe Boekbinder

Daddy was a hustler
Mom got high my any means
Grams, she ran a cold machine
yeah this shit runs in my genes

my hustle started on the block grinding 
dropped out of school cause the money had the kid blinded
feeling no one can fade me, a gutter baby
all I wanted was to be just like me 

I am a monster
you can call me the glorious
seems I’m stuck here in this game
all I know is this street life and it’s a goddamn shame

please understand I really was never given a chance
I was pushed to the streets and forced to be a man
I had to show a side to those watching eyes
to prove my gangster would be upheld at all times

it is amazing how many of you hate me
really it don’t pierce me cause there are many more who praise me

gunplay from turf wars leaving the block a ghost town
never back down
I feel it in my reach
I’m about to get crowned

I’m a gutter baby forever and that won’t change
I was cut from a rare grade and I’m married to the game
I know there’s a better way but I search and cannot find
they say “do the right thing” and I done tried so many times

when I beat on my chest
that’s just me
out in this concrete jungle boy
I am a beast

‘cause I am a monster
you can call me the glorious
seems I’m stuck here in this game
all I know is this street life and it’s a goddamn shame
oh all I know is this street like and it’s a goddamn shame

I’m a monster
you can call me the glorious
yeah i’m a warrior
from the home of the warriors
feel the force
I’m a product that will never go soft
I’m a problem that will never be solved
when it’s funk
nigger, guess who they call
a bare face, a vision, nigger, pushing five stars
I’m raw
more doper than Ricky Ross
I’m a rare breed
I’m cut from a rare cloth
I’m not all hard
my nigger, I got smarts
if you sin against the kid
I’ll leave you with holy thoughts
I’m so cold, my nigger, I breathe frost
I’m the only thing that I’m afraid of
oh lord, I’m just a living lost soul
more evil than Jigsaw
from here where do I go
oh no
I already know the answer but I pray that I’m wrong
and please forgive me for askin’


Survivalist – by Alex Batriz and Zoe Boekbinder

survivalist
I feel like I was meant to go through this
would I be here without the fear?
I pushed through hella shit
I wonder what woulda happened if this didn’t occur
I wonder where would I be at without my hook and verse

asking me all the questions like I planned the situations that I’m facing
ain’t nothing artificial, never fakin’, keep your tissue
I pushed through all the issues that I been through
far as I could go back my venting was my sports and music
I pursued it
distract them racing thoughts
ran from cops
broke the laws
drugs and alcohol 
what I was called
take a sip, then reminiscing 
‘bout my fam cause I am missin’ all o’ y’all
been locked in prison and they took my visits

survivalist
I feel like I was meant to go through this
would I be here without the fear? 
I pushed through hella shit
I wonder what woulda happened if this didn’t occur
I wonder where would I be at without my hook and verse

where would I be if this did not occur?
where would I be without his hook and verse?

october 17, 1983
a young puppy was born, it musta been me
I was raised on the streets but I’ve never been free
I lost my mother and daddy, my whole family
what else was I expected to be, destined to see?
the penitentiary, I hope you feelin’ me
I never lost nothin’ cause I never had nothin’
I always wanted somethin’ but the government gonna take it
I wanted my mom but she was smokin’ that crack
can’t blame her for that
the government supplyin’ the sack
and then they want us locked up
it’s fucked up
how the church left us alone on the streets like stuck
how is it my fault that I became what I am
when I never had no mother and I never had no dad
that’s like blaming a child for not knowin’ how to read
when he’s never been to school and he’s never been teached

where would I be if this did not occur?
where would I be without his hook and verse?

they took your brother and sister away
placed you in a foster home with strangers and all you can do is pray
and at age 11 I was ready to die
put a rope around my neck
tried to commit suicide
I was traumatized
I ain’t afraid to admit it
I was conditioned to be mentally ill and criminal minded
memories stay rewindin’
searchin’ but never findin’

18 years of age when I hit the penitentiary
thought it was ok but it was affecting my family
reality, kickin’ in so mentally I —
had to get my shit together cause I can’t be here forever
never will I ever self destruct, ‘cause I know I’m better
I know I’ve been going through things but it’s gotta change
and I ain’t playing, most fall victim but I maintain
easily pushin’ through pleasure, gotta push through pain
hardest thing I ever had to deal with was the pride
‘cause where I’m from, if they’re disrespectful you ride
and where he’s from it’s the only way to survive
pushing and striving, my way to stay alive

survivalist
I feel like I was meant to go through this
would I be here without the fear?
I pushed through hella shit
I wonder what woulda happened if this didn’t occur
I wonder where would I be at without my hook and verse

where would I be if this did not occur?
where would I be without his hook and verse?


Broken Vessel – by Jacob “Drifter” Allen and Zoe Boekbinder

someone kicked his rock and out he came
a gun in his hand and a lion to tame
the sun was low in the east
while two ghosts watched him go
off he set to race the world

little did the ghosts know
he had stories to tell
he flew to the sky and he fell…
way down to hell

never had a hat to hang or a place called home
made no one happy but that let him roam
he got so high and fell so far
he burned his bridges and he chased his stars

little did the ghosts know
he had stories to tell
he flew to the sky and he fell…
way down to hell

found himself set aside anchored stuck and alone
a broken vessel ready to crawl back to his stone
he had loved and fought a long fight and asked for one kiss
and he said goodnight

little did the ghosts know
he had stories to tell
he flew to the sky and he fell…
way down to hell


All Over Again –  by Ken Blackburn

there’s a blue sky outside my window
and there’s never a trace of rain
you’ve been gone so long this time, little girl
I think I’m over you all over again
yes I think I’m over you all over again

I no longer think of the lovin’
you must be givin’ to some other man
I don’t even miss that sweet and tender kiss
yes I think I’m over you all over again

it’s true there are times when my heart stops
when I think I see your face in a crowd
aside from that I’m back to normal
hell I even stopped crying out loud

maybe someday you’ll get tired of leavin’
maybe someday I’ll be rid of the pain
‘til then I’ll just have to tell myself
I think I’m over you all over again
yes, I think I’m over you all over again


Coffin Song –  by Ken Blackburn

somebody get my coffin ready
make it deep, wide and long
somebody get my coffin ready
make it deep, wide and long
I tried to get it right but I think I got it wrong

I used to have a lovin’ someone
before life took her away
I used to have a lovin’ someone
before life took her away
she’s been gone seems like forever
but I think about her everyday

somebody get my coffin ready
make it wide, long and deep
somebody get my coffin ready
make it wide, long and deep
I’m tired and my body’s achin’
I’m looking forward to my sleep

I’ve been alone for years now
all my friends are dead and gone
I’ve been alone for years now
all my friends are dead and gone
sometimes I hear her laughter
her memory just keeps goin’ on

somebody get my coffin ready
make it long, deep and wide
somebody get my coffin ready
make it long, deep and wide
have ‘em write on my tombstone
he loved his woman, then he died


I Can’t Breathe - Bruce “Sincere” Dixon

government officials 
they playin’ games
look ‘em in they eyes
I know they lame
I can’t breathe
that’s what he said when he got put in a chokehold and died right there on his knees
we beggin’ please
we under siege
is we really safe up in our city streets?
urban societies
we all misfits 
tryna fit in
but they won’t let us in
we gone right there in the front of our own kin
now they really acting like they’re our best friends
can’t trust a wolf in sheep’s clothes
he showing his fangs too much
so I know for that reason he wanna kill me though
blood thirsty, babylon, wanna see me dead
bullet holes right off in my black small head
i’m third-eyed wide not third-eyed blind 
while i’m watching youngsters in the middle of the street as they die
i’m yellin’ freeze 
I can’t breathe
somebody get this babylon off me
they yellin’ freeze
shit, I can’t breathe
youngsters gettin’ squeezed in the middle of the street
they yellin’ freeze
I can’t breathe
they killin’ us every day in the middle of the street
I’m yellin’ freeze
I can’t breathe
freeze
I can’t breathe
Oscar Grant got murdered next to BART
hands behind his back
popo thinking he was smart 
fuckin’ mark
said he went for his taser gun but the forty cal bust his head off
right there on broad TV
and he still got out in a year, see
me, I shot a nigger three times, he didn’t die
but they gave me 25 to life
now show me where justice at
show me where justice at — shit
I’m starting to figure it’s just justice or it’s just us
they say justice is so blind
so I know it is when it comes to my kind



Ain’t Trippin - Samual “LSDrugs” Brown and Zoe Boekbinder

you can’t be too cool to see that in life and on these streets
you don’t hustle and you don’t eat
you don’t struggle, you don’t get free
how can it be cool to not be free
I just want for you what I want for me
and that’s for us to be
alright alright alright alright
you trippin’ if you ain’t trippin’ boy you slippin’
things will never be
alright alright alright alright
you trippin’ if you ain’t trippin’ boy you slippin’
things will never be
alright

your sisters on hop but you ain’t trippin’
unfairly harassed by cops but you ain’t trippin’
another unarmed brother shot but you ain’t trippin
it’s a trip that you ain’t trippin
trip dog, we trippin
your schools are underfunded but you ain’t trippin
bill collectors on your back but you ain’t trippin
instead of jobs they give you crack but you ain’t trippin
you don’t know what it means to be black
that’s why you ain’t trippin
but now trippin, I think you oughtta be
I’m trippin cause you’re a part of me that’s not moving accordingly
so regretfully I’m rewarded the responsibility to tell you 
get yourself together partner
only knife in a drawer full of spoons
of course you’re gonna think you’re the sharpest
but in a drawer full of ginsus
you’re a butter knife, a pocket knife 
baking soda to baby powder, simply just can’t rock it right
and i’m sorry bud, but i’m not the type that’ll pussyfoot or sugarcoat
cause soon you’re gonna be free
and talkin' about the letters you shoulda wrote
all the books you shoulda read
or all the things you shoulda did
instead of sitting in the penn and braggin' about the women you took to bed
silly the chick that fucks with you and I pity the kids that stuck with you

you treat her like she don’t exist
you treat them like they under you
act like life in wonderful
as long as you feel comfortable
but i hereby christen you Lolly Pop
for doing the things that suckers do
real niggas don’t fuck with you
its’ high time to come anew
get pissed when you hear this shit
but you need to take a number two
man you so full of ish
actin manish and bullyish
tryna conceal the real that you feel so powerless
but here lies your resurrection, your cekken 
lyrical obelisk, witness the power knowledge gets when understanding follows it
not exclusive to college kids from cottages with scholarships
establish your dominance, you too can become prominent
add a little confidence, you can accomplish any accomplishment
it takes Big Fundamentals and I’m tryna spur your ass like Popovich

you can’t be too cool to see that in life and on these streets
you don’t hustle and you don’t eat
you don’t struggle, you don’t get free
how can it be cool to not be free
I just want for you what I want for me
and that’s for us to be
alright alright alright alright
you trippin’ if you ain’t trippin’ boy you slippin’
things will never be
alright alright alright alright
you trippin’ if you ain’t trippin’ boy you slippin’
things will never be
alright

(go together) like unjust laws and civil unrest
put your hands up, put your piece up
march on the capitol and occupy them streets up
no more Jim Crow
split the belly of the beast up
til we feel free suh
we will not ease up, no
put your hands up, put your piece up
march on the capitol and occupy them streets up
no more Jim Crow
split the belly of the beast up


Window Theater - Spoon Jackson

I had my window theater, I called it, and when I was on my bunk looking out that little, skinny-ass window — and then seeing the coyotes — they had coyotes out there. They had deer sitting under the tree over there. They had squirrels that was over there on top of the boulder, I called it the squirrel tree. They would land on the razor wire, some of the doves would land on the razor wire and I wondered why they didn’t cut their feet off. 


Midnight Deal – by Jacob “Drifter” Allen and Zoe Boekbinder

I made a midnight deal
sold the one thing I did not steal
now I’m doomed to ride these tracks
no babe, I won’t be coming back

my heart breaks with the day
I would if I could but I cannot stay
them old trains call me away
so I’ve got to go before they find out I’ve left them alone, I’ve left them alone.

I made a midnight deal
sold the one thing I did not steal
now I’m doomed to ride these tracks
no babe, I won’t be coming back

there’s been a few dusty years
the crops are all dry and grey
I lay my head and weep
this East Texas oil field sings my girls down to sleep, sings my girls down to sleep

I made a midnight deal
sold the one thing I did not steal
now I’m doomed to ride these tracks
no babe, I won’t be coming back

I made a midnight deal
sold the one thing I did not steal
now I’m doomed to ride these tracks
no babe, I won’t be coming back


Part of a Family - Greg Gadlin

Basically, how I met those people and started hanging around them and started selling drugs was based on my living conditions and my surroundings. Like, that’s what I was surrounded by. Like, that’s how I grew up, so… shit, I didn’t have no stable place. My mom wasn’t stable. I was basically on my own. I basically joined — or wanted to be part of a gang — based on a lot of what I been through and a lot of what I was going through at the time. Like, wanting to feel the love and the acceptance of others. Something to belong to. Something to fit into. It’s just something that I’ve always longed for was to just be a part of a family.


Nowhere but Barstow and Prison - Spoon Jackson and Ani DiFranco

been down sidewinder valley
been down dead man’s alley
I slipped down b hill 
in the heart of town
been locked up so long 
my head spins around

because I been nowhere but barstow and prison
but that was my bad decision
nineteen years of steamin’
thirteen years of screamin’
I been nowhere but barstow and prison

in a ghost town near daggett
is a prison built by maggots
there’s no sweet dessert seas
there’s no sweet summer breeze
there’s just men like me

because I been nowhere but barstow and prison
but that was my bad decision
nineteen years of steamin’
thirteen years of screamin’
I been nowhere but barstow and prison

I miss soft, dry, river bottom sands 
I miss the back and forth sway
on my way to distant lands
but I’m so far from that now

because I been nowhere but barstow and prison
but that was my bad decision
nineteen years of steamin’
thirteen years of screamin’
I been nowhere but barstow and prison


Long Time Gone – by Ken Blackburn and Zoe Boekbinder

tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
yes I’m tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone

guess you think it’s funny
making me feel so low
but remember the Good Book says
you gotta reap what you sow

you been braggin’ to your friends
‘bout treatin’ me this way
remember darlin’
every dog has his day

tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
yes I’m tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone

takin’ all my money
to you it’s just a game
got everybody talkin’
how it’s a dirty shame

I’m tired of your jivin’
the way you carry on
when I get to leavin’
be a long time gone

tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
yes I’m tired of all your cheatin’ and the way you been carryin’ on
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone
when I get around to leavin’ gonna be a long time gone


Just Another Link In The Chain – song by Ken Blackburn and Zoe Boekbinder

just another link in the chain
another link in the chain
I’d like to be something special, but
I’m just a link in the chain
another link in the chain

my fathers had fathers before them
my line goes clear back to Cain
there were good men and bad men among them
each just a link in the chain

red-necked farmers and statesmen
others who sought only gain
there were artists and poets and conmen
each just a link in the chain

just another link in the chain
another link in the chain
I’d like to be something special, but
I’m just a link in the chain
another link in the chain

my mothers had mothers before them
some were crazy, most were sane
all daughters of Eve, they rejoiced and grieved
each just a link in the chain

pure-hearted maidens and hookers
martyrs who smiled through the pain
there were givers and takers and blue-eyed heart breakers
each just a link in the chain

just another link in the chain
another link in the chain
I’d like to be something special, but
I’m just a link in the chain
another link in the chain

just another link in the chain
another link in the chain
I’d like to be something special, but
I’m just a link in the chain
another link in the chain


Villain – by Nathen “Nuruddin” Jackson-Brown and Zoe Boekbinder

you love to call me a villain
you’re makin a killin’, a killin’

even you remain, tales locked inside
intricate puzzles, tales of lost lives

you trap us in, green grass looks good
sweating bodies running barefoot

wild men you can keep, most of us will never leave
but you can’t keep out the heat
there’s more than one kind of release

you love to call me a villain
you’re makin a killin’, a killin’

cool and constant, you put up a solid fight
I press my body against you to escape the heat of the night

still and silent against my vicious blows
I remain grateful in your shadow

though you are a comfort, I’d love to watch you fall
gamblers are still betting and you’re still a concrete wall

you love to call me a villain
you’re makin a killin’, a killin’

you love to call me a villain
you’re makin a killin’, a killin’