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Composer shames Congress with gun law song

William Bolcom has channelled the frustration felt by many Americans when their legislature bowed to the gun lobby and refused to stop the daily carnage of innocent citizens. His song harks back to the good old days when protest was a driving force in American music.


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  1. Bob Burns says:

    The guy is not only a first rate composer and pianist, he’s “a mensch” in every respect.

    Bravo, Mr Balcom.

  2. Michael P Scott says:

    Oh, Thanks Norman and merci mille et une fois to Mr. Bolcom.

    Now, Norman, your next challenge is to get this into the hands of Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Buffy St. Marie, Glen Yarborough, and all the old “folkies.”

    Pete’s got at least one more charge left in him, if even only to urge us on!!


  3. Yes, Mr. Bolcom
    I am ashamed. To succumb to the NRA.
    I am ashamed.

    Thanks for the song.

  4. Way to go, Bill. We are ashamed of Congress here in America. And of “Second Amendmenters” hiding their “views” behind a misreading of the Constitution. But we are proud of YOU, Bill. Thanks.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      I like the scare quotes around “views.” After all, nothing says Great National Conversation better than declaring the opinions of your opponents illegitimate right from the get-go.

  5. Ah, reminds me of the wonderful and necessary Tom Lehrer, Maybe they could perform this for four hands? Bring it on, Bill! Thanks!

  6. JBBaldwin says:

    I am ashamed of our Congress and would like to see the lot of them out of a job.

    Bolcom’s wrong, too, though, and a hippie-throwback protest song doesn’t do his side any favors.

    To what “daily carnage of innocent citizens” do you refer? What hyperbole! I have yet to shoot anyone. How does keeping me from legally purchasing a firearm help stem any of this phantom carnage?

    • how does the bill ‘keep you from legally purchasing a firearm’? was it not about having more extensive back round checks on those who wish to legally purchase firearm? Especially from the internet and gun shows, anyone can buy a firearm on the net or at a show, including terrorists. Just because you do not plan to shoot anyone, does not mean others do not shoot innocent people, happens all the time!!! ( unless the current gun violence and mass shootings is not quite frequent enough for you to be concerned)

      Bolcom is not wrong. He is telling the truth. and the ‘hippie -throwback protest song’ is brilliant.

    • Oops- you missed it.
      Carnaage is carnage quality not quantity- like arsenic in water, it’s not quantity but quality.
      Submit to a background check? What’s wrong with that?
      In a civil society where your “freedom” is always counter-balanced by mine, we both agree to a commonwealth in principle and action. Failing that, there is no viable society nor the law we all tout; it’s anarchy at best, barbarism at the worst.

    • I too wondered what this “daily carnage of innocent citizens” was about.
      So I googled some data. From Bloomberg – more than 30,000 gun-related deaths each year, for nearly every year since 1979.
      Every day about 85 deaths from gun shots, about 2/3 of them suicides, the rest homicides or accidents. Around 16 people between the age of 15 and 24 each day, mostly homicides, and on average, at least 1 child under 14 shot dead each day.
      And every day more than 200 people in Emergency Units of hospitals with gunshot wounds.

      The data may be dodgy, misleading, simplified etc…. but what a lot of violent deaths !
      Does this say more about the mentality of the people who want to own guns as an expression of freedom, or the state of society that people feel they have to own guns to protect themselves from the other people who own guns, or the level of crime.

      According to Wikipedia, who ranks Deaths per 100,000 population, by country ( )
      US at 10+ per 100,000 per year rubs shoulders with Panama, Mexico and Colombia.
      US is around 4 times the rate in Canada, 5 times Israel, 10 times Ireland and 40 times UK.
      And 140 times more than Japan.

      Good on you Bill.

    • LarissaS says:

      Our pro-gun culture and insistance on making it easy for anyone to buy guns and ammunition is the reason there are so many guns, and therefore daily gun deaths and “carnage”. The same loose restrictions that allow you to have your gun allow so many weapons to fall into the wrong hands. Our huge demand for guns also will largely increase the number of guns available illegally. Your selfish need to feel protected on the off chance it will actually be helpful for you to get out your gun and to shoot another human means that more innocent people out there will continue to die when guns are used for murder. Think of people other than yourself.

      I love the song – thank you to an excellent composer for stepping up in this fight!

    • You may not have shot anyone. That does NOT mean:
      1) You won’t go crazy tomorrow and shoot someone
      2). You won’t be human tomorrow and leave your gun in a place where a child gets it and shoots someone
      3). You don’t have your gun adequately secured, a thief steals it, and shoots someone

      Only way I don’t want to ban ALL guns is if someone violating #2 or #3 above serves a jail sentence of at least one year minimum. If people must have guns, we need to hold them responsible for securing them.

  7. Linda Roberson says:

    Bravo and many thanks to Mr. Bolcom!

  8. I am still mulling over the idea that this Congress can be “shamed.”

  9. Thanks, I can’t wait to listen to this. Bravo Mr Bolcom. You can add another frustrated citizen to the list!

  10. Tell it like it is, Bill, tell it like it is!

  11. gerald brennan says:

    The Senate did its job.
    Those who voted against knew well that they would be selling pencils after the next election if they did otherwise. The system worked.
    Let’s hear some songs about THAT.

  12. If it’s sung a million times and daily everywhere, hummed on the street, in the cashier line, by innocent children on the playground, as well as rallies, and posted on social media. Yeah- there will be an impact. Let’s get on with it.

  13. Could Mr. Bolcum post a copy so that it’s disseminated widely! text and music.

  14. “…channelled the frustration felt by many Americans”

    Why not give equal time to the other 2/3 of “many Americans” and hear the words of another gifted (at least equal if not greater) musician?

    • Because they already have too many platforms of their own without having to usurp this one as well. Furthermore, the moment Ted Nugent comes up with a work anywhere near the stature of William Bolcom’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” will be the moment that I, for one, will even remotely entertain the notion of mentioning both names in the same breath! Until then………………

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