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songs about disabilities

DigiTrad:
NINE GOLD MEDALS
WALKIN ON MY WHEELS
YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT TO LOOK AT ME


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GUEST,ies.leliadoura@xunta.es 26 Feb 03 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,Elfcall 26 Feb 03 - 01:56 PM
sharyn 26 Feb 03 - 02:09 PM
black walnut 26 Feb 03 - 02:10 PM
wilco 26 Feb 03 - 02:11 PM
Leadfingers 26 Feb 03 - 02:21 PM
Doug Chadwick 26 Feb 03 - 02:41 PM
sharyn 26 Feb 03 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Zany Mouse 26 Feb 03 - 05:16 PM
Herga Kitty 26 Feb 03 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Claymore 26 Feb 03 - 05:56 PM
Uncle_DaveO 26 Feb 03 - 05:56 PM
SINSULL 26 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM
SINSULL 26 Feb 03 - 06:52 PM
Mark Cohen 27 Feb 03 - 12:04 AM
GUEST 27 Feb 03 - 12:14 AM
GUEST 27 Feb 03 - 12:18 AM
Callie 27 Feb 03 - 12:28 AM
Sooz 27 Feb 03 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,Piers 27 Feb 03 - 11:05 AM
Pooby 27 Feb 03 - 11:19 AM
CapriUni 27 Feb 03 - 11:28 AM
GUEST 27 Feb 03 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,Tiger 27 Feb 03 - 02:40 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 27 Feb 03 - 04:41 PM
SINSULL 27 Feb 03 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Tiger 27 Feb 03 - 05:23 PM
open mike 27 Feb 03 - 05:29 PM
Zany Mouse 27 Feb 03 - 07:10 PM
Abby Sale 27 Feb 03 - 09:57 PM
sharyn 28 Feb 03 - 01:09 AM
CapriUni 28 Feb 03 - 12:26 PM
catspaw49 28 Feb 03 - 01:37 PM
Barry Finn 28 Feb 03 - 10:11 PM
catspaw49 28 Feb 03 - 10:18 PM
Barry Finn 28 Feb 03 - 11:04 PM
Barry Finn 28 Feb 03 - 11:18 PM
Mark Cohen 28 Feb 03 - 11:44 PM
cujimmy 01 Mar 03 - 07:59 AM
black walnut 01 Mar 03 - 11:38 AM
SINSULL 01 Mar 03 - 04:32 PM
Abby Sale 01 Mar 03 - 06:22 PM
CapriUni 01 Mar 03 - 10:44 PM
Bobert 01 Mar 03 - 10:52 PM
winterchild 02 Mar 03 - 06:18 AM
Callie 02 Mar 03 - 06:37 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 02 Mar 03 - 07:32 AM
CapriUni 03 Mar 03 - 12:53 PM
AggieD 03 Mar 03 - 01:46 PM
Abby Sale 03 Mar 03 - 05:06 PM
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Subject: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,ies.leliadoura@xunta.es
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 01:48 PM

A group of teachers is working on a project about songs with a message. We are trying to find lyrics in English about disabilites. Can you think of any title or webpage where we can find something so specific?


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Elfcall
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 01:56 PM

The best i can think of is 'I can Jump Puddles' by Huw and Tony Williams


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: sharyn
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:09 PM

As a disabled person I need to say that I find songs written about people with disabilities (usually by people without them) to be condescending and offensive. These people don't have the experience (which varies widely even in the same diagnosed disability).

If you keep looking you are bound to run into some of these songs. Two I have run into are "Walking on my Wheels" and "I'm a Little Cookie." I find both of these songs offensive. A better idea, to my mind, is to feature the songs or paintings or writings of disabled artists without looking for songs about the issue. We are whole people with whole art and lots to say on a variety of subjects.

By the way, I have cerebral palsy. I have friends with disabilities ranging from MS to autism and I work in an inclusion recreation program for able-bodied and disabled children.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: black walnut
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:10 PM

Jane Field (from Toronto, Canada) did a tape of songs in 1994. It's called The Fishing is Free. I'll see if I can round up any information on how to get hold of it.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: wilco
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:11 PM

Can't help with websites.But, i do a lot of work with the mentally ill, many of whom become homeless. I sing "Tramp on the Street" at many public functions, to raise awareness. I add an extra verse:

Your brothers and sisters, your fathers and mothers,
your sons and your daughters, your sisters and brothers.
The beggars, the drunks, the whores of the street.
Living and dying among us, just tramps on the street.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:21 PM

The Dubliners recorded a song 'Scorn Not His Simplicity'on the vinyl
album Revolution. Dont know if its still available, but the song deals
with mental handicaps.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SHORTNESS OF SIGHT (Hughie Jones)
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 02:41 PM

SHORTNESS OF SIGHT
(Hughie Jones)

CHORUS
Oh pity, oh pity, oh pity my plight
And all those who suffer from shortness of sight

On a stage or a platform I never am frightened
No matter how much the audience is lightened
I just stand there and go into attack
I can never see more than seven rows back

CHORUS

At sport I am no go and never will be
I couldn't play football so they made me referee
I saw all the fouls and the sly offside passes
'Til a big centre-forward came smashed in my glasses

CHORUS

Last week I noticed more than most
I'd written a letter that I wanted to post
When I got to the box and I looked at it close
T'was a little fat lady in a straight cut red coat

CHORUS

Whistling at girls I did in my leisure
But now I must find alternative pleasure
I whistled a bird, she had hair long and yella
But it cost me a thumping 'cos he was a fella

CHORUS

The ring road round town with its sodium lights
When viewed from a distance is a wonderful sight
Lots of tall lamp-posts in neat little rows
They look like chrysanthemums growing on poles

CHORUS x 2


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: sharyn
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 04:24 PM

I thought I would add that the best book I have read on disabilities -- and I have read a lot of Crip Lit -- is Missing Pieces by Irving Kenneth Zola.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Zany Mouse
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 05:16 PM

The fantastically talented Graham Knights (who uses a wheelchair) sings a song called "Don't Disable Me".

It is written by Janet Wood and is on Graham's CD "Echo From Afar"

On his CD he says:

"I heard Janet sing this song and immediately thought that's for me. It says a lot about life and has become somewhat of an anthem for me."

A powerful song indeed.

ZM


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 05:45 PM

I was going to post a message about "Don't disable me" but ZM got there first. It's about being a person, not a broken down machine, or pitied or labelled.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 05:56 PM

Actually the very best song I've ever heard about disabilities is Steve Warners, "Doin' the Best They Can" about two people with disabilities (one mental, one physical) falling in love, getting married, and having children. Don't have the words handy, but I will try and locate...


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 05:56 PM

Peggy Seeger, I know, did (probably still does) a wonderful song about being out jogging, and ran into a woman in a wheelchair. She used the term "disabled", and the woman challenged her to a race. The woman won.

They go to a restaurant, but have to enter by the freight elevator because there's no wheelchair access. The waiter takes the singer's order, "And what will she have?"   "What will WHO have?" "Her (pointing to the new wheelchair-seated friend.)" "Why don't you ask her? She had a disease when she was a child, but she's not stupid!" He does, and she orders.

The manager comes around and asks if everything is all right. The lady in the wheelchair complains about no wheelchair access. "Oh, that's all right. We don't get many handicapped here anyway."

Somehow the wheelchair lady relates having taken part in a demonstration for handicapped access, and she, along with most others there, was arrested. But they had to send her home, didn't hold her in jail. Seems there was no wheelchair access to the jail, either!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: SINSULL
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM

Barry Finn has written a song about autism. Sorry, I don't know the name but I believe the lyrics are somewhere on Mudcat. Can anyone help?


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: SINSULL
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 06:52 PM

DOH! It's in the "Songs About Disability" thread listed above.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 12:04 AM

Uncle Dave, the song you're referring to is called "Talking Wheelchair Blues" and it's by Fred Small. It was on his album "The Heart of the Appaloosa".

Sharyn, I didn't know you found "Walking On My Wheels" offensive. That's the first such reaction I've heard. Not that that invalidates your reaction, of course, and I respect it. I'd be interested to know more about your feelings. (And we can still be friends--I hope!)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 12:14 AM

Check out Candy Man - in the Rugby Song Thread - lots of diabilities there.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 12:18 AM

eric bogle has a few songs about rosie...who is the daughter of a friend of his....


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Callie
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 12:28 AM

What about that Si Kahn song - i don't remember the title but the chorus starts "it isn't what you're born with but what you do with what you've got".


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Sooz
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 10:53 AM

Everyone, ablebodied or not should hear Graeme Knights sing "Don't disable me" (Although at his full volume a good place might be a bunker in the next town!) Here is the chorus:

Don't disable me pity or label me
For I'm a person not a broken down machine
Not a mass of moving parts
But a soul with a feeling heart
So don't disable me


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Piers
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:05 AM

Here's the song Leadfingers mentions:
scorn not his simplicity


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Pooby
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:19 AM

The only one that comes right away to mind is "The Last Great Waltz," recorded by the Smothers Brothers and written (I think) by Shel Silverstein. For those unfamiliar, it's the story of a perfectionist dancer who finds true love and an ideal dance partner when he meets a woman with three legs. Lyrics can be posted if desired.

One-two-three, one-two... One-two-three, one-two...

Pooby


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:28 AM

What about that Si Kahn song - i don't remember the title but the chorus starts "it isn't what you're born with but what you do with what you've got".

That gets sung a lot... And although, as a person with cerebral palsy, I like the message that handicapped* people have more abilities than disabilities, I resent the implication that we are inherently a saintly bunch because of our physical and/or mental conditions.
It's a message that's implied for most of the song, and stated directly in the last verse:

between those who use their neighbours
and those who use the cane
between those in constant power
and those in constant pain
between those who run to glory
and those who cannot run
tell me which ones are the cripples
and which ones touch the sun?


I know for a fact that using a wheelchair does not impair your ability to be a power-hungry, money-grubbing S.O.B., if that's your choice, it only makes it harder to get up a flight of stairs. I've yet to see a pedestal that was at all accessible ;-)


Actually, I think the best song about "The issue of disability" wasn't written for that purpose at all -- the 'novelty' song: You can't rollerskate in a buffalo herd (but you can be happy if you've a mind to) by country-western singer Roger Miller, the lyrics to which can be found here.

*Although the word "handicapped" is considered politically incorrect today, because it sounds like it's about begging (cap in hand), and because of its association with government agencies of past generations, I much prefer it to "disabled". The word actually comes from a 14th (iirc) century bartering/gambling game, with the implication of having to pay a higher price (in time, effort, frustration, etc.) to achieve the same goals as everyone else, but that we are strong enough to do so. "Disabled" simply means "not able" or "broken". And that just aint so!


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:34 AM

Rosie


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Tiger
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 02:40 PM

Billy Murray did "K-K-K-Katy" in 1918.

Before that, he did "The Boy Who Stuttered and the Girl Who Lisped" with Ada Jones in 1909.

"The Dutchman" is a touching treatment of dementia.

"Take Her Out of Pity"

"Anne Boleyn"

And, course, "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" :)


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 04:41 PM

Years ago folksinger Terry Kelly was performing in the St. Peters area of Cape Breton. At the time I was a microwave radio technician with the telephone company and spent a lot of my time maintaining 2 transmitter sites in the area. While Terry had no sight, he was into marathon running and he used to train on these back roads along with a sighted runner at his side. When I would see them go by I often thought that there was no way that I would be able to keep up to them.
It set me to wondering "what is a disability?" It was obvious that Terry did not feel that he had one.
Since then Terry has become more famous and I don't know if he still runs, but when I see him on T.V. I sure don't see any invalid. I guess it is in the way one plays the hand that life has dealt.
                      Sandy


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: SINSULL
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 05:07 PM

Take Her Out Of Pity"???? The one I know is about an old maid aching for a husnand.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: GUEST,Tiger
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 05:23 PM

Likely the same one, Sinsull.

"I had a sister Sally, she was ugly and misshapen,
By the time she was sixteen years old she was taken.....etc."

...But Sarah's almost twenty-nine,
And never had an offer."


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: open mike
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 05:29 PM

i remember when fred small played the "wheelchair" song
when he performed near here. I was sitting next to a
friend with M.S. and we both held hands and were in tears.
She was in a chair. it was a very moving song.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 07:10 PM

I would agree with Tiger that The Dutchman is a very touching song. Well worth singing. Run Of The Mill do an excellent version of it.

It can be found in Digitrad.

ZM


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Abby Sale
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 09:57 PM

Now terms to use can get interesting. Some years back, down the block from out house in Duns, in the Scottish borders (a block in Scotland is often 50 or 60 miles around) comming up the hill, just before & around the bend of some unknown & unnamed institution there was my all-time favorite street sign, Caution - Cripples Crossing. Seemed ok to me - you sure knew just what to be cautious of.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: sharyn
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 01:09 AM

Abby, when I was a child, calling me "a cripple" was about the cruelest thing anyone could say -- on a par with "retard." A lot of physically dsisabled people now use the term "crip" in the same way that gay people sometimes use "faggot" -- to reclaim the term as an in-group word. I mentioned "Crip Lit" in one of my earlier posts, for example. But I don't think I'd like seeing that sign in a serious context.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:26 PM

From Sharyn: As a disabled person I need to say that I find songs written about people with disabilities (usually by people without them) to be condescending and offensive. These people don't have the experience (which varies widely even in the same diagnosed disability).

(I know I'm responding relatively late to this, but my ideas neaded to swim around in my brain for a while before they came to the surface)

If the project the teachers were working on was about disabities, I'd agree with you.... but, AIUI, it's a project about songs with a social agenda.

However, your comments bring up an interesting point: Song is such a powerful medium for getting a message across -- and spread to a wider audience (people are more likely to sing a new song they learned at a rally than to pass on a pamphlet, or make a trip to an art gallery).

So why isn't song used more often as a medium of expressison in the Disability Culture movement? I don't have an answer to this... I'm just curious...

And if writing our own songs is something we should be doing, then I myself have backed away from that goal. The song I posted here: A New Song From CapriUni, started out as an idea for a song about my experience as a disabled person (inspired by a line I spoke in a dream, in response to someone calling me 'Peter Pan': "That's right! I can't walk, but I can fly!"). But almost as soon as I started putting my idea into words, it morphed into something else. Yes, Peter Pan's flight is an expression of individuality and strength of spirit, but Peter is also a perpetual child -- which is a perception of the disabled that I don't want to encourage or suggest to an audience...

And that prompted the questions: Why is expression of individuality, strength of spirit, and personal empowerment (what magic is, metaphorically) so often limited to the realm of childhood? Why is it so blissfully taken for granted that Jackie Paper must leave Puff behind, or that Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are each no longer welcome in Narnia when they reach a certain age? Could there be a fear that imaginary empowerment might become real empowerment when the children reach adulthood?

So that's what the song ended up being about, instead of my personal experience with CP. Maybe I will write a song about the latter -- someday. But not yet.

Although, in my own mind, there is a connection to a silent unspoken question: is one reason why so many comedians make jokes about handicapped parking spaces -- and other visible consequences of ADA -- because they make the empowerment of the disabled visible, and that empowerment is equally frightening?


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Subject: Lyr Add: YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT TO LOOK AT ME
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 01:37 PM

As the parent of wonderful young autistic son, Barry Finn's song that Sinsull mentioned is wonderful. It's both in the other thread and in the DT, but if you haven't looked, I'll post it here. Barry is a Dad and knows from where he speaks.........

YOU WOULDN'T KNOW IT TO LOOK AT ME
(Barry Finn)

"You're not listening to me. Are you deaf in both ears?
Don't you see what you've caused? Have you been blind all these years?
Could you just give an answer, so I know you're not dumb?
For Christ's sake, you bird brain, has a cat got your tongue?"

Cho: I'm as cute as any other kid. I can run, jump and shout.
You wouldn't know it to look at me. At times, I can't work things out.
I'm not stupid. I'm not lazy. I try very hard.
With a little compassion, I could go pretty far.

Well, school is a torture. The teasing won't quit.
My thoughts go off track and my aide has a fit.
There are some things I excel in, so much that I'm bored.
You wouldn't know it to look at me. It takes all that I'm worth.

The kids scorn and laugh at me. I don't have a friend.
You can feel my heart break. I wonder when this will end.
The mistreatment and abuse I take, it's really a crime,
But I'm told to ignore it, though it happens all of the time.

I know it's hard on my family. I can't change a thing.
The aunts and uncles blame it on my folks and say it's poor upbringing.
The love and affection others get all the time,
I only hear people yell at me, when I ask, "Where is mine?"

I never feel comfort, no shoulder, no hug.
A system to support me was pulled out like a rug.
If you can't understand this, you may be worse off than me,
But I won't hold it against you, 'cause you're deaf and can't see.

I may be mildly autistic or just plain O. C. D.
I may twitch with Tourette's, or have A. D. D.
If you see me cross my eyes, instead of my T's,
You wouldn't know it to look at me that I have special needs.

Words, (c) Barry Finn, 1998.
Tune, traditional Australian, "One Of The Has Beens."


Spaw


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 10:11 PM

Hi Kat & thanks for the kind post.

Just a correction (not splitting hairs here). I'm the ADHD dad to a Touretter whose also Bi-Polar. You're dead on about him being a wonderful kid though.

Barry


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 10:18 PM

Actually Barry, I worded that wrongly, if you're referring to my post.....I am the father of an autistic son. I should have been more detailed about your own situation instead of mine. Bottom line is though, they're both great kids and it's WONDERFUL song!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 11:04 PM

Heh Heh, I can mix up & turn inside out any phrase or sentence ever written, unless I go over it a few times. Again thanks for the compliment on the song. Barry


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 11:18 PM

Sorry that should've been "cat". See, isn't that a great example without trying. Barry


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 11:44 PM

I thought people would be interested in the PM discussion Sharyn and I have been having, based on her comment about my song, Walkin' On My Wheels. For the record, we've known one another since about 1983 or so, though we haven't been in touch in around 15 years, until bumping into each other again here on the 'Cat. (As you'll see if you read through, she gave me permission to post her messages.)


Hi Mark,

I've been offended by this song since the very first time I heard it. First, deconstruct the chorus:

"Walking on my wheels" : using a wheelchair is not walking and people who use them know the difference. Some people
who use wheelchairs can walk and would never refer to one activity as the other, even mataphorically.

"People let me tell you just how good it feels." Get real. It doesn't
feel good to use a wheelchair -- it's tiring and people get sore from remaining in the same positions if they can't shift
themselves and even if they can. And using a wheelchair is still stigmatizing, even if it helps someone gain mobility

"I can go anywhere if I've got my chair." Oh really. Except in hallways, unreconstructed restrooms, staircases, dance floors,
etc.

"Watch me now, I'm walking..." Many disabled persons do not wish to call attention to their disability, since we get plenty of
attention for that and often not much for other aspects of our lives.

You get my drift, I'm sure.I'm sure you meant well, but I would never sing the song or want any of the disabled kids I work
with to hear it: they are regular kids and like regular kid stuff. It's much more valuable to them to see disabled persons
functioning in jobs, making art, singing thmselves than to hear yet another temporarily-able-bodied person's imaginary take
on disability. Have you ever heard of "Stick to the things you know?" as a writing guideline?

I'm probably sounding a bit more pugnacious than I am (email is a deceptive medium) and as far as I am concerned we are
as much friends as we ever were. This is a bit of a hot issue for me. And I highly recommend Zola's book

Thanks for writing

Sharyn


Sharyn--

Thanks for responding. I do understand your points, and I admit I hadn't thought of the song in that way.

On the other hand, there may another way to look at it, which is the way it was intended. (I'm sure you recognize this, but I'll spell it out anyway.) The "purpose" of the song, as much as a piece of music can have a purpose, is to help people who come in contact with a child in a wheelchair to see a child, who happens to use a wheelchair to get around, rather than a piece of furniture that includes something that looks like a human being but somehow isn't. That's why there's the verse that says, "Can you come over...we can use the computer or just tell jokes." (That verse also brings up the issue of accessibility.) I felt that the first step was to get people past the stage of the substitute teacher, who "thought I couldn't think just because I couldn't walk."

I know that using a wheelchair isn't "really" walking, and I don't expect anybody else to think it's really walking. But I remember growing up as a child seeing wheelchairs (and, by extension, the people who used them) as frightening and even threatening, and I know that's a very common reaction. So the message, "This is just how I get around because my legs don't work" is, I think, an important one for children (and adults) to hear. And, frankly, "Locomoting on my Wheels" doesn't scan nearly as well.

I don't mean to be flip, and I do understand your concerns. To a large extent, I agree with them. Nevertheless, the decision to write the song as I did was essentially an "artistic" one, trying to balance the various messages with the desire to come up with a song that people would enjoy hearing and singing. I guess what I'd like to know--and it's a poor reflection on me, I know, that I've never tried to find out--is how kids who use wheelchairs feel about the song. Do you know?

If you've noticed the thread on the song about the suicide prevention hotline, you'll see that I'm taking what is in some way a similar position to yours. That is, "I know people like the song, but I wish you wouldn't sing it because it offends me." Oh, well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. (And we won't even start on THAT song...!)

Best,
Mark (still mostly TAB, but aging enough to be grateful every day…)

PS What would you think about posting these messages on the thread? There might be a lot for people to think about...especially in your message.


Thanks for writing back, Mark.

I guess that I don't think trying to provide something to fill a gap is a good enough reason to speak for a group of
marginalized people who get misrepresented and spoken for a lot -- e.g. the story on the disability songs thread where
someone asks "What will s/he have?"

I do work with a group of kids with various disabilities, including some in wheelchairs, and I haven't sung your song to them,
anticipating from them the same kinds of objections I have to it (some of them are pretty sophisticated).

I agree, you did address the issue of accessibility in one verse -- and I noticed this -- but I think the repeated line "I can go
anywhere if I've got my chair" undercuts it. I assume that you were trying to make a really positive statement. This is part of
the problem. In my experience, the kids who get really excited about wheelchairs are able-bodied kids who want to play in
them (we sometimes do wheelchair races or obstacle courses at work): for them, chairs are a novelty and they know they
can get up later and go play football.

The verse I like best of your song is the one about wheelchair basketball: I worked for a couple years with a ten-year-old
girl with CP and she was really happy the day we figured out a system for including her in softball games. I pitched (and had
a pinch runner since I had an ankle injury that wouldn't let me run) and she batted and threw and had someone to catch for
her and someone to push her around the bases. She loved it and for awhile we played everyday.

I sent you a private message so as not to vet your song in public. I had already registered a few public comments on the
subject. Please feel free to make any of this public that you wish if you think it will be useful.

An aside: when I wrote my own song "Wallflower Waltz" about a love affair I was trying to resuscitate someone wrote a
review of the recording and mistook the song for a disability epic. Other people have insisted that it was literally about
dancing and changed words to make it fit. So I do know that what you or I write and what others see in it is not the same
thing at all.

If you are interested, you might consider helping some disabled kids write their own songs about their lives and see what you
get: we'd both learn from that I am sure.

Cheers!

Sharyn


Lots to think about here.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: cujimmy
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 07:59 AM

There is a lovely song by Fred Small called "Leslie is different", at

http://lyrics.mp3s.ru/perl/lyric.pl?hy1qewTwvCmQU&36047

about a little boy who learns to play piano despite many dissabilities - check it out. Fred Small has also written other songs about dissabilities and they are well worth purchasing.

http://lyrics.mp3s.ru/perl/ lyric.pl?hy1qewTwvCmQU&36047

Hope thi link works - first time I've done one - regards jimmy.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: black walnut
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 11:38 AM

I talked to Jane Field last night (see my mention of her way up near the top of this thread). She says that she still has some of those tapes of hers available. Jane is a singer-songwriter who has been a quadriplegic for several years. She has a way of getting to the issues in an often very humorous way. She doesn't believe in barriers....she's even bungy-jumped in her wheel-chair. If you are interested, 'Guest Teachers', or if anyone else is interested, you could order a tape from her via me.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: SINSULL
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 04:32 PM

Just came across "Ramblin' Hunchback" by Patrick Sky. Not for the faint of heart. Irreverant.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 06:22 PM

I've thought about this thread for some time now. I think I know how I feel about the issue now. I'm agin' it.

I'm against feel good songs about disabilities. Disabilities don't feel good.

I'm against euphamisms in any context. I'm not Challenged or Other Abled or any of those things. Maybe I'm handicapped. I have less then the usual number of skills & muscles the average person has. I'm certainly crippled.   On the other hand anyone demeaning me on that account might wind up with a baseball bat shapped dent in his/her skull.

I don't want disabled kids conned into thinking "they're just as good as anyone else."   I can tell you a monobrachius will rarely become a good basketball player or speed typist. That's it. No matter how good s/he feels or is encouraged or loved it won't happen. A paraplegic will always be an out and out dud at track and mountain climbing. I'm just not as good as most people when it comes to brachialness. I'm a damn sight better than most in a bunch of other ways. So what?

Take what you have and learn to live with it! Don't feel good about it, feel BAD. Then get on with life and hope to get trained to do work in which the particular problem is irrelevant. A paraplegic can be a lawyer, a blind person a translator, etc.

No one has ever actually called me a cripple. I doubt anyone would dare today. (Actually, my disability hardly shows so most don't even notice.) I don't know how I'd have taken it as a child...I hope I'd have responded "and you're a fucking asshole."

So my take to teach kids? Don't be gratuitously cruel to anyone for any reason. Including crips, Moslems, retards or even folkies.   If I hear this near me I tell them. And their friends and parents. My duty is to not walk on by when I come across hate crimes (and this is just another form of hate crime). I stop and protest as firmly as it takes.

When I do that the talk stops.

There's another side, of course. Those whose problem is so great that they cannot get on in life without help. Each case is different but for those that need my help, I help them. Without qualms. And without sympathy. AND I expect them to help ME when I need it and they can.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: CapriUni
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 10:44 PM

From Abbey Sale: I've thought about this thread for some time now. I think I know how I feel about the issue now. I'm agin' it.

Excuse me, but what exactly is "the issue" of this thread? If I understand correctly, it started as a request by a teacher looking to do a school project on songs with a social message, and the existance of disabilities as part of the human condition raises some social issues... so she (he? can't tell from the e-mail address) was looking for songs about the subject. Are you against teaching this to children? Are you against addressing these issues? Are you against social activism among people with disabilities to fight for their civil rights? From what you've said in the rest of your post, I doubt it.

Maybe you're seeing something here that I'm missing... Or maybe I just have a few pieces missing tonight ;-)

From Abbey Sale again: Each case is different but for those that need my help, I help them. Without qualms. And without sympathy. AND I expect them to help ME when I need it and they can.

If you define "sympathy" as a synonym for "pity," I agree wholeheartedly. However, I always thought it was a closer synonym for "compassion", so I found this last paragraph a little jarring.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 10:52 PM

Hey, this thread would not be complete without John Prine's song (title unknown) that speaks about aman who comes home from Viet Nam with a drug habit. Went something like this:

"There's a hole in daddy's arm
where all the money goes
Jesus died for nothin'
I suppose...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: winterchild
Date: 02 Mar 03 - 06:18 AM

This isn't really a change of topic, since he created simple little tunes to go with his topics; does anyone know what Mister Rogers' approach was on this topic? He seemed to be able to think like a kid, so I'm interested.

WinterChild


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Callie
Date: 02 Mar 03 - 06:37 AM

CapriUni - thanks for posting the last verse of the Si Kahn song. I had only ever heard the chorus and thought it was an uplifting song. I take your point!

C


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 02 Mar 03 - 07:32 AM

So my take to teach kids? Don't be gratuitously cruel to anyone for any reason- you said it, Abbey. I finally teach in a school that recognizes the value of permeating every moment of every day with basic social skills, the most basic being something like the Golden Rule combined with the message, "Everybody is of value."
I won't say my days are free from the need to discipline, but I will say that no matter who comes to visit our school, they all are struck by how kind and caring and alive and responsive the kids are. I don't teach "disability songs" but my kids are getting the message without spelling it out in song.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: CapriUni
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 12:53 PM

From Abbey Sale: I don't want disabled kids conned into thinking "they're just as good as anyone else."   

Okay, this has been rattling around in my head, and bothering me all the while. I grew up as a disabled kid in the '60's and '70's. If my mother hadn't been obnoxious and pushy in insisting to the experts that I had the potential, at least, to be just as good a human being as anyone else, and if she hadn't taught me to stick up for myself, I'm certain I'd be a mental vegetable in some assylum by now -- if I'd be alive at all.

Two cases in point (which may be fodder for a song, if I can figure out how to write it):

When I was born, in 1964, it was the assumption that cerebral palsy and retardation went together as the rule rather than the exception. So when I was 2, my parents were told to bring me in to the hospital for a cognitive evaluation.

My parents and I were sitting in the waiting room, having a conversation. They were facing the door; I had my back to it. Then the nurse came in, said hello to my parents, grabbed the back of my stroller, and without a single word to me, wheeled me away into another room, where I waited until the psychologist came in (most of this story comes from memories of my mother retelling it, but I still have a visceral memory in the pit of my stomach of being grabbed from behind and spun around).

Well, the psychologist starts talking to me, and asking me to do stuff, and I just stare at him, and not say a word (since I don't know him from a martian). So he concludes that I must be retarded, and calls my mother in to break the bad news... Meanwhile, she has been stewing over how I was treated by the nurse, and decides that, in order to keep her cool, she'll answer questions with only: "Yes," "No," or "I don't know."

She comes in, sits down next to me and smiles, and when the psychologist tries to demonstrate how I don't respond, I complete all the tasks without mistake (now that Mom was there, I felt okay), while she is answering every question with "Yes," "No," or "I don't know."

So the doctor takes the evaluation of "retarded" off my chart, but puts my mother down as "hostile and manipulative" (she was obviously manipulating me, since I would only "perform" with her in the room. :-P)

I shudder to think what would have happened to me if she had been the kind of woman who is cowed by authority figures, and had accepted the doctor's diagnosis...

Fast forward roughly ten years:

Decades before ADA and IDEA, my parents fought for me to be put in a mainstream classroom, so in fourth grade I was the only kid in a wheelchair in my class -- I sat against the wall near the door, because that was where I had enough room to manuever into my desk.

Well, one day, the class was particularly chatty, and wouldn't quiet down as the teacher was trying to give her lesson. So she got angry and said that she would write the lesson on the blackboard and we had to read the instructions. If we didn't do the lesson, we would get an F (or something along those lines)... Well, from where I was sitting, all I could see on the blackboard was glare, so I raised my hand and called the teacher over. I told her I couldn't read the lesson, and as I had been one of the few who had been trying to listen, could she please whisper the lesson in my ear -- I promised I wouldn't cheat and tell anyone else. She refused. She said the punishment was for the whole class, and I was part of the class, so it wouldn't be fair if she treated me differently.

Needless to say, I was pretty upset when I came home that afternoon, and told my mother what had happened, she said: "I have a PTA meeting tonight, and your teacher will be there. If you write a letter of protest, I'll deliver it for you." So my mom helped me write that letter. She helped me make it polite, firm, to the point, grammatically correct and neatly printed.

When I came down to breakfast the next morning, she told me that I had written a really good letter -- that it was so strong, it had the teacher scared -- that her hand shook while she was reading it, and she was so nervous that when she folded the letter up again and creased it, she ripped it through the middle.

Well, when I got to school the next day, as we were settling in waiting for attendance to be called, the teacher came over to my desk, knelt down beside my chair and "yelled" at me sotto voce, while shaking that letter in my face, saying that I was the student, she was the teacher and that I had no right to question her authority.

All that time, I was staring at a vertical tear in the middle of the letter, and remembering my mother saying I must've been in the right, because otherwise, the teacher wouldn't have been so scared. I couldn't help thinking that although the teacher may have had the authority, I was the one with real power.

My mother taught me:

Because of my CP, the hill I have to climb is a lot steeper than others' -- but that doesn't make them or me any better as people.

Others will see my disability before they see the rest of me... So if I put my hand to something, I'd better be damn sure I don't do a half-arsed or lazy job, and earn their respect through the excellence of my work.

And that if I want to be treated like a princess, I have to practice Noblesse Oblige, first.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: AggieD
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 01:46 PM

I like Leon Rosselson's 'The Ugly Ones'.

This covers far more than "disabilites", encompassing a far wider theme of those who are sidelined because of being able to do anything other than standing on 2 feet, or who do not fit in with anyones terms of what they believe is able.

I spent many years caring for my mother who had severe arthritis, & was unable to go out except in a wheelchair & we also experienced the 'what does she want syndrome. Most people were shocked when they got short shrift from me, especially when I told them that my mother was a far more able bodied person than them, because she wasn't rude.

If the teacher wants to analyse the reasons for the songs being written, then I don't see much harm in it as a subject for study, but I have always looked on life that we are all disabled in some way, not one of us on this earth is able to carry out every physical or mental task they would like to.

So we should all treat each person as an individual & consider what they can contribute to this life.


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Subject: RE: songs about disabilities
From: Abby Sale
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 05:06 PM

CapriUni: There you go! That's what I meant. (Don't worry about the semantics.) The disabled often need to work some harder to stay even. So what? That's the way it is. So if they work harder they do stay even. Or ahead. Or way ahead. They're still "disabled" but no longer particularly "handicapped." (The terms don't matter, you get the idea.)

If they just sit on their duffs there being "just as good as anyone else," as if it were some kind of value judgement then they're just cripples depending on good will. And most people don't have much good will.

And no, no sympathy, compassion, heartfelt this or that. Just do what's needed. If I saw you wheeling up to a heavy door in a supermarket I'd hold the door open as a matter of course. But I'd do the same for Hulk Hogan if his arms were full of packages and the door would be awkward.   It's called courtesy, not sympathy.

Screw the lovey-dovey songs about our poor-ass chalenged Americans. Let them feel good by doing the best they can. And kicking butt when necessary. And, of course, singing folksongs. (You can get some interesting fire-breathing dragon decals at the Auto Zone and some intriguing stuff from the Harley dealer to stick on the wheel chair. And a six-pack cooler fits over the arm & doesn't hit the wheel. The things are still stupidly designed for the occupant to use but slowly improving. There's no good place to mount a machine gun but plenty of room for an air horn and a bayonet fitting on the foot rest. Watch it, Bub, there's a cripple coming up the path at speed and you're in the way!)

As a completely separate issue, I've come to believe that most USians are actually deeply afraid of the disabled - or the seriously ill. I especially include health care professionals in this. Don't want to really get into this now because it's a long rant. But I've seen too many doctors & nurses hide their eyes from those who either 1) the medics can't help or 2) refuse to conveniently die. Maybe it's some kind of fear of "There but for God go I" or maybe failure to control the world around them or being faced with their incompetance - I don't know.   But most of the outrageous behavior - talking to the care giver instead of the patient, mockery & cruelty - all that I think is based in some fear.


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