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A rowdy bag of swamp-rock anthems, bar-band blues, roadhouse boogies and some topical rabble-rousers

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For the reader who is trying to make sense of mankind's twenty-first century mess and doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, LIVE VERSE is here to help.


Live Verse Memes

are a songwriter's-choice studio band featuring internationally-known roots music artists led by Marty Rifkin with vocals by Teresa James, Bob Malone, Roy Zimmerman, James Intveld, and blues harp by John "Juke" Logan.

“Keep on writing those great songs.”
...Marcia Ball, Alligator recording artist

“We got it, we liked it, and we played it.”
...Ann Sternberg, Rock ‘n’ Roots (60 PBS stations)

“Your CD is among the best that came out this year. And I get about 30 per week on my desk.”
...Paul van Gelder,
Dutch National Radio VARA


“There is wit, there is humor and there is righteous Indignation...a mixture of Will Rogers and Pete Seeger.”
...Robert Ashley

“I recommend Live Verse for its brilliant insights and view of American life over the past half century.”
...G.D. Pincus

“A poetic journey of an artist, mother, wife...a pioneer for her time.”... Amazon purchaser


At my mother's knee, I learned a song or two
That Old Rugged Cross, That Good Ole Mountain Dew
Hank Williams met Cole Porter in my mother's bag of songs
She thought that music had the power to right the world’s wrongs.

At my mother's knee, I took a trip or two
Memphis In The Springtime, Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
I know This Land Is My Land, 'cause I studied history
With Muddy Waters, Stephen Foster, Woody Guthrie.

Songs of celebration
From the branches of my family tree
Songs of inspiration
Showed me life and shaped my destiny
Songs I heard in every bar
From San Jose to Wichita
Couldn't hold a candle to
My mother's kitchen repertoire.

She sang Come Home Bill Bailey, sang Good Night Irene
Took me Back To Tulsa, and Streets Of Abilene
She let that Midnight Special shine its lovin' light on me
She took me Up a Lazy River, and down By The Sea.

Pistol Packin' Mama, Sweet Savannah Sue
Ain't Nobody's Business, Memories of You
I wouldn't trade the whole wide world (I guess you get the point)
For songs I learned at my mother’s knee and other lowdown joints.

© 1996 Ellen Griffith


A rowdy slice of Americana from a maverick songwriter with an attitude. There are swamp-rock anthems, bar-band blues, roadhouse boogies, a honky-tonk torch song or two, and a raft of topical rabble rousers. Like “Road Rage Anthem.” Or “Only Dead Presidents Vote” which starts out, “Have you tried to buy a congressman lately?” and sums up: “Welcome to the teeming ranks of voter second class/Unless you feed the greed machine, it kicks your sorry ass.” One song goes to the mat with the corporate music establishment, and another hits Nashville upside the head. Yes, there are love songs. A love song to the city of New Orleans set to a strutting second-line beat, and a love song to the old steam locomotives called “Come Back Casey Jones” in a careening bluegrass groove. There’s even a tribute to the hokum blues of the 1930’s that makes an Olympic event out of innuendo: “You can dock your dinghy in my harbor any old day.” It’s historical and hysterical.

In the studio
Playback...Juke, Ellen, Marty

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It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville kids that day
The score: 18 to 20 with one inning left to play
And so, when Tommy died at first, and Joey did the same
A sickly silence fell upon the parents at the game.

They said, “If only Butch were here, or Petey, in that box.”
But Butch and Petey, hitters both, were home with chicken pox
But Billy bunted safely and Ricky’s bat exploded
Johnny got a walk, and they had the bases loaded!

Then from the gladdened multitude arose an anguished groan
Some parents laughed or snickered and some were heard to moan
Some offered false encouragement, the rest morosely sat
For Pee Wee, little Pee Wee, was advancing to the bat.

There was doubt in Pee Wee’s manner as he walked up to the box
A hitch in Pee Wee’s gait as he tripped upon his sox
And when, responding to the jeers, he turned and lost his hat
No stranger in the crowd could doubt t’was Pee Wee at the bat.

Two hundred eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands in dirt
And 50 mothers groaned as he wiped them on his shirt
And while the stern-faced pitcher rubbed the ball against his hip
Confusion shone in Pee Wee’s eye, a tremor touched his lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air
And Pee Wee stood and watched it with an indecisive stare
Right by the pint-sized batsman the ball unheeded sped:
“Can’t reach that one,” said Pee Wee. “Ball one!” the umpire said.

Once more the scowling pitcher made the leather spheroid hum
But Pee Wee only stood there and chewed his bubble gum
“Ball two!” the umpire stated. The coach yelled, “Good eye, Son!”
“A walk’s a run,” the parents cheered (though they needed more than one).

All watched as Pee Wee wiped his nose and hitched his pants up high
They saw the pitcher grip the ball and watched him let it fly
They saw the ball speed toward the plate and thought a strike t’would be
But Pee Wee’s size denied it and the umpire yelled: “Ball three!”

The frenzied parents cheered their luck, so recently forsaken
And Pee Wee gripped the bat and tried to keep his knees from shakin’
And now the pitcher holds the ball and now he lets it go
And Pee Wee swings and Pee Wee clouts that ball a mighty blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land there’s misery and gloom
The rain is raining somewhere and thunder speaks of doom
Oh, somewhere blues are sung because there’s tears and toil and trouble
But there ain’t no blues in Mudville. Little Pee Wee hit a double!

© Ellen Griffith 1968

(With apologies to Ernest Thayer, author of the classic “Casey at the Bat.”
No apologies, however, to Casey. He struck out!)


© 2018 Ellen Griffith - RECALL MUSIC