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Song lyrics from THE SAFE THING TO DO


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All songs  by Ray Korona, except Toys for Peace  by Ray Korona and Pete Seeger


Take the turnpike through New Jersey
Where it meets the Garden State.
If you take Exit 11 there instead of going straight,
You can visit Sayreville where Diane, a mother of two
Saw what war can do to kids
And did what she had to do –

chorus: Because we have got to learn
to live in peace some day.
Maybe soldiers with toys, not guns,
will find a better way.

She said school children in Sayreville
Should give a toy or two
To the children in Iraq. They have so very few.
Diane’s neighbor Karen agreed
And soon a movement grew.
Would the schools go along?
What else could the school board do?

repeat chorus

So they set up big containers
In the schools in Sayreville.
It really was inspiring how quickly they would fill.
Sara brought her favorite doll.
She told her not to cry.
Soon she’d have a new best friend.
She kissed that doll goodbye –

repeat chorus

The colonel said, “Let’s do it!
Yes, we will try your plan.
Our soldiers can give out toys
In Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Those soldiers loved to meet the kids.
They hope their visits increase.
When you make a child smile
You build a bridge to peace.

repeat chorus and verse one


See it rolling up the river
Heading right this way –
Black smoke from the power plant,
Another sour day.
Everybody’s got allergies,
Young people move away.
If you want electricity
That’s the price they make you pay.

chorus: Did they ever hear of solar power?
Ever see a windmill go?
Feel the pull of an ocean wave?
The heat from a volcano?
There’s so much we could do,
There’s so much we could know,
If we listen to the earth.

We use oil to heat buildings,
But it does much more –
Fouls the air with emissions;
Greenhouse gasses soar.
We’ll do anything for oil –
Drill the planet to the core,
Trade a beach for a waste site,
Bomb a country, start a war.

repeat chorus

bridge: When I go outside at night
I really want to see stars,
Not the blur of deadly smog
Around a planet full of scars.

Nuclear energy can’t save us –
Don’t buy that lie.
Just makes sense as a solution
To someone who’d like to die.
They say nukes make good neighbors.
They’re safe, they certify
’Til they leak radiation or blow sky high.

repeat chorus


They say the cost of health care’s way too high.
So they’ve got a health care plan: pay or die.
Do they think we’ll write our wills and say goodbye?
Let’s give them a fight they won’t forget
While they’re trimming the fat right off the budget.

Rather than support another crank
Funds for student loans could buy a tank.
If they’re needy, let them see a bank.
Sure like keeping you in debt
While they’re trimming the fat right off the budget.

Artists won’t need handouts if they try
Painting things that people want to buy
Like cowboy heroes, planes up in the sky,
A lifelike sketch of your pet.
And they’re trimming the fat right off the budget.

bridge: Though they say it’s time to blow the whistle,
They’d gladly lend some tyrant friend a missile.
With some sleight of hand and a little luck,
Every fat cat’s gonna make a buck.

They’ll take back all the food from the poor,
Let them get their school lunch at the store,
Use the savings for an oil war.
They spent billions on bombs. Did they forget
That they’re trimming the fat right off the budget?
Heck! They’re trimming you and me right off the budget!


My kid brother Tommy snuck into my bedroom
And turned the computer on.
He used to play baseball; he used to watch TV;
Now Tommy’s been a long time gone.

chorus: Earth to Tommy: Please come back.
Everybody misses you, kid!
Earth to Tommy: Please come back.
There’s more to life than PC and Mac.

Our teen sister Martha fixes him a sandwich
But he only wants caffeine.
He buys stock on margin,
Sells music on eBay;
He’s publishing his own e-zine.

repeat chorus followed by bridge:
He sits in a chair; you think he’s right there.
It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.
He surfs and searches; he turns up the speakers;
He’s left us for the world on the screen.

Our whole family plans to pull out all the cables
When Tommy heads off to the john.
We also think maybe he should go in hiding
After hacking the Pentagon.

repeat chorus


Hey there, Old Timer, now what are you doing?
Always fixing something, raking leaves, shoveling snow.
You’re wearing that same shirt again –
It’s practically worn through.
Why won’t you buy a new one or try anything that’s new?

chorus: Your whole life, you walked a path only you could see.
And you knew it would take you where
You were always meant to be, meant to be.

Reliving good times half a century later,
Long gone friends remembered, painted large against the sky.
You don’t know what you did today
But the young years shine so clear.
Sometimes it makes you wonder – are they actually still here?

repeat chorus followed by bridge:
Now you’re thinking how life seems sad and strange.
But you laugh it off –
You learned long ago
It’s just this old world turning and bringing change.

repeat chorus


Social Security always took a chunk of my weekly pay
For benefits it doled out and funds it stored away.
I knew when I got too old to work, I’d still survive okay.
Now you say my money’s gone – go buy some stocks and pray!

chorus: I’ve got rent bills, electric bills,
medical and dental bills
And eating’s not a low priority.
I need bus fare, clothes to wear,
shoe repair and a pair of glasses
so I still can see.
Here’s a dose of reality:
My Social Security
Belongs to me!

Wall Street profits were flying high; then the bubble burst.
So you cut taxes for the rich, put big money first.
You pushed us into a senseless war and emptied out the purse.
You’re gonna teach me to save?! Our roles should be reversed.

repeat chorus

Things that you say you’re for – values you invoke
Never match what you do; you treat it like a joke.
If you really want to do what’s right instead of blowing smoke –
Hands off Social Security; don’t leave our seniors broke.

repeat chorus


I asked him if he’d help us to spread the word around
Of the thousands not permitted to be free.
They’re jailed without charges, held in secret without rights.
He said, “No. Sorry. Not me.”

chorus: It’s the safe thing to do –
Learn to look the other way.
Pretend you don’t know.
Got nothing to say.

There’s a place where they teach torture,
a military school.
Its graduates make lots of people die.
We’ve got to close it down. This petition’s worth a try.
He said, “No. Sorry. Goodbye.”

repeat chorus

bridge: He told me there are way too many causes
And he’s not a political man.
He didn’t just turn and walk away,
he ran!

Now he watches TV reruns behind a bolted door
In his big chair by the artificial plant.
He keeps the shades pulled down and if anybody calls,
He says, “No. Sorry. I can’t.”

repeat chorus


There aren’t too many places to play
Here in Anytown, USA.
The ones that pay are mostly just the bars.
They want hits with drums that rock –
They don’t want me ’cause all I’ve got are
Too many acoustic guitars.

chorus: Go rosin up the bow,
Add a bass to make it flow,
And I’m sure you will agree
There can never be
Too many acoustic guitars.

We’ve only got one radio show
Playing songs you might not know.
The rest just want “top forty” from the stars.
I write my own songs and sing some folk.
That’s not commercial – they think it’s a joke with
Too many acoustic guitars.

repeat chorus

So I take the songs from town to town,
Get them singing all around.
It’s good for the soul, though it’s hard on cars.
If you sing and play the whole night long
You’ll feel great ’cause you can’t go wrong with
Too many acoustic guitars.

repeat chorus


You sent them to the rear entrance,
Made them stand at the back of the bus.
Because people of color are not white
There was nothing to discuss.
Now you know who’s coming to dinner,
Who moved in next door,
Who’s on the rise north and south
And who’s just a dinosaur.

chorus: If all you see is race in a person’s face,
If hate consumes your mind,
You’re not my kind.

You used to own the cotton fields,
Then the housing in the city slum.
Your whip became a billy club,
Keeping people under your thumb.
Now the doomsday clock is chiming;
Your number’s up for sure.
Now you’ll have to learn to work
And fight if you want to make war.

repeat chorus, followed by bridge:
These walls are going down
And if you’re not down with that
Pack it in – put on your hat.

You thought the world was yours by birth
In the days of the old plantation.
That doesn’t cut it anymore;
Come meet the hip-hop nation.
But if you let go of that anger,
Your vicious ways of the past,
We’ll start to heal all this hurt
And all be free at last.

repeat chorus and bridge


Sometimes I wonder: Is living here worth it?
The noise and pollution get hard to take.
Thieves try to rip you. Cars almost hit you.
And no one ever cuts you a break.

chorus: Where can you go to find peace in this city?
Where can you go to see a neighbor or friend?
Who wants a world made only of concrete?
Long live our community garden!

It gives me flowers to put on the table,
Greens and tomatoes in summertime.
Nothing can make a meal taste finer
Than parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

repeat chorus, followed by bridge:
If this city has a soul, I know for sure
It’s not in some office on the sixtieth floor.

Two lonely people sit close together.
They never stop talking ’til almost dawn.
They’re holding hands when they leave the garden.
The magic of love and life goes on.

repeat chorus


I loved you so much
But it wasn’t there in my touch.
The moment escaped;
I blinked and the world was reshaped.
How can I ever explain?
What can you say to the rain?

Who draws the lines that we never can cross?
So we’re alone with a shadowy guard,
A soft kiss that’s scarred.

The sea seemed so fair
I swam out with hardly a care.
It leaped with a roar; I never again saw the shore.
Lost in a lonely refrain,
What can you say to the rain?

Where are the keys to the innermost doors?
Why can’t we free the withering dreams
Of love that redeems?

And now the sea sleeps
Forgetting the secrets it keeps.
I feel so drained,
Not caring what’s lost or what’s gained,
Feeling the joy or the pain.
What can you say to the rain?

Where are the keys to the innermost doors?
Why can’t we free the withering dreams
Of love that redeems?
How can I ever explain?
What can you say to the rain?


People will be dancing
All over the world!
A big peace flag
Will be unfurled.
I can feel it coming –
Starting today.
People will be dancing
All over the world!

repeat with other phrases:
People won’t be fighting
People will be kissing
Children will be laughing
Music will be playing

Add more of your own!

All songs
© 2005 by Ray Korona, except Toys for Peace © 2005 by Ray Korona and Pete Seeger