by Ani Difranco

They were digging a new foundation in Manhattan
And they discovered a slave cemetery there
May their souls rest easy
Now that lynching is frowned upon
And we’ve moved on to the electric chair
And I wonder who’s gonna be president, tweedle dum or tweedle dummer?
And who’s gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer?
How about we put up a wall between houses and the highway
And you can go your way, and I can go my may

Except all the radios agree with all the tvs
And all the magazines agree with all the radios
And I keep hearing that same damn song everywhere I go
Maybe I should put a bucket over my head
And a marshmallow in each ear
And stumble around for
Another dumb-numb waiting for another hit song to appear

People used to make records
As in a record of an event
The event of people playing music in a room
Now everything is cross-marketing
Its about sunglasses and shoes
Or guns and drugs
You choose
We got it rehashed
We got it half-assed
We’re digging up all the graves
And we’re spitting on the past
And you can choose between the colors
Of the lipstick on the whores
Cause we know the difference between
The font of 20% more
And the font of teriyaki
You tell me
How does it… make you feel?

You tell me
What’s … real?
And they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
Even when they’re as dry as my lips for years
Even when they’re stranded on a small desert island
With no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
And I wonder
Is he different?
Is he different?
Has he changed? what’s he about?..
Or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?

Am I headed for the same brick wall
Is there anything I can do about
Anything at all?
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
And dig deeper, dig deeper this time
Down beneath the impossible pain of our history
Beneath unknown bones
Beneath the bedrock of the mystery
Beneath the sewage systems and the PATH train
Beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
Beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
Beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
Beneath everything I can think of to think about
Beneath it all, beneath all get out
Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel

There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel
There’s a fire just waiting for fuel

You can listen to “Fuel” by clicking on the “Play song from” link here.

Ani Difranco is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter. She has released over twenty albums, is a Grammy Award winner, and is a feminist icon.

Editor’s Note: This post was by request. If you have a request of your own please feel free to post it as a comment.

Today’s post continues our conversation about music and poetry, and whether songs are, in fact, poetry. The consensus from our earlier discussion seems to be a resounding yes, and I agree.

For me, some songwriters are really getting at the heart of poetry with their lyrics. Ani Difranco is at the top of this list for me. My personal favorite Ani Difranco lyric is from “32 Flavors” and reads “and god help you if you are an ugly girl / course too pretty is also your doom / cause everyone harbors a secret hatred / for the prettiest girl in the room / and god help you if you are a phoenix / and you dare to rise up from the ash / a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy / while you are just flying past.” I simply cannot see that as anything other than poetry.

I think today’s piece is extremely exemplary of how a song can be poetry. If you listen to the recorded version you will see that Difranco essentially speaks the entire song. This is almost more of an example of spoken word poetry with accompanying music than it is a song, and yet, it is featured as a song on the artist’s album “Little Plastic Castle.” Beyond that, the song covers topics such as politics and the state of the world today – topics traditionally covered in poetry.

Want to read more by and about Ani Difranco?
Ani Difranco lyrics from a devoted fan

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Managing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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