Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleeping On A Train by Susan Werner

This blog entry by singer-songwriter, Susan Werner, describes some of the story behind her new song, "Sleeping On A Train," released March 1 on her new CD, Kicking The Beehive.  A special, free download of that song is graciously made available by Susan in support of Give US Your Poor.  Click here for Susan's link to free download.

BY SUSAN WERNER: This song, "Sleeping On A Train," came from two experiences - one is riding the blue line from O'Hare Airport here in Chicago to downtown, which is something I do routinely when travelling.  There are often homeless people sleeping on that train line, and less often on the orange line I take to Midway Airport. Eventually I figured out why.  It's because the blue line takes longer to complete its run from end to end, and therefore offers uninterrupted rest for a longer period of time.

The song also came about because of the homeless guys who stake out their position in front of my office building downtown every day.  It's like a shift - someone's there by 10 a.m. and usually gone by 4:30 pm. There was Jerry from Louisiana - he has a great sense of humor, often referring to me and all the other women going by as "sugar puddin" - but evidently he got too chatty with the customers at the outdoor tables at the cafe out front, according to the the cafe owner, so she called the police and he got shooed away.  He's staked out a new spot, about four blocks north on Michigan Avenue now.  I see him every once in a while but Tony has been out front, by the subway entrance, for many years.  And Tony filled me in on many of the details of his daily life - basically standing outside panhandling until he gets enough $ for a room at the men's hotel, which costs thirteen dollars a night (twelve sang better, so I made it twelve dollars a night - artistic license).  Otherwise he's on the train, too. $2.25 can buy you a night's rest - not a good night's rest.  They wake you up and chase you off every time the train hits the end of the line - but you can keep a roof of some sort over your head, and the heater works, and its a public place so you feel safer.

Tony has worked many odd jobs over the years - works a week at a time for the city cleaning up trash after grant park events like taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza.... the good news is now he's working in the violin shop on the fifth floor here, doing some handyman work.  It's the most regular job he's had in a long time, he says.  And I won't have to buy him handwarmers now - he's inside all day, and today's high temperature was 14 degrees. Tonight's low will be zero.

S. Werner
Feb. 8th, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bill Janovitz and The House Where Nobody Lives

Bill Janovitz, singer/songwriter and member of rock and roll band, Buffalo Tom (with Chris Colbourn and Tom Maginnis), has a cool blog that's called Part Time Man of Rock. (He also has been a good friend to Give US Your Poor, and for my money has the second greatest rock and roll voice ever after John Lennon.) On his blog, Bill does an acoustic cover song each week of whatever is inspiring him.
I mention it here on the Give US Your Poor blog because I came across a great piece he wrote along with a related cover song touching on the notion of home. Bill is also a real estate broker in Massachusetts and in the business of helping people get a home that meets their economic and emotional needs.

Check out what Bill writes on the subject and then listen to his rendition of the Tom Waits song, “The House Where Nobody Lives.”

You can find it by linking to his blog ("Part Time Man of Rock") and then on the right, under “Links,” click on “Cover of the Week 37 – The House Where Nobody Lives.”  That will get you the blog entry, read it, love it, then at the bottom click on the sound file link, "House Where Nobody Lives Mp3," to hear the recording.

It’s a great read/listen on the power of home, and the idea that a house is not a home without love.

Thanks Bill!

Buffalo Tom performed at the Give US Your Poor Concert for Boston's Homeless in 2007 at the Strand Theatre. Click here to see a video of their performance.  They also appear on the Give US Your Poor compilation CD (Appleseed Recordings).

Photo by Susan Young.