NOTE TO SINGERS:
Problem: You find a song you like. You can't sing it in the
Solution: Email me (zouki (at) earthlink dot net) and I'll
send you a version transposed to whatever
key you want!
OF SONGS ON THIS WEBSITE
HOW TO USE THIS PAGE:
Click on the song title to get to a folder.
In the folder will be files.
songname -w.pdf = file contains the song words
only (no notation or chords)
songname -m.pdf = file contains the notation/chords
(may also have words)
songname.mp3 or .mid = sound file
songname -s.mp3 or -s.mid = sound "snippet"
To open .pdf files, you need Adobe Reader or (in Mac)
Preview. Your browser probably has
Adobe Reader in it as a plug-in already, but if you need to
download it, search for"Adobe Reader
Free Download" and go from there.
If your browser is properly configured, the .mp3 or
.mid file should start to play as soon as you
click it. OR: the browser will ask what you want to do with
the file. Answer is to save it somewhere
on your hard-drive and open it later using RealPlayer,
NOTE: if none of the above makes the least bit of
sense to you, ask your grandchildren for help.
I do it all the time.
| The CAPE
|In June 2012, a young
male bear decided to visit Cape Cod by
(apparently) swimming across the Cape Cod Canal.
He became an instant celebrity - no bears have
been on the Cape for many many years - and this
little song is intended to commemorate his
link to the story - enjoy!
|It isn't easy looking at one's
life and coming to this conclusion. This song
explains how I accomplished it! (Hey,
maybe that makes me NOT boring after all!)
"ALL YOU CAN EAT" BUFFET
|This little ditty commemorates a
recent trip to one of those Chinese places where you
pig out, in spite of your best intentions not to.
Anyway it was a very enjoyable family day! (And yes,
we were hungry an hour later!)
|I consider myself moderately
well-versed in Irish history, at least to the extent
of being familiar with names, but I had never heard of
Devlin (1780-1851) until I came across a chapter
about her in a book about Dublin. The story
immediately suggested itself to me as worthy material
for a song. I hope you agree.
| ANTHEM FOR SEPTEMBER
|Dedicated to the brave men and women
who made the ultimate sacrifice on that day, which
indeed we will never forget. May God hold them and their
families in the palm of His hand.
|LET'S NOT CELEBRATE X-MAS!
|Guaranteed to warm the cockles of
your heart (or wherever you keep your cockles) next time
"The Holiday Season" rolls around! This song was
recently voted "The ACLU's 16th-Favorite Holiday Song"
|BALLAD of the "MAERSK ALABAMA"
|My tribute to Captain Richard
Phillips and the crew of the "Maersk Alabama". The
pirates who attacked this US-flag ship off the Horn of
Africa in April of 2009 really got more than they
bargained for, including the opportunity to provide
target practice for some Navy Seals!
| BANKS OF THE FAIR SUSQUEHANNA
|The Susquehanna River website says:
It winds its way south from Otsego Lake near
Cooperstown, New York, through the northern and
central ranges of the Appalachian Mountains in
Pennsylvania. By the time it meets the Chesapeake Bay,
the Susquehanna River has flowed 444 miles. With an
average daily rush of 22 billion gallons of water, the
Susquehanna is the largest contributor of freshwater
to the Bay.
Factual but not descriptive of this lovely river,
which meanders through much picturesque country on its
way to the bay. (Some of my maternal ancestors were
farmers in the Afton/Nineveh area of Chenango County,
NY, through which the Susquehanna flows. I didn't know
this when I wrote the song.)
Some of the country the river flows through was once
active coal-mining country - a few of the mines remain,
but many are closed down. In their heyday, however, the
mines and the railroads provided work for generations of
immigrant laborers and their sons and grandsons. This
song is dedicated to all of them, especially the Irish
|This a more-or-less "art song" that I
composed many years back and recently revised. It didn't
originally have anything to do with Texas and I'm not
sure how or why it does now. It's dedicated to our
Hill Country friends Butch (RIP) and Jackie Greene.
The success of this piece would seem to depend on it
being performed in the right place at the right time, by
the right singer (not too much to ask, right?)
No vocal MP3 of this yet but the MIDI file will give you
an idea of how the song sounds.
|BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
|They will always be necessary in this
troubled world. God be kind to them all and keep them
safe as they go about their task.
|CAPE COD COYOTE
|We never had coyotes here on the Cape
until a few years back. Nobody is quite sure how they
got here but they're here now, and evidently here to
|This is one of the first songs I ever
wrote. We had at least two cats at the time and I guess
I was inspired by the way they can manage to go off into
a groove somewhere, regardless of what was going on
I love dogs too, but they're not anywhere near as
introspective (or "mysterious") as cats seem to
be. What you see with a dog is what you get; with a cat
you get what the cat wants you to get. Dogs can never
get enough of you - cats, not so much. All clear?
|They say you should write about what
you know, so this song is based on my background in the
deep-sea shipping business. If you're not sure what a
ship pilot does, this song will help you understand. (So
far the song seems to be very well received, for which I
This song is dedicated to the memory of just such a
pilot, Capt. Lyn Deibert, who lost his life boarding a
vessel in stormy seas off Cape Henry VA in February
|This was composed during the "bossa
nova" craze of the late Sixties and early Seventies,
when everyone was in love (rightfully so!) with
Brazilian music, and performers like Antonio Carlos
Jobim and Astrud Gilberto were so popular.
The funny thing is that - unlike 99 percent of other
musical fads - bossa nova and samba are really excellent
music, and they have manifested a great staying
power over the years to prove their worth.
So this and "Little Girl" down the page are my intended
contributions to a great durable musical genre. Viva
|This is an older song, composed
during a New York blizzard (1972?) while I was
recovering from a dislocated shoulder (which gave me an
excuse for sitting around looking out the window a lot).
I still like snow, but after a few Cape Cod winters
(especially this 2015 one!), I think I've seen enough to
last me a few hundred years.
|CRY OF THE UNBORN
|If you think that the Roe v Wade
decision was a great contribution to human happiness
(and that we should continue shovelling taxpayer dollars
to Planned Parenthood), this is probably NOT the song
|DOGGIE IN THE MOONLIGHT
|This is a romantic ballad that will I
hope be meaningful to anyone who has shared life with a
dog. A certain "willing suspension of disbelief" would
come in handy as you listen to the lyrics, but never
forget that even the dumbest dog is roughly 21.78 times
smarter than any human.
Quote from Will Rogers: "If dogs don't
go to Heaven, when I die I want to go where they go."
|This song is dedicated to the women
of Dublin, all "of a certain age", who will always
represent to me the faith, kindness, and civility that
may be in the process of disappearing forever (and not
only from Dublin).
So this is for Rosie, and Chrissie, and Kitty, and
Fanny, and all the other ladies about whom it may
truthfully be said: their likes will not be seen again.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to
spend time with them.
|A lovely rare song about 19th-century
Dublin. Words of this song can be found (with no music
or attribution as to author) in Maureen Jolliffe's
"Third Book of Irish Ballads" (Mercier, Cork, n/d). The
tune is mine (as are a few minor tweaks of the words).
| The EXILE
|I mention in the commentaries to
other songs that many songs that I write are based on a
composite experience, so that the protagonists in the
songs are not individually real but are a synthesis of
different real people.
This is certainly true of this song, which is a snapshot
of the life of an young immigrant who is in the process
of realizing that his time in America has not met - and
maybe will never meet - his expectations. I've
encountered a lot of people like this over the years,
and you probably have too.
|This could be a great song in the
right hands (or throat). Feels like San Francisco but
actually based on New York.
|FOUR VOICES, ONE GOD
|The story of the Four Chaplains who
perished so tragically aboard the ship "Dorchester" in
February 1943 has always been an inspiring one, but as
years pass fewer and fewer people will remember the
incident or the incredible sacrifice made by these
heroic men of God. This is my attempt to rekindle
interest in the subject before it disappears from our
national consciousness entirely. (There's an excellent website
for those interested in finding
out more about the Four Chaplains.)
|This song tells the lovely story of a
5th century saint and his feline companion. It's taken
(with some "artistic license" involved) from Fr. Alban
Butler's Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition
(edited by Thurston and Attwater). St. Gerasimus'
feastday is March 5th.
|HOLD THE HARVEST
|This is a song version of a poem by
Frances "Fanny" Parnell (1848-1882), the "Patriot Poet"
who was the sister of the Irish statesman Charles Stuart
Parnell and every bit his equal when it came to
agitating for land reform in 19th-century Ireland. Fanny
spent most of her time and energy working for the Irish
cause in the United States, living in New Jersey with
her American mother (whose father was one of the
commanding officers of the USS Constitution).
Fanny died of heart failure in New Jersey but is buried
in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge,
Mass., just outside Boston.
Verses 1-3 of this version were quoted in "History
Ireland" magazine, Spring 1999 edition; verse 4 quoted
in an article by Willie White in the Carlow Nationalist
[newspaper], Jan.14  edition).
Thanks to Seán Brennan and Nikki Engstrom for including
this on their fine CD "Another Round".
|I CAN'T GET THE OLD MAN
|If you've ever attended a dance,
Irish or otherwise, where there were some older folks in
attendance, you should be able to appreciate this little
|One of my first "formal" composition
efforts. I'm not sure if it's a folk song or an "art"
song, but I hope you'll be able to enjoy it on either
level! (Note: due to the welcome - and one hopes permanent
- political changes in Nor-'
thern Ireland, the lyrics have undergone considerable
revision in recent years.)
|JUST POINT MY FEET
|This song began its existence as I
was flying over Eastern Virginia headed to Camp Lejeune
NC, the largest Marine base on the East Coast. My son
was stationed there at the time.
The rights and wrongs of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan will be debated for many years, but I don't
think there's any dispute - in the US at least - about
the heroic role being played by our military personnel
on the ground over there. This song is dedicated to all
of them. Blessed indeed be the peacemakers!
|KATIE MIND THE LIGHT! (The True
Story of Katie Walker)
|While I was doing some research on an
unrelated aspect of New York harbor history, I came
across the remarkable story of Katie Walker, who served
as keeper of the Robbins Reef lighthouse for 33 years
until she retired in 1919.
The Robbins Reef lighthouse still stands in New York
harbor, but it's been unmanned (or, in this case,
unwomanned) for many years. New Yorkers who commute back
and forth to Staten Island know the lighthouse very
well, even if they don't know its name, since it stands
less than a mile from the ferry terminal in St. George.
Evidently it continues serving to this day as a "lighted
aid to navigation" - Katie would indeed be proud!
There are several versions of Katie's story on the
Internet, including the version written in
1999 by Captain T.P. Harris for the SailNortheast
website. It's called Mind
the Light - the Story of Kate Walker.
Another source is the article
on the National Lighthouse Museum website.
(Note that I use both "Kate" and "Katie" in the song -
artistic license and all that!)
|Another "bossa nova" wannabe! Great
music came out of Brazil in the 1960's and 1970's, and
the nice part is that it's still heard and appreciated
|MERCHANT MARINERS' HYMN
|The civilian sailors who sacrificed
so much during their service in the Merchant Marine
during World War II never (to the best of my knowledge)
had their own "service song" to commemorate what they
had done. This is my contribution to the memory of these
brave but largely forgotten heroes, without whose
efforts the course (and the result) of WW II might have
been entirely different.
|I'm not a "morning person" in the
sense of jumping happily out of bed at 6:00 a.m. to take
my cold shower and do my morning jog. I'll put up with
morning but I'll do it under protest and in the firm
belief that the only reason mornings exist is to allow
your stomach time to get ready for lunch. And forget
about cold showers and jogs. Anyway this song should
help elucidate my feelings, and tough rabbits if it
|MUSIC'S THE VERY BEST THING
|My tribute to the traditional
musicians of past, present, and future who have brought
so much to my life and will continue to bring their
gifts to the world long after I'm gone.
|NATION BLESSED WITH HEROES
|A tribute to the heroes, military and
otherwise, that we see in action every day. Please God
we will never take them for granted!
|NEVER TRUST THE SEA
|A song in John Conolly ("Fiddler's
Green") or Stan Rogers style (I hope) about those who
make their living from the sea. When I wrote this song,
we weren't aware of the fact that there were actual
fishermen in our (my wife's) family. Since they fished
out of Kilkeel (County Down), I changed the
original lyrics from "My family were fishermen from the
WESTERN coast of Ireland" to "NORTHERN coast". Otherwise
the sentiments are the same.
|NEW BEDFORD'S BRAVE CATALPA
|This song is based on a true story,
an amazing one at that, concerning the 1876 rescue of
some Irish Fenian prisoners from an Australian jail by a
New Bedford whaler named "Catalpa". It's a great story
and would probably make a wonderful movie or action
cartoon (or whatever they're called these days.)
Here's the basic plot:
"On a sunny afternoon 127 years ago today, one of the
most brazen rescue missions in history was launched from
New Bedford. Setting out in a whaling ship called The
Catalpa, Capt. George Smith Anthony was determined to
spring six Irish rebels from the notorious Australian
prison, Fremantle Gaol, where they had been incarcerated
by the English."
- Peter F. Stevens, The
Voyage of the Catalpa: A Perilous Journey and Six
There's a lot of information on this topic on the
Internet, but a concise article on the rescue can be
|OH LORD AND CREATOR OF LIFE
|My words (religious) to the tune of
the Irish traditional love song "Ar Eirinn ni nEosfainn
Ce hI" ("For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name").
|OLD FRIENDS NEVER LIE
|When you say one thing and mean
another, is that irony? If so, this song is loaded with
it (vitamin C and selenium too). Composed in the early
70's if I remember correctly.
|"A trip down Memory Lane..." (as Joe
Franklin - some of you might remember him - used to
I was very lucky to grow up in a great neighborhood (the
Fort Hamilton section of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn) and this
is my tribute to it. (By the way - it hasn't changed a
heck of a lot in 50+ years!)
I always thought this would be a great song for Tony
Bennett but then I'm always thinking dopey thoughts.
|If you're ever lucky enough to visit
Juneau, Alaska, you might come across the statue of a
dog down by the harbor. That dog is Patsy Ann, a bull
terrier of sorts who was the official greeter of the
city for many years. (Here's a link to a
website that has more information.) She's well deserving
of this modest musical tribute!
|This song celebrates the back roads
and "blue highways" of America. It's a great country,
but sometimes you have to get off the interstate to see
it (taking the train is another good way).
|The PRIDE of PIMLICO
|This is a neat little song from Colm
O Lochlainn's "More Irish Street Ballads" (Pan Books,
1978, out of print but copies probably available online
somewhere). The words were written by Arthur Griffith,
Dubliner, member of Sinn Féin, and father of the
Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. There's no melody given or
alluded to in O Lochlainn's book, so I made one up. I
hope it's adequate to the task! (I've changed a few of
the lyrics here and there - nothing serious.)
|ROCKAWAY, LOVELY ROCKAWAY
Rockaway is a peninsula in the southern part of Queens
County in New York City. It's located between Kennedy
Airport and the ocean, and is now (as it has been for
many years) mainly a residential area. It's a very
popular place in the summer, and its long sandy beaches
are always crowded. It got the hell beat out of it by
Hurricane Sandy but I'm sure it will be rebuilt if the
locals have anything to say about it!
We were talking to our friend Pat O'Brien a while back,
and Pat mentioned that Rockaway was the first place he
had stayed after coming to America from Ireland. This
didn't surprise me, since from years back until fairly
recently, Rockaway was predominantly an Irish
neighborhood. For many other Irish immigrants besides
Mr. O'Brien it was the first stop on their journey into
I had never heard a song about Rockaway before, so I
thought it might be time to write one before the Irish
connection was even more of a memory than it is now.
This song is dedicated to Pat and Kay O'Brien (Kay -
Pat's late wife, may she rest in peace - was from the
Bronx, but that's another story!)
|Saint Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx
is one of the largest in the city of New York. Over much
of its recent history, the Bronx has had a largely Irish
population, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that many
of the names on the stones of Saint Raymond's are Irish
This song commemorates the fact that there are three
great fiddlers - Michael Coleman, James Morrison, and
Johnny Cronin - buried in Saint Raymond's. (Another
legendary fiddler, Andy McGann, was laid to rest there
in 2004, but he was still alives when this song was
There are doubtless hundreds more musicians and friends
of traditional music buried in Saint Raymond's as well,
and this song is dedicated to all of them. May they all
rest in peace until that Big Session in the Sky gets
|This is a song based on a composite
of experiences of young Irishmen getting involved in
situations they probably would have avoided if they had
known better (or been in a different place at a
different time). It's a sort of an updated version of
"The Kerry Recruit". It's an old sad story and it's hard
to say if it's finally come to an end or not.
This is a long song, but then again, most wars are long
wars. And at least the song has a (more or less) happy
ending. (Don't forget the "snippet" (-s) file in the
|In the westernmost part of Ireland -
a place way out in County Galway called Connemara -
there's a road that runs for miles along the cliffs
looking over the ocean. It's difficult to describe how
beautiful it is out there along the Sky Road - or how
easy it would be to fall in love!
|SMALLER THAN A ROSE
|This song was inspired by an article
in the newspaper about an incident that took place
outside a local "women's health facility" (or whatever
the euphemism du jour was at the time) some years back.
The details were pretty graphic and I don't repeat them
in the song, but I hope my words will help capture some
of the sadness of the event.
|SONG FOR ULSTER (Where Do We
Go From Here?)
|Every time that it appears that a
real honest-to-God peace process has taken hold in
Northern Ireland, something comes along to throw cold
water on it - a parade, a bank robbery, yet another
killing for no apparent reason, and so forth. Sooner or
later everyone will get it right, and progress will
definitely continue in closing a long sad page of
|Ships have always been considered
mysterious and romantic (although when you have to stand
on a pier somewhere at 4:00 am on a cold January morning
waiting for one to tie up, the mystery and romance might
not be too obvious).
|The TANKERMAN'S SHANTY
|There are lots of great sea songs
around, some of them traditional and some of them
composed (think "Fiddler's Green" or "The Mary Ellen
My friend and musical mentor Tom Goux is a great fan and
performer of these songs, and has introduced many folks
to them in the course of his career as solo musician and
It occurred to me at one point that the world of today's
shipping doesn't supply a lot of material for the
creation of new shanties - fortunately there are plenty
of old ones around. But I thought it might be fun to try
an "updated" shanty, more "relevant" to the 21st-century
|TO START A NEW LIFE
|This is my light-hearted perception
of the Irish emigrant experience. I have a great deal of
respect for the men and women who left the security (if
not necessarily the comfort) of their native land to
come to America, never knowing whether they would be
successful and/or happy in this country so different in
so many ways from their own.
|Like many of my songs, this one is
based on a composite of different experiences. The hero
is a fictional character, but I hope that there's enough
reality about his life as described in the song to make
it seem as if we've met him before.
|The TUG THUBAN
|I guess the idea is not necessarily
to wait until you're closing in on 60 years of age to
fulfill a lifelong dream, especially one that - as
I was dismayed to discover - involves intense physical
But I had always wanted to work on a tugboat, and when
the opportunity presented itself, I leaped at the
"Thuban" is a little tug that operates in the waters
around Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay, towing an oil
barge and occasionally a gravel scow back and forth from
the Vineyard to New Bedford and other exotic ports. In
fair weather it's nice work; in foul weather it's awful.
But, as the saying goes, somebody has to do it.
Here's a photo
of the good vessel, taken in January 2015 as she was
heading west in the Cape Cod Canal.
My career as a tug deckhand was
short-lived but - as my ever-sensible wife says - at
least I can say I tried it!
|Composed to honor the veterans of
Falmouth, Mass. on their special days (Memorial Day and
Veterans' Day). (There is a TTBB choral version of this
on the BBWorks site.)
|This is my personal effort to provide
a substitute for the "Wedding Song" that always seems to
be performed (not always well) by one of the bride's
cousins - you know the one: she was a flower child back
in 1969 and still has the beat-up no-name twelve-string
guitar and a Doors poster to prove it. (AND she has
every Peter Paul and Mary LP ever made.)
|WILD NORWEGIAN BOY
|For our good friend and fine musician
Mark Oien, who is justifiably proud of his Norwegian
roots. (The tune of course is "Wild Colonial Boy", which
I'm guessing is so well known as not to need a notation
|WILL YOU POINT OUT MY WIFE IF
YOU SEE HER?
|This is a song with an honest-to-God
title, i.e. the words were actually spoken by a living
human being that you know and I know and we'll say no
more about it except to note that this is not a work of
fiction, merely of embellishment, as many better
men than I will confirm. ("Rick" is a clever pseudonym
designed to protect the good reputation of the
|The WORCESTER FIREMEN
(Ballad in Traditional
Style: For the Worcester Firemen)
|On December 3rd, 1999, a devastating
fire in an abandoned warehouse in Worcester, MA, took
the lives of six brave firefighters.
This song is a memorial to these men, and by extension a
statement of gratitude to all the brave firefighters who
selflessly put their lives on the line for us every