zerode – a sensibility


film, music, text, city, spectacle, pleasure

Song of the Day: All the freaky people make the beauty of the world

As promised, a change of pace from the songs of love, loss and heartache that I’ve been posting recently… and they don’t get more upbeat than this…

Michael Franti & Spearhead, “Stay Human (All the Freaky People)”Stay Human (2001)

The song just swings along and it is impossible not to jump in, join in, nod your head and sway your hips along to that rhythm. And the lyrics are brilliant and goofy, brilliantly goofy and perfectly suited to the smooth, summery swing of the tune – as in these tasty excerpts:

like a lifesaver deep in the ocean
stay afloat here upon the funky motion
rock and roll upon the waves of the season
hold your breath and your underwater breathin’
we need to heed the words of Dalai Lama
or at least the words of ya mama
take a mental trip to the Bahamas
steam your body in a stereo sauna, sauna, comma

Every flower got a right to be bloomin’
Every box got a right to be boomin’…

(and if you know what he sings next about something or someone who’s got a right to be Scooby-dooing, leave me a comment – in the live version it’s just “everybody’s got a right to be Scooby-dooing.”)

It’s really quite wonderful – put it on repeat and blast it into your backyard, strip down to your skivvies and dance – and sing his credo, make it your credo, act it out right there – All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.

You can find an acoustic version of this song by Franti alone on YouTube – the lyrics are the same, but listening to the two “side by side” shows how much the effectiveness of the lyrics, and the song as a whole, depends on their marriage to the swing and sway of the album version, and not the slow, quiet treatment they get in the acoustic cover. Still, it’s a good song in the acoustic version, just a different one – and it’s nice to hear Franti’s voice like this – rough, raspy and authentic – just laying it out in a very natural way. A great voice.

Similarly, check out the live performances of “All the Freaky People” below and on YouTube – where the solo acoustic version slowed it down, these live performances speed it up, but again it doesn’t quite work as well as the album version. This song, that version, that tempo – it’s a perfect marriage of tune, tempo, thought, feeling. You sway with a summertime groove, with all the freaky people, making the beauty of the world…

Michael’s one of my homies – or at least we both grew up in the Bay Area, with significant time in Oakland, and his musical career and mine (as a roadie/dog’s body) intersected a couple of times. So I’ve been following him with interest and pleasure since his earliest days with his first band, The Beatnigs, and on into The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and then Spearhead. One of the things I really admire about him is the courageous way he’s lived his life and acted on his beliefs, and married them to his art and his career in powerful and effective ways. You may not always agree with every political stance he’s taken, but you have to give him props.

Filed under: Song of the Day, , ,

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Creative Commons License
zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows


is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

tweeting my mind



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