I launched a new project this month, plus a new song for National Poetry Month – a poem-song that connects two events that happened more than sixty years apart. I have set up an extra chair for you at the virtual kitchen table. Please join me!
NEWS: The Know Better Do Better Project
THIS MONTH’S MUSIC: “A Penny’s Just a Penny””
FEATURED NON-PROFIT: The Greater Boston Food Bank
News: The Know Better Do Better Project
Almost a year ago, several of my songwriter friends and I met to discuss how some folk and popular songs have contributed to systemic racism, especially those sung with and for children. As an exercise, we each chose one of those songs and wrote inclusive alternatives. Then we invited other songwriters to do the same. With fourteen songwriters all contributing new songs, we have launched the The Know Better Do Better Project to share them, and other information to call attention to this issue. We hope that many more songwriters will join our loose-knit community.
This Friday, April 23rd at 8:00 pm EST we will celebrate at a special virtual event at the venerable Club Passim. Please join co-host “Uncle” Devin Walker and me as we invite special guests to discuss and perform songs that they have written for the project. This is a free event, but donations to support our project will be accepted. We will live stream via Passim’s Youtube and Facebook pages.
This just in! Kathy Sands-Boehmer just published a wonderful interview with me. In it we discuss the Know Better Do Better Project and my music. Find it at her Everything Sundry blog.
This Month’s Music: “A Penny’s Just a Penny”
“A Penny’s Just a Penny” © 2021 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
Lyrics in the comments below.
Recently, I found a penny on my daily walk. That was nothing new or unusual. On another day I would have kept walking past the penny at my feet, not giving it a second thought. This particular day I picked it up, along with a memory from long ago.
I was about nine or ten years old, living in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania. Like many children, I loved sports – especially basketball. Basketball is a sport that one can play with very little equipment; and it is a great sport for rural areas because I could enjoy it by myself or with my nearest neighbor friend. Jerry lived about a mile down the road. My greatest treasure was a new pair of sneakers, just like my hero Bob Cousy wore! Bob Cousy famously played basketball for the Boston Celtics, and although he actually wore the more expensive Converse All-stars, I wore my Keds canvas sneakers with great pride.
On that remembered day, I found a penny while walking to play basketball with Jerry. Although I romanticized it a bit in my song, that event and my interaction with the old farmer actually happened. Over the last few weeks, I thought about that memory frequently. I even dreamed about it.
The mind works mysteriously sometimes. Mine attached that old memory to another one from three years ago. After making some music with the children at the Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston, I headed for home. It was a very cold evening. The bitter wind stung my face as I walked to the subway. The daily news had been filled with stories of the desperate homeless, but this evening it became real for me when I came across a home-made tent crudely pitched on an old mattress and draped over the subway vent. The tarp billowed as the warm exhaust kept those I imagined inside from freezing. At my feet, I found a penny.
Contrary to my song, I didn’t actually leave an envelope with $100 there at that tent; however I did make the biggest contribution that I was comfortable making to the local food bank. I encourage you to support The Greater Boston Food Bank, or click to find a food bank in your area.
“A penny’s just a penny, when a dollar’s in your hand.
I have a dollar in my hand.”
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
The Greater Boston Food Bank “works passionately to end hunger across Eastern Massachusetts by providing our neighbors in need the healthy food and resources they need to thrive… Your support enables GBFB to distribute healthy food to neighbors in need as well as nutrition programs and resources for sustained, healthy lives and healthy communities.” The GBFB has really stepped up its support for families adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – and there are a great many of them.