Some of My Relevant Songs (from www.erickarlstrom.com)
by Eric T. Karlstrom, February, 2016
Music has always been a central part of my life. Playing and singing, composing and jamming. I started on trombone at the age of 9, took up guitar at 13, banjo at 20, and piano at the age of the 30. In addition to playing these instruments, nowadays I’m also plunking away on a mandolin and dobro (resophonic guitar) occasionally, trying to discover the beauty of the sounds they can produce. A few months of lessons got me started on guitar and bluegrass banjo; I am completely self-taught on the piano. I have a website that features my vocal songs and instrumentals (www.erickarlstrom.com). To date, I’ve self-produced about 22 CDs that feature my originals as well as covers, and one full length movie. These days, I mostly enjoy improving my 5-string banjo skills by composing instrumentals for solo banjo.
I’ve heard it said that in terms of expression, music begins where words leave off. I agree with that. It is indeed the universal language. Music has the power to transport and transform the spirit…. it can elevate our spirits towards heaven and it can drag our spirits down to hell. Unfortunately, our controllers understand the power of music all too well. Thus, they do everything they can to control our musical “input,” just as they do everything they can to control our educational, media,and entertainment “inputs” as well. But more on that later. The last two lines from John Keat’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” express the profound, transformative power of beauty:
“beauty is truth, truth beauty,’- that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”
As an individual, I strive to express truth through my research and websites. And I strive to express beauty through my music. But as Keats suggests, the two intersect.
Like a lot of my friends in Arlington, Virginia, I began playing guitar in about 1963 or 1964. My first song consisted of a tune I wrote to fit a poem I’d written as an assignment for an 8th grade English class. The teacher, Mrs. Bowen, I think, liked it so much she had me get up and read it to the class. It’s called “Why Should It Be?” (See below lyrics). A more recent of my lyrical songs (2004) is entitled “Ode to Jimmy.” Jimmy Isenberg is actually featured in both of these songs. Jimmy was a childhood friend and, as I see it, one of the thousands and millions of victims of the 1960’s cultural chaos that was contrived and imposed on America by Britain’s Tavistock Institute and the CIA (See “White Out: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press” by Cockburn and St. Clair). When the folk craze hit, Jimmy and I formed little folk groups together, along with our friends, Ames Arnold and David DeHuff. Basically, we taught each other how to play along the way. Then, in the span of five years, from 1964 to 1969, the country slid into (contrived) cultural chaos. And, tracking right along with our pop culture, Jimmy “graduated” from singing folk songs to singing lead in a rock band. His new heroes were Jimmy Hendrix and Mick Jagger. He threw himself completely into the rock life style; and died of a heroin overdose in 1969 at the age of 20. Jimmy was an extremely talented and creative guy. And he was witty and funny! So, of all the songs I’ve ever written, “Ode to Jimmy” was the most difficult to write. It took me decades to even begin to understand what happened to our culture and nation during the 60’s! And I was a university professor! And how do you write a song about such a tragedy? I suppose Jimmy was just “collateral damage,” like my cousin, Lt. Reinhold Karlstrom, who was killed in Vietnam by a “stray bullet,” and so many thousands, perhaps millions, of others….
Following “Ode to Jimmy” lyrics (below), I also include my very first song; “Why Should It Be” (1964)…. because Jimmy, who was an excellent poet even as a very young teenager, wrote the middle verses of the song. Yes, Jimmy wrote the brilliantly precocious verses beginning with “I ask these questions to the world”… and concluding with “why can’t he find his God and begin a life again.” You see, his father was a Christian preacher. And yes, he was a far better poet than I would ever be. For our own government to destroy a life such as Jimmy Isenberg’s is so unconscionable, and so unconstitutional, it is unspeakable. But then THEY also killed JFK, RFK, and MLK in the 1960’s and went on to exterminate 3,000 innocents on 9/11/2001. So it MUST be spoken now. In order to try to fix it before it is too late.
Some previously unheralded effects (collateral damage) of the Tavistock/CIA contrived 60’s counterculture and drug revolution
Ode to Jimmy* (by Eric Karlstrom, July, 2004)
Well, Jimmy was a tall and a skinny, funny-lookin’ kid
He and I was best friends in the 2nd grade
We was always cuttin’ up and givin’ our teacher fits
But he was in that purple reader all the way*
By the time that we grew up to high school age
He’d read most of Steinbeck and was writing poetry
And he was playing’ on the football team
And pickin’ folk songs with Ames and Dave and me
Then one summer day my family moved out west
I had to say goodbye to all my childhood friends
But a few years later I set out to hitchhiking
From Flagstaff back to Arlington
There I found Jimmy lookin’ all pale and weak and drawn
He was singing’ lead now in a rock and roll band
And I watched him stick a needle in his arm
Like his hero, that other Jimmy, was doing’ then
Then I spent a few days at my aunt and uncle’s house
Re-visiting my second family
Seemed they were all health and busy and livin’ well
He was high up in the CIA
A little bit later I heard that Jimmy died
OD’ed on the bathroom floor
The word was that he’d really tried
To clean up and straighten out once more
Well, those crazy times never made much sense to me
The war, the drugs, and all the casualties
It’s only lookin’ back now that finally I begin to see
Things were not at all the way that they were said to be
It was war for drugs and drugs for war
It was all big profits for those Wall Street Banks
It was CIA agents dealin’ heroin
To our soldiers in Vietnam
It was stuffin’ white powder from Laos into body bags
They could hide 50 lbs inside each man
That’s how they shipped the stuff back to America
And how it ended up in Jimmy’s veins
Now I wonder if the ones who shipped those drugs
Ever had to spend a day in jail
Or if those Wall Street war lords
Ever lost a night of sleep or missed a meal
But it seems the justice system here is broken now
And it’s the criminals that rule
But I reckon they’ll still have to face a higher law
And a judge that can’t be bought or fooled
And gazing now into these mysteries
How our lives are wagered, sold, and spent
But as these years go drifting by
I sometimes miss my childhood friend
Well, Jimmy was a tall and a skinny funny-lookin’ kid
He and I was best friends in the 2nd grade
We was always cuttin’ up and givin’ our teacher fits
But he was in that purple reader all the way.**
*This song is recorded on my “Reflections” CD and is available at www.erickarlstrom.com
**In elementary school at that time, students were assigned different colored reading materials, ranging from least to most advanced student abilities. Purple was the most advanced level.
Why Should It Be?* (Eric Karlstrom, 1964, ninth grade, with Jimmy Isenburg)
Why should it be that all men die?
what is the reason that life goes by?
Is it to find the purpose of life?
Or to help others in times of strife?
Is it to find the meaning of truth?
Or just to exist beyond our youth?
I ask these questions to the world
to parent and priest and king
They seem to know and not to know
They seem to know but answer not a thing.
Why should it be that man must hate man?
Why must one’s nation wage war on another’s land?
Why should it be that man must sin?
Why can’t he find his God and begin a life again?
The answers escape me at least at this time
but maybe by living some clues will be mine.
* This song is also recorded on my “Reflections” CD and is available from www.erickarlstrom.com.
My (2004) Song Response to Operation 9/11:
My song response to 9/11 was written with a musical friend/university colleague. This was our adaptation of a very old bluegrass standard called “The White House Blues.” In other words, we re-wrote the words to fit the new political realities. This entire website fills in the details of Operation 9/11 and proves that among other things, this was just the most dramatic of a whole series of state-sponsored, false-flag, synthetic terror events. And these synthetic terror events continue to this day in order to deceive and terrorize the domestic population.
White House Blues*
1) King George is in the White House pushin’ folks around
Cheney’s in the back seat, polishin’ up the crown
We’re goin’ down, we’re goin’ down
2) Bush II is in the White House, just passing tax reforms
Givin’ trillions to the rich and stealin’ from the poor
Don’t blink your eyes, he’ll sell the store
3) Corporations and the Pentagon cookin’ up the wars
Condi’s in the State House sayin’ fuck you to the world
We’ve been neo-conned, we been neo-conned.
4) Poppy Bush and Baby Bush and the party of God
That’s spelled G for guns and O for oil and D for drugs
They gave us 9-11, it was an inside job
5) Georgie Bush is in the White House, spreadin’ fear across the land
He’s tearin’ up our Bill of Rights ‘bout as fast as he can
This war on terror is just a scam
6) Collin’s at the UN just showin’ diagrams
can’t you see those weapons just scattered ‘cross the land
He’s makin’ deals, he’s shakin hands
7) Rummy’s in the desert, got blood on his hands
Wolfie’s at the World Bank makin’ new demands
We’ll take your oil, you can keep the sand
8) We got Abu Graib in the Middle East, Guantanamo down south
Congress got that Patriot Act just shoved on down its mouth T
hey took our constitution and threw it out
9) Karl Rove is in the White House, they say he’s Bush’s brain
with all his corporate buddies and their voting machines
We cast our votes, they wipe ‘em clean
10) Neo-Nazis stole the White House, now their shootin’ for the world
with torture and police states and pre-emptive war
the Fourth Reich’s here, in America
* This song is featured on the “Bluegrass Conspiracy” CD and is available by contacting the web host or www.erickarlstrom.com.