A Review of the Rod MacDonald CD
by Rod MacDonald
Wind River Records
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/04
Rod MacDonald is an exceptionally talented and valuable social
commentator--in his case, employing songs as his vehicle of
transmission rather than a blog, book, newspaper column or television show. A
long ago Newsweek reporter and even
longer ago law school graduate, this former New York City (now
Floridian) folkie's latest release is brimming with offerings that
shine light and meaning on current and historical, remembered and
forgotten, people and events.
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
send me an email message
Known for such past signature songs as "The Death Of Victor Jara,"
"American Jerusalem," "Timothy," "The Way To Calvary" and "Who Built
The Bomb That Blew Down Oklahoma City," MacDonald continues his deft
touch with insightful and nuanced cuts about the 9/11 terrorists, the
Columbine shootings, capital punishment Texas-style, a Vincent Van Gogh
painting, numerous foreign deeds of questionable morality involving the
government of the United States and a look at the bombardier of the
plane that flew over Hiroshima in 1945.
But this is not a concept-style album with a primary theme as he also
includes a number of love songs, delves into marital abuse, takes a jab
at Disneyworld, provides a quizzical but charming baseball tale and
also a salute to the music of Eire.
Due to its scope, the most arresting song is "For The Good Of America."
MacDonald twines JFK's assassination by a very questionable marksman,
the fabrication of the Tonkin Gulf incident that provided the cachet to
begin sending thousands upon thousands of U.S. troops to Vietnam, CIA
assistance in the assassination of democratically elected Chilean
President Salvador Allende and the resulting murders of uncountable
'leftists,' and, finally, the arms-for-hostages deal that resulted in
Iran releasing U.S. hostages soon after the election of the late Ronald
Reagan. He closes this most rhythmic song:
"...So remember sometime in your future
"My Neighbors In Delray" begins with the mundane day-to-day
of the 9/11 Florida contingent. But rather than traveling the
simplistic, kneejerk and jingoistic path in response to the horrors of
because he's a much too mature and talented songwriter, simply keeps
asking wouldn't it be good to know what God thinks of the hijacker's
actions. Then, he concludes:
some pretender will want to be your leader one day
first he'll tell you how all your votes just disappeared
then step up to the microphone and give himself away when he says
For the good of America just forget it
'cause it's time to move on
but the truth is, you know it when you hear it
their lips are moving but they're doing you wrong"
"...but if my neighbors in Delray are in Paradise today
"Video Game" skewers rather than frontally assaults that
violence-depicting industry. MacDonald describes a player: "...if it
was real he'd be insane, but it was just a video game" and "(He) hit a
hospital by accident, took out the radio tower's blinking lights, he
pretended it was Belgrade but it was a video game." MacDonald later
sings: "you talk about your freedom as if weapons were your wealth."
it would very much surprise me
'Love thy neighbor,' the Bible says
'God is great,' the prophets say
don't you really know what God will say
to my neighbors in Delray"
"137 Executions (Not One Innocent Man)" IS a directly-aimed blast at
George W. Bush's track record while governor of Texas. It asks
how he and the entire system could not find even one death row inmate
worthy of commutation at worse,
or determined innocent at best. In light of numerous investigations and
across the country, especially in Illinois, where death sentences have
been revoked and, in some cases, actual innocence determined, MacDonald
"...Tell me, how does it feel to have blood on your hands?..."
"The Man Who Dropped The Bomb On Hiroshima" surprisingly doesn't
really come with a fixed point of view. In it, it's revealed that the
military withheld the information from the fliers about the nature of
the payload. The bombardier believes his actions were appropriate but adds:
"Someday, when I meet my maker
The rocking and ironic-ending "Dr. Gachet," is an enjoyable
history about the ownership, viewing availability and financial value
of one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings. Also worthy of mention is
MacDonald's touching paean to his wife, "You Who Sleep Beside Me."
I'll know if my one big thing was right..."
This is a release with so much to offer and rightfully deserves to be heard by the widest of audiences.
Rod MacDonald, on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica is backed by
Mark Dann on bass and harony vocals; Steve Erikssen on acoustic and
electric guitars and harmony vocals; Bernie Shanahan on piano,
keyboards and harmony vocals; Craig Harris on percussion; Francis
Rovelli on harmony vocals; and Susan McKeown on harmony vocals.
- You Who Sleeps Beside me (3:23)
- The Man Who Dropped The Bomb On Hiroshima (3:52)
- Just One Kiss (3:11)
- My Neighbors In Delray (5:00)
- Dr. Gachet (4:59)
- Video Game (3:34)
- When Angel Gets Blue (3:16)
- We Got It Good & That Ain't Bad (2:47)
- Mickey World (4:17)
- Dance By Lightning (3:47)
- Ireland, Ireland (4:56) Rod MacDonald & Steve Eriksson
- 137 Executions (Not One Innocent Man) (3:21)
- The Little Girls Love To Dance (3:02)
- Willie Jean (5:25) Hoyt Axton
- Now You're Talkin' Baby (4:27)
- For The Good Of America (5:25)
- Mojo & The St. Luke's Flukes (7:41)
All songs by Rod MacDonald, except as indicated.
Copyright © 1998-2015 Kevin & Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews. All rights reserved.
Ownership, copyright and title of this folk music CD review belongs
McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferable or assignable
to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use,
copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify
or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms,
Conditions and Disclaimer" section on my web site for additional information
about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.
Send inquiries to: send me an email message.
Return to Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk
Music CD Reviews home page.
To return to the last web page you visited, click the "Back"
button that appears immediately below: