"The Bohemian Mama Blues" Oh the answers to her questions have always hung like the stars That dangle responsibility right over where you are But she means as well as anybody, she's just trying to save us all Still she claims she's the Queen of Nothing when she has conquered my heart Oh I blow her kisses, but she's too busy listening to her call Oh my baby she's got the Bohemian Mama Bohemian Mama blues Oh the children are starving all over the world She takes her Saturdays to help us forget about the war She says while we kill and we steal we forget about the poor When a dollar a day has never been worth so much more Oh but the people they keep on walking, my baby she keeps on talking to the floor Oh my baby she's got the Bohemian Mama Bohemian Mama blues Oh we drove out to the ocean and sat for a spell She said, "Sometimes I am not so sure if I am doing so well. I do my best to help but the world cannot tell. Oh my boy if I was the wind this ship would never set sail. Oh I am getting older, my days they do seem shorter than before. Oh what can I do to get out of these blues? These I'm trying as hard as I possibly can blues?” Now the votes are coming in they are crowning a brand new president She says change is good but somehow we're always on the losing end Oh if everybody knew their history they'd see it is just an illusion Change starts with you not with a name punched out or punched in Oh but everybody waves. It'll all be okay in the end Oh my baby she's got the Bohemian Mama Bohemian Mama Blues Oh what can we do to get out of these blues? These I am trying as hard as I possibly can These I am trying as hard as I possibly can These I am trying as hard as I possibly can blues
“The Bohemian Mama Blues” began on a porch, like most of my songs always have. I was visiting my friend Clay in Wilmington, North Carolina, having a beer and a smoke one summer back when we were still in college, still embracing our freedom from the universe of adult responsibility, the world of facing fifty hour work weeks just to cover the bills and then using up our weekends to merely recover, to remember our true selves. We could breathe easy then, you could say. Sunsets, long drives, and late nights that turned into early sunrise bedtimes were far more common back then. We never worried about time then, like we do now. We had plenty of time. We were just getting started.
That same summer one of our dear friends, Miss Amanda Baker, was on hiatus from college and spending the entirety of it at Carolina beach. She had spent some time with Clay herself, and the rest, she was skirting around from couch to couch, porch to porch, wherever and whoever would allow her to crash for the night. She was doing whatever it took to spend time with her true love, the Beaches.
I was deep in a Bob Dylan phase at that time (I think I always will be), absorbing all the vocabulary of his earliest albums, and so, without much premonition, I thought out loud in conversation with Clay, “Bakes is a real Bohemian Mama throwing caution to the wind and living and loving and embracing her freedom, her love for the beaches.” And to this day, not much has changed. She still loves the beaches.
That was the genesis for the title of the song. I spent the next month trying to understand what a “Bohemian Mama” might truly seek from the world and what a Bohemian Mama might mean to me. What I found was more of my friends; the lovers, the fighters, the poets, the activists, the naturalists, the ones with only the best of intentions, the ones seeking love and seeking to be loved. And I also found a bit of myself.
I discovered that all my favorite people were Bohemian Mamas. We were all seeking true love in some shape or form and, even though we were always unsure of it as the youthful usually are, we were fighting for it. And we were also fighting against Time. And we still are. As we always shall.
Time, man, it seems so immeasurable when we experience something like a sunset at the beach, or share a beverage and a profound conversation with a friend, or immature conversation with a friend, or when we take a silent drive through the countryside or mountainside, or when we hear that perfect song, or when we kiss. Time is immeasurable when we love. When we take a moment to breathe it all in. To savor.
And that’s really what this song is about. It’s not about politics. It’s about learning to savor Love. It is a Love Song. And I would like to argue that every song, every narrative, every debate, political or domestic, is a love song to some thing or some one because I see two love songs inside the B-mama Blues, but we’ll save that conversation for a future beer that you and I share.
This song is a love song to all of my friends who fight for a better world, for a better day, for someone right in front of them or someone deep in the sea of strangers that deserve better. Remember that you are loved regardless of the distances you feel you must travel to save us. You are not lacking. You do not have to save us to earn our love or respect. You already have that. But keep fighting. Your will, your heart, is why you are kept so close to our thoughts.
It has been almost 8 years since I wrote this song, but my friend Graham gave me these words that I stole for this song and that still ring true to this day. They are bittersweet, but age and honest friendships have painted them with more hope and urgency.
“Oh I am getting older, my days they do seem shorter than before”
To Clay, to Graham, to Emily B., to Amanda “Bakes”, to Ben, for providing me the inspiration, friendship, and perspective to write a song I am so adamantly proud of. You were all in my thoughts as I wrote this song and every single time I sing it. You still are.