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Beep! Beep! Outta the Way! Lyric Video!

In the year of our Ford…

Car maker, industrialist, and noted anti-semite Henry Ford hated the jazz music that was popular in the late teens and twenties. And like most things he hated he figured jazz’s popularity was due to a Jewish conspiracy. Ford’s paper, The Dearborn Independent, printed weekly anti-Jewish essays for 91 straight weeks. Those essays were popular in Germany in the 1930s which is not a ringing endorsement of one’s values.

Two of those essays centered on jazz music and how it was immoral, corrupting “moron music” that was being forced on American by Jewish song trusts out to make money and ruin the country from within.

So to make fun of Ford for this insane belief—and to remind everyone what a jerk he was about it—I wrote him a 1920s-style jazz song. Enjoy!

Videos from The American Songbook: Redacted!

All the vids in one place!

Since the release of The American Songbook: Redacted studio album back in October I’ve been working on videos for the songs, with the goal of eventually putting them together with introductions and wraparound material from the live show for a complete visual album. In the meantime I thought, ”wouldn’t it be great if there were a place where all the released videos were nicely organized so people could easily enjoy them?”

So I did that! It’s right here! I’ll add to this post as new videos come out. Enjoy!

Beep! Beep! Outta the Way!

Henry Ford, the car guy, was so revered that he offered his opinions on subjects outside of the auto industry. To that end, he bought the Dearborn Independent to disseminate his views, including his hatred of the new popular music “jazz” that the kids were listening and dancing to. And like everything Henry Ford hated, he blamed it on Jewish people.

So, to make fun of him for his dislike of jazz, and to remind everyone what a dick he was about it, I wrote him this jazz song. Enjoy!

Plug Your Ears and Sing!

Stephen Foster was one of America’s first songwriting superstars, and a lot of his songs were written for the minstrel shows of the 1850s, since they were the predominant form of popular entertainment in the 19th Century. We don’t learn much about that history, or the history of racism in the U.S., and with several states enacting laws banning the teaching of divisive concepts, we’re ensuring that the next generation will learn even less.

So that’s what I wrote my Foster-style song about: people being so uncomfortable with history they’d rather it not be taught at all. Some people would prefer you just Plug Your Ears and Sing!

The Ballad of Lou Pearlman

Fraudsters and con artists are as ingrained in U.S. history as robber barons, pioneers, inventors, and innovators. In a country that celebrates outside-the-box thinkers, sometimes people think outside the box of what’s legal. They’re the flipside of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet (more about Henry Ford soon).

So when it came time to pick an American fraudster to profile in The American Songbook: Redacted (let’s do AS:R from here on out) I had plenty to choose from. Madoff? Boring. Ponzi? Fascinating! But there was one guy who did something with the money he conned that no one else did. He gave us boybands!

Behold, The Ballad of Lou Pearlman!

Corporations Are People Too!

I wanted to make sure there was at least one really peppy, uplifting number in AS:R so I took inspiration from some of the sunshine pop of the 60s and 70s, songs like Age of Aquarius, Up With People, Kids are People Too! Subject-wise I wanted to tackle a concept that has long fascinated and aggravated me: corporate personhood.

With the help of my good friend Dan Pavelich, who did the amazing illustrations and character design, I came up with this bubbly, overly-optimistic tune Corporations Are People Too!

The Invisible Hand

In addition to history I wanted to examine some fundamental myths we have as a culture, and one of the big ones for us is that the free market will create the best of all possible worlds. From Reagan to tech-bro libertarians there is an unquestioned (and unprovable) belief that letting everyone pursue their own self interest will result in an efficient and just distribution of resources.

This concept is summed up in Scottish philosopher Adam Smith’s metaphor of “the invisible hand.” As in: the market will be guided as if by an invisible hand to the best possible outcomes.

To me “the invisible hand” sounds less like a metaphor for capitalism and more like a villainous organization in a James Bond movie, so I decided to write a James Bond-style movie theme on the subject. I’m incredibly proud of the arrangement I did for the song on the album and absolutely blown away by the visuals my friends Peggy & Steve put together for the video.

Cue voiceover by Don LaFontaine: “In a world where events are controlled by an unseeable force, one man… must fight… to make fun of it all…”

The Invisible Hand

The Great Disappointment of 1844

The end of the world, specifically people interpreting the Book of Revelation to try to predict it, is an idea deeply embedded in the American psyche, and I don’t think we truly appreciate how much it informs a lot of people’s worldview. Growing up my dad watched a lot of evangelical Christian shows and read a lot of books like The Late Great Planet Earth, that tied current events to various Bible prophesies.

Everyone who’s ever predicted the end of the world has one thing in common: they’ve all been wrong. Including the time in 1844 when so many people were convinced the world was going to end within the year that when it didn’t it was called The Great Disappointment.

And since “Great Disappointment” makes a great title for an emo song, not to mention that waiting for a Second Coming has the angsty teen vibes of waiting for your parents to pick you up a the movies, I wrote an emo song about it.

The Great Disappointment of 1844

The People That Were Already Here

Another concept that looms large in the American personality is the Frontier Myth, the idea that America is an open land of opportunity where rugged individuals will succeed if they are strong and have the grit. While that’s a lovely idea it completely overlooks the fact that there were tons of people already living in the American west so it wasn’t exactly wide open, available land.

Stories and songs about cowboys and western adventurers were hugely popular in America, from the river towns of the Midwest to the cities back east. So to examine this myth, and to bump it up against the reality of western expansion, I wrote a western song. I even played a lap steel!

The video came out on a bank holiday in mid-October, now known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and the background picture is one I actually took down in Marfa, Texas!

Please enjoy The People That Were Already Here

Satanic Panic

In the 80s & 90s there was a moral panic in which accusations of ritual satanic abuse got so out of hand people were convicted of crimes on no evidence and entire communities turned against each other. It got thrown into overdrive by a debunked memoir called Michelle Remembers, and fueled by sensationalist coverage everywhere from Geraldo to 60 minutes.

Soon people were looking for the devil everywhere, including in heavy metal music, which makes heavy metal the perfect genre with which to satirize this ridiculousness.

It’s a subject that needs to be ridiculed because people are still throwing accusations of devils and demons today (I’m looking at you Lauren Boebert,) so I implore you no to forget the  Satanic Panic

Plug Your Ears and Sing!

Plug Your Ears and Sing!

old timey style photo of person plugging their earsDid you know the state song of Florida, “Old Folks at Home,” was written for a minstrel show? That’s not even an April Fool’s joke, that’s the dog’s honest truth!

So for this year’s April 1st festivities, I figured why not try to get Florida to replace their outdated song with the Stephen Foster-style song “Plug Your Ears and Sing!” from my latest show and album? Even better, my song is about being so uncomfortable with the history of racism in the U.S. that people don’t want it to be taught in schools in places like… Florida! (and Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, oh there are too many to mention)

So this year instead of swapping the salt and the sugar, or putting the Rice Krispies in the Cherrios box, let’s lobby the state of Florida to get rid of the song that had people “still longin’ for the old plantation” and replace it with Plug Your Ears and Sing! It perfectly sums up what their government wants teachers to do when the subject of racism comes up so it should be a slam dunk.

You can even use the handy poster at the bottom of this page for your socials!

Either way, enjoy the song and video, I bought a cheap wig and a set of 6 fake mustaches for it!

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The Ballad of Lou Pearlman–Lyric Video

The latest video from The American Songbook: Redacted is up!

The song is inspired by my fascination with fraudsters–from Ponzi to Theranos and everything in between. Our culture’s idolization of financial success mixed with our belief that you can always reinvent yourself and “fake it ‘til you make it” (a phrase that originated in a multi-level marketing scheme) makes the U.S. fertile ground for schemers, charlatans, and con artists.

But when it came time to choose which con-artist to sing about in my show, the deciding factor was that Lou Pearlman did something with the money that he stole that no one else did: he gave us boy bands.

Friends, I give you  “The Ballad of Lou Pearlman!”

Corporations Are People Too!

Corporations Are People Too!

Here’s my new lyric video for Corporations Are People Too! is out! It’s the peppiest, grooviest, upliftingest track from my latest album The American Songbook: Redacted, and the video is a collaboration with Dan Pavelich, a multi-talented artist and good friend.

What on Earth does Corporations Are People Too! even mean?

Remember when Mitt Romney said, “corporations are people, my friend”? He was referring to the concept of corporate personhood, which can make sense when needing an entity to sign a contract, but gets weird when the Supreme Court says their personhood entitles them to religious beliefs.

So I decided to make fun of this concept the best way I know how: a comedy song!

Inspired by the sunshine pop of the 60s and 70s, I’m really happy with the way this arrangement came together. And sticking with that era as inspiration, I asked Dan to create illustrations in the style of Hanna Barbara, Schoolhouse Rock, and a lot of the other stuff we Gen-Xers grew up with. He totally nailed the style and I couldn’t be happier with this video.

I hope you like it, and check out the other tunes on the album!

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The Great Disappointment of 1844 Lyric Video

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“The People Who Were Already Here” Lyric Video

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Satanic Panic Lyric Video

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Catching Rays (on the Fire Escape) Quarantine Music Video!

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Driving With Grandpa—Live Album Lyric Video

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Armenians in Media—Live Album Lyric Video

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Live in Lausanne!

The Invisible Hand — Lyric Video!

The Invisible Hand! Lyric video released!

I don’t know if Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith meant for his metaphor of “The Invisible Hand” to sound as creepy as it does, but to me it sounds like a criminal organization in a James Bond movie. So when I wanted to satirize the concept of the invisible hand in my show and album The American Songbook: Redacted, I figured the best way to do it would be in the style of a James Bond title sequence!

Musically I’m really proud of the arrangement on the album, I did my best to capture the campy swagger of classic 60s/70s James Bond movies and those iconic John Barry soundtracks. My good friends Peggy O’Brien & Steven Rosenthal, both funny and talented filmmakers, offered to put together a title sequence style video for my live show, and when I saw how amazing the video turned out I knew I had to make it into a lyric video.

It’s the 4th lyric video from The American Songbook: Redacted, after Satanic Panic, The People Who Were Already Here, and The Great Disappointment of 1844. I have more coming, including some other collaborations that I’m really excited about.

Until then, enjoy The Invisible Hand!

Accepted to the Edmonton Fringe!

First Fest Is On The Calendar!

One of my goals for The American Songbook: Redacted is to take the show to performing arts festivals and I just secured my first slot! It’s in the Edmonton Fringe Festival, one of the top 5 fringe festivals in the world and the largest, longest-running fringe theater festival in North America. Not a bad start!

Fringe theater festivals are an amazing experience, with theater companies from all over the world descending on a city and filling it with creative energy and a variety of diverse and unique performances. I won’t have to explain to anyone that my show is different from what they’re used to because things at a fringe festival are supposed to be different from what people are used to. You do juggling while explaining particle physics? Great! Shakespearean mime? Awesome! Comedy songs satirizing U.S. history and American culture? Perfect!

The festival runs from August 17–23, 2023, and I’ll update with dates and venue information when it becomes available. I also have applications in with a few more festivals so hopefully this is the first of, if not many, at least a pleasant handful. See you next year, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!

Great Disappointment Lyric Video!

Watch The Great Disappointment Lyric Video

The Great Disappointment is a thing that actually happened, when a Bible scholar convinced thousands of people that the 2nd Coming was going to happen in 1843 or 1844. Dates came and went, and the final, for sure, no-doubt-about-it date of October 22, 1844 passed with nothing happening.

Some people lost faith, some people redoubled their faith, and some people said that something did happen that day but no one saw it. Either way, “The Great Disappointment” makes a good title for an emo rock song, so that’s what I set out to make. Another band uses the name for a song that’s not ostensibly about the historical event so I added “of 1844” to be specific and differentiate.

From The American Songbook: Redacted! Available on bandcamp, spotify, Apple Music, and limited CDs available here at our online store!

It’s heeeeere! New album out today!!

The American Songbook: Redacted is out!

It’s a little after midnight here on the East Coast of the U.S. and the new album is now officially available through just about every streaming service! There’s Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and the most artist-friendly of them all: Bandcamp!

It’s even Bandcamp Friday today, which means bandcamp waives the artist’s transaction fees so pick it up today if you can. And, little insider information: I upload higher quality masters to bandcamp than I do to the other streaming services. All the major services ask for things to be 16-bit, 44.1 kHz digital audio but I upload 24-bit, 48 kHz masters to bandcamp and then they convert it to all the digital formats you can download, including some lossless formats like FLAC, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, and more!

OK, that got nerdy and technical, but that’s sort of on brand for me, is it not?

The important thing is that the album is now out in the world! I’m super excited for you all to hear it, I’m really happy with what it says and the way it says it. Musically it was a blast to play with so many different genres, and it was a rewarding challenge to dig into some tougher topics in order to try to say something about the world today.

I even pressed 100 copies on CD, they’re hand numbered and available at the online shop. It’s a great addition to any record collection!

The big record release show is Wednesday, Oct. 12 here in NYC and it’s streaming live so you can watch from anywhere! Join me at Caveat, a beautiful nightclub on the Lower East Side, 9:30 pm. It’s gonna be fun.

OK, I’m gonna go to bed now. No wait, after I embed some music players below!

Pre-orders live for The American Songbook: Redacted CD!

Order today, ships Friday!

My online store is now accepting pre-orders for the CD version of The American Songbook: Redacted! And it’s even on sale for only $12 for the rest of the month! Shipping is $5 flat rate for everything in your order so if you wanted to pick up The Green L.E.D.s debut album or maybe the Rob P. Digital Box Set, it’s still only $5 to ship it all!

The album officially comes out this Friday, October 7, and if you order by Thursday morning, Oct 6, I may just send it out a day early! There are only 100 pressed, hand numbered, so don’t wait too long! And I’ll also include a bandcamp download code so you can grab a digital copy of the album without having to dust off your old CD player 🙂

I’m really excited about this album, it’s very me, in that I like a lot of different styles of music, like weird stories from American history, and love making fun of the stupider parts of American culture. Be the first (and most likely only person ever) on your block to own it!

See the CD packaging in action! 👇

@robprocks The record showed up in time for the record release party! #musician #music #cd ♬ original sound – Rob P.

Pre-Sales for The American Songbook: Redacted are live!

It’s (almost) here!

Screen cap of album on Apple MusicThe American Songbook: Redacted is now available for purchase! On Apple Music at least. Pre-sales have begun on the platform from Cupertino and if you buy in advance not only will the album download the instant it’s available on October 7, you’ll get to download the preview track “Corporations Are People Too!” right away!

I am really excited for you all to hear this new album. The songs are inspired by oddities of U.S. history and American culture and I got to play with a bunch of different styles of music. The preview track is Sunshine Pop, like Up With People or The Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away!” There’s heavy metal, disco, emo, 90s boyband pop, jazz, western music and more.

The album will be available on all platforms on October 7, and there will be a limited number of physical CDs for sale right here through my online store. In fact, the only way to get the original cover is on the physical CD. Check out the 2 versions below:

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See what’s missing?

“Original Cast Recording” will only appear on the physical CD cover because the streaming services are really picky about what kind of text you put on the cover. The album is comprised of songs from my solo show, solo meaning the entire original cast is me! Get it?

They did not.

I even had a chat conversation with customer service where they asked and I explained, but they said the rules were that the artist name had to be more prominent than any other text on the cover aside form the title. So my cute little joke didn’t make it to the streaming services.

But the music did! And you can get a track before anyone else if you pre-order on Apple music! If you’re more of a Spotify person make sure you follow me there and you’ll be notified as soon as the album is available. And bandcamp is always a good place to get the album digitally, it’s one of the more artist-friendly sites out there so give it a look.

And check back here (or on socials) on October 7th, I have some lyric videos ready to debut on release day!

The American Songbook: Redacted studio album!

The American Songbook: Redacted—The Original Cast Recording?

The American Songbook: Redacted—The Studio Album?

I haven’t figured out the official title but I do know that an album of fully-arranged studio versions of the songs from my new show will be released on CD and streaming this fall! The official album release show will be Wednesday, October 12 at Caveat, and it will be live streamed! The show is going to be fun and I’m really excited that these songs will be able to take the spotlight on a studio album.

I’ve been hard at work getting the arrangements together and I’m having so much fun with it. It may be the most “me” album I’ve done because it’s full of songs about lesser known episodes in American history and it plays around with so many different genres. There’s jazz, disco, heavy metal, Western, emo, and—possibly my favorite arrangement of the bunch—a James Bond style theme song on which I do my best to channel the vocal style of the great Shirley Bassey, who sang Goldfinger, Diamonds are Forever, and Moonraker.

I’m excited to continue to develop the show and plan to take it to a few other cities and theater festivals in the next year so stay tuned on that front. I’ll be posting a couple of lyric videos starting in late September with a tentative official album release date of Friday, October 7.

This will be my 7th full studio album (along with my live album, an EP, and The Green L.E.D.s album I released in 2021) and I have a strong feeling that it might be my best yet. I can’t wait for you to hear it!

Moving Sale!

We’ve moved!

Hopefully you didn‘t notice a thing, but we moved the entire RobPRocks website (and all subdomains and email) to a new hosting service! We made the move at the very beginning of June and we were so happy everything went relatively smoothly we decided to have a moving sale at our online store!

Through the end of June, 2022 you can use the coupon code “Moving10” for 10% off every item in the store!

Oh man, I’ve been meaning to make the move for a while now. Every year when my old hosting service would get renewed I’d begrudgingly re-up because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of moving. But they weren’t a great service. Their server software was old, it was a pain to get the SSL certificate renewed smoothly, and everything about them felt out of date.

So poke around the site, I think everything made the trip and is right where it should be. Plus I got some new stuff, like the promo page for my show The American Songbook: Redacted! Enjoy the new digs and the sale!

Beep! Beep! Outta the Way!

A little song about Henry Ford

We all know Henry Ford as the car guy, the man who adopted the assembly line, made affordable cars, and whose company changed transportation and manufacturing, but did you know he had some strong opinions about music?

He hated the popular music of the teens and twenties, what was starting to be called jazz. He thought it was crude, vulgar, a bad influence on young people, and he blamed its popularity on a Jewish conspiracy. He blamed a lot of things on the Jews. So many, in fact, that he bought a newspaper and had them publish a weekly anti-Jewish column. It ran for 91 weeks.

Musically the old man preferred the old timey music he found wholesome so he heavily promoted square dancing and fiddle contests. Did you take square dancing in grade school gym class? Thank Henry Ford.

So I figured the best way to make fun of all of this ridiculousness would be to write Henry Ford a 1920s-style jazz song. It’s featured in my new show The American Songbook: Redacted!

The American Songbook: Rescheduled!

Timing is everything, right? Yesterday, the day before the big show, I felt pretty achy, tired, and had a slight fever, so I took a home Covid test and it was positive. That of course meant I couldn’t perform The American Songbook: Redacted, the show I’ve been working on for about 5 months, tonight at Caveat.

Thankfully the wonderful people at Caveat were very understanding and we’ve rescheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 9:30. All advance tickets for the live show and the live stream will be honored on that date.

So far the symptoms have been mild and I hope that trend continues. If the worst thing that happens is I have to reschedule my show I guess that’s acceptable. I’m really excited to get this new material up in front of people, I’m really happy with it and the songs have gone over well when I’ve worked on them at The Odd Rock Comedy Hour at QED over the last couple of months.

Speaking of which, I hope to be back and virus free in time for this month’s Odd Rock Comedy Hour on April 23, which will be more than 10 days after my initial symptoms from Monday night. I’ll test before the show and if I can’t make it I’ll find a very capable replacement and the show will be in good hands

Take care of yourselves out there and I hope to fist-bump you at a show soon!

RobP

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