My Man

My first “celebrity” crush was on Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Cree singer/songwriter with a very exotic look, a distinctive vibrato and a haunting repertoire. In my teens I would go to see her perform at the Gaslight every time she played, night after night, sitting at the first table right by the stage. One night I was chatting up the owner in the back when she came out to start her set. She stopped and called out: “Where’s Albi?” I don’t know how she knew my name but that remains one of my most cherished memories. I wrote this song for her (although, of course, she never heard it). At the time, I was singing with two of my closest Rail friends, Marty Bresnick and Jake Koenig (occasionally Dave Seader would join us on drums). We sang mostly folk tunes but included a few of my songs. When I set about arranging this song I complained to Marty (who was, after all, studying music seriously) why was I doing all the arranging. He gave me an indignant look (something which he was really good at), snatched up the lyrics and stormed out of my room to my mom’s Steinway and came back a half hour later with a vocal arrangement, which you can hear, slightly modified, in this recording.

My Man

Sitting alone with the tune I have known
And the babe I have born
Crying out for a strange man
A man who will stand with a glass in his hand
And his head bent unknown
In this land all alone

(cho) Maybe you’ve seen my man
You’d know him, he’s an Indian
Maybe you’ve helped his hand
Maybe you’ve fought for the rights to his land
Maybe you’ve asked this callous land
To wake up and realize
Maybe you’ve seen my man and closed your eyes

He didn’t want much, just the cool earth to touch
And the seeds for to sow
And the waters to flow
But on deserts and hills and where rivers lie still
He finds himself living
On the land that you give him

(cho)

Oh say can you see Sandy Creek, Wounded Knee
The white man’s disgrace
To the Indian race
For when one makes a stand for his family and land
Just who is the savage
And who is the man

(cho)

He was dragged through the door and dropped down on my floor
And the deputy said
That’s another one dead
You once used guns and lies now you’re more civilized
You have learned how to kill
Just by closing your eyes

(cho)