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Do Your Work

by The Michael Character

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Carmen thumbnail
Carmen Everyone should book The Michael Character for shows if they can ! Fantastic live performances, meaningful lyrics, great guy to meet, and the music is always a pleasure to hear.

Support this artist. Book him for your shows. He deserves it and you won't be disappointed. Favorite track: Confessions of a Deeply Ashamed Recovering Misogynist (or, the Feminism Song).
Will Henriksen
Will Henriksen thumbnail
Will Henriksen James is a true hero. Listen to this. Go see him play. Just do it. Favorite track: Evening Thoughts & Feelings.
liamwassmer thumbnail
liamwassmer I like it and peep show. Favorite track: Radical Folk Singer, Feel-Good Folk Audience.
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Don't call me your "Asian friend" x3 That shit is fucking ignorant If you don't wanna sound like an asshole There's a few things you should never say Like don't fucking ask me WHAT I am or say "Hey! I know a great Japanese food place!" I don't need to hear everything you know About my ancestral homeland so please Take a fucking ticket, get your ass in line With all your 'racially tolerant' friends so you can kiss mine Don't call me your "Asian friend" x3 That shit is fucking ignorant I met a guy named Pete in the diner He tried so very, very hard to present Himself as someone who is comfortable sitting Next to a non-white person (he said) "Ohh my Vietnamese coworker took me Out to a restaurant and I LOVED the catfish! I like to read about the marches in the sixties Because, you know, civil rights and all that" Don't call me your "Asian friend" x3 That shit is fucking ignorant My race is not some bonus that you get when you like me That makes it good of you to want to be my friend If you're proud 'cause there's an Asian name inside your contacts Then fuck you, you're a fossil, and you don't fucking get it Having friends that aren't Caucasian doesn't take away All the racial privileges you benefit from daily And acceptance of that fact is your primary tool For dismantling the racism that makes it cool to say... (Asian friend) Don't call me your "Asian friend" x3 That shit is fucking ignorant 'cause I write songs and I'm a teacher I support local artists and I've got a lot of traits that matter More than the region of my great, great grandparents' origin
I had a reputation in college I went to the parties, and got housed (as in shit-housed) I tried to find somebody To make me feel special For a month or a week or a night or an hour However long it took to get from “I think I love you babe” to “well, there, I came So I guess I’ll see you around And I will find you in my phone Next time I am horny and alone” But no one ever called me slut Except as a weird compliment and I was protected from the scorn of others While the women in my life walked home at night with knives In their pockets for a sense of safety That I took for granted nightly stumblin’ drunk through Cambridge I’m ashamed of all the ways the patriarchy propped me up At the expense of half of the human race, enough is enough And if you’re a man you’d better recognize the way that shit is And though I don’t wanna take up space, please let me finish this bit ‘cause When your culture gives you the privilege to be//romantically reckless Guilt free, shame free You’ll take your weekends and spend them like me Falling in love and pretending to be//in control Of your freewheeling but NOT of your feelings Just “follow your heart” and ignore that you’re dealing with Real human people not just bodies in clothes It’s hardly a mystery why fuckheads like me are alone Oh now I puke a little every time I look back in shame Like “could you maybe just touch it, I’m dyin’ here babe!” I’ve always been part of the problem but I am trying to rectify all of them now So remember… Boys of the world; the girls owe you nothing and Men of the world; the women owe you nothing x8 So all my straight male friends… the next time you write a whiney pop punk song About your shitty ex-girlfriend Remember you’re participating in a long, long, long History of men feeling entitled to Tell a woman what’s right and what is wrong By the standards you’ve set in this world that you think you own In this world we don’t own
I’m in a tie at my desk I’ll be ready soon I’m in my going-out clothes in my bedroom Sittin’ in my brown leather chair from Staples Waiting for a second wind I’m in a hurry oh the night is closing in If I don’t leave pretty soon what will my life have been? 24 years sitting in square room waiting for my life to happen to me But tonight I don’t feel right Haven’t accomplished a single objective This isn’t how a person with real self-respect is I don’t know how to do anything Fun enough to convince me to not just sit here Call up a friend but they’ve gotta be somewhere Scroll through your contacts like the savior is in there You’ll let the sun set on a wasted day ‘Cause you can’t get it together but I’ve gotta say that Tonight I don’t feel right It’s getting’ late oh I’d better just stay in Maybe I could go to bed early awaken All refreshed and ready to go But there are only five episodes left of this online show Still gotta read 300 pages by Wednesday An essay and a unit plan due on the next day Not keeping to the schedule that I made but that’s okay Tomorrow I’ll work twice as hard as should have today
Hammered out the details, computer screen Falling back to thinking about you and all the things that fame does to the people I meet But, My neighbor’s cancer reminds me As he stands on the porch and says "my wife heard you thanks for shoveling" Thanks for shoveling, he reminds me to Be thankful by being kind by making things better than they would be otherwise Yea I wish that people came to my shows and sang my songs But all that vanity is probably misguided and wrong so Be thankful by being nice by acting when your conscience says to not think twice Yea I really wish my music was important to more people But it’s love that really matters and I know that I can be there for you Hammered out the details, computer screen Silent and holdin’ my breath, I worry about death, recalling all the awful things that it could mean I picked my path to take, like some Deist divine Spun my life on some axis and let it fly Now it's just cause and effect and entropy until I die *Chorus* Ohhh now class guilt is gettin’ ya down You know there’s not enough privilege to go around And I never read Capital or Proudhon’s What is Property? No I’m hardly equipped with a cohesive philosophy So what can you do when you feel like an asshole? What can you do when you’re inadvertently exploitative? What can you do when you are not who you’d like to be ideally? What can you do when you’re having a bad day? What can you do when you don’t know what the fuck to say To a friend who’s in need of support or a stranger you encounter while you chill on the porch? Well you could
Do Your Work 02:08
Well I know that you prefer to talk in Thoughtfully constructed arguments But sometimes it’s not your turn to speak And I know that you don’t hear that often You ever wonder if that’s a problem? Why do you think people owe you an explanation when it’s time to listen? Others live with your privilege So the least that you can do is try to understand What it might be like to not be white and not be a straight, middle class cis man (oh yea) Yea the least that you can do is listen Let’s talk about narratives; you own your own, you own your own, you don’t own mine And like, yea you own your own it’s yours that’s fine but you don’t own mine You don’t own his, hers, zers or theirs And you don’t fucking tell me who I am You don’t get to say “but you’ve got a dick!” to a transwoman; she’s not having that shit Like since when am I not the master of my own body About which I get to decide what matches my inner identity There's no room for your thoughts and opinions there And while we're on the topic of what's yours and what's mine My racial identity ain't yours to define "Are you white, are you Asian? Or both? Just decide!" Hey, I've got an idea Go fuck off and die And let's not forget to enhance our awareness Of the needs of our friends who have different impairments Sure let's talk about green architecture for this Occupy camp But be sure you leave space for some wheelchair ramps and A dialogue about income inequality Should not require a degree from university Like the last thing the homeless in American need Is rich college students going "yea it's rough on the streets" So you tell your story I’ll tell mine I’m hapa, middle class, and straight most of the time But I can get into sexy things with boys too And you can fuck right off if that bothers you I’m a cis man and know I gotta take more time To learn how to be a better ally I like mint chocolate chip ice cream in a cup And sometimes dude, I need you to shut the fuck up Look, I’m trying real hard to not be shitty And yea Bruce, it’s hard to be a saint in the city But if you just fess up to some of your crimes The rest will reveal themselves in due time You just gotta be ready to be proved wrong To reflect, improve, apologize and move on So let’s kick this thing off and let's end this song What’s something you do that sucks that you’re gonna work on?
Soliloquists of Sound point out in a song that I quite like That people love when singers get aggressive on the mic But when you’re yelling in their faces with no music at your back Those very same people just stare and feel uncomfortable with that ‘Cause attending a small concert filled with radical folk songs Can make you feel like you’re an activist by just tapping along And you assume the one that’s singing understands what’s going on So you don’t really need to worry about all the shit that’s wrong So go ahead and see that artist play, the one that screams and shouts About a host of social issues that you’re pretty sure you care about But just remember that warm feeling that you get when the songs are sung It’s not sufficient in itself when there’s still work left to be done It’s not sufficient in itself when there’s still work left to be done No feeling alright is not enough when there’s still crime perpetrated


Seriously, do it right now, get started.


released April 3, 2015

All songs written by James Ikeda

Arrangements by the inimitable John Muccino

Engineered, Mixed, & Mastered by Benjamin Greer of Sun Brewed Records

Art by Louis Roe (Squishy Sandwich Art)
The Performers:
Acoustic Guitar/Vocals -- James Ikeda (aka The Michael Character)
Keys -- John Muccino (of River City Extension)
Five-String Violin -- Eva Walsh (of Kingsley Flood)
Clarinet -- Alyssa Kai (of every band you know, basically)
Upright Bass -- Eric "One-Take" Cowan (of Spot Collins)
Mandolin -- Mark Schwaller (of Troll 2)
Tenor Saxophone -- Ori Nevo (of Make It Up)
Trumpet -- Calum Brockie (of Poor Jeremy)
Auxiliary Percussion -- Nathan Leigh (of himself)

Assorted backing vocals/talking: Steve Miller, Eric Cowan, Benjamin Greer, Zoe Depaz, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, all of the beautiful people who came to BV17 early.

Special thanks: Greg McKillop, Steve Miller, Dakota Bahney, Ryan Pratt, Nicole Anderson, Mike (from Sun Brewed), Charlie Stern, Liz Dame, Lawn Care, the Bane Voice crew, all the lovelies of the Bummer City Historical Society (Jenn, Paul, Chris aka Comb-Daddy C, Mike Chen, Kelly, Elise, Dan, Arianna, etc.) and everybody who has ever booked TMC or gone to a show, or listened to a song, or sang along, or hung out, or otherwise supported my music in some way.

If I forgot to include anybody here I'm so so so so so so sorry, please tell me!

Audio Clips:
Track 1 -- Clark & Michael, Episode 9 (CBS)
Tracks 2-4 -- Dave Bazan & David Dark: Unsettled Questions (interview)
Track 6 -- Peep Show, Series 4 Episode 4


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The Michael Character Boston, Massachusetts

It's political music, whatever. Based in Boston, MA. Absolutely willing to drive very far to play for you and five of your vaguely alternative friends in your combination kitchen/laundry room. Hit me up. I'm fully serious. [Covid-19 update: Absolutely willing to livesteam from my living room for you and your hella bored roommates.] ... more

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