Do Your Work

by The Michael Character

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Carmen
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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
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Will Henriksen James is a true hero. Listen to this. Go see him play. Just do it. Favorite track: Evening Thoughts & Feelings.
liamwassmer
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liamwassmer I like it and peep show. Favorite track: Radical Folk Singer, Feel-Good Folk Audience.
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about

Seriously, do it right now, get started.

credits

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)
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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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about

The Michael Character Boston, Massachusetts

Acoustic punk 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.

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Track Name: Don't Call Me Your Asian Friend
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
Track Name: Confessions of a Deeply Ashamed Recovering Misogynist (or, the Feminism Song)
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
Track Name: Evening Thoughts & Feelings
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
Track Name: My Neighbor John
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
Track Name: Do Your Work
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?
Track Name: Radical Folk Singer, Feel-Good Folk Audience
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