/
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    You also get pdf files of the CD packaging, which includes a 20 page booklet of lyric sheets, credits, and historico-political references.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $7 USD  or more

     

  • El Pulpo / CD from Arbouse Records
    Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Full color CD gatefold package features photographs by Stephen Ferry and drawings and titles by Andrew Levi-Hiller. Comes with 20-page booklet featuring lyric sheets that refer to books and sites where you can learn more about the historical events referenced in the tracks. Import from French label Arbouse Records.

    At the moment, I'm sold out here in the US, but you can order from the label here, which would be a cheaper option for shipping anyway if you're in Europe:
    arbouserecordings.bandcamp.com/album/john-davis-the-cicadas-el-pulpo-arbou048-extrait

    I expect to get more in here in the US in the next few months, so to save on shipping if you're here you can wait on that.

    Includes unlimited streaming of El Pulpo via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

  • El Pulpo / Cassette from Shrimper Records
    Cassette + Digital Album

    Handmade by Dennis Callaci for Shrimper Records, black and white cover features Andrew Levi-Hiller's drawing as the frontpiece. Limited edition of 150 to start. I only have

    Includes unlimited streaming of El Pulpo via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Sold Out

1.
In Mexico it used to be All the fields were full of me But then came 1994 I heard someone knock down the door Now corn from the USA Undersells me every day Iowa sells three times more than me Thanks to those big fat subsidies Sugar daddy candy corn You treated me with so much scorn Sugar daddy candy corn It must feel good to be well born Tortillas cost a lot more cash Soon the peso began to crash Mission Foods got such a big boost While poverty went right through the roof More than a million lost their land Circumstances forced their hand Driven to the north by free trade It’s so cold where the money’s made Sugar daddy candy corn Made them leave their own newborns Sugar daddy candy corn Sure is good to be well born Nobody comes from thin air Who really emigrated where? Said NAFTA, “I have ta come to the south To smack small farmers in the mouth.” Then the border will be a maze Of drugs and guns, smoking, ablaze Then Clinton did it twice Pushing Haiti, pushing rice They called it aid, said “Heaven sent!” But look where all the money went Sugar daddy candy rice Look out for that lower price Sugar daddy candy rice Look out for that bad advice Sugar daddy candy corn You treated me with so much scorn Sugar daddy candy corn It must feel good to be well born
2.
It’s time to sail out on the sea Across the waves on ships That we sail for many thousand miles The oceans are our shopping aisles We’ve got satellites and drones We’re far away, but not alone We’ve got decks of F-18s They only fire in their dreams On the Indian Ocean across the Red Sea In the Gulfs of Aden, and Guinea The mother company back home Gave us a map of where to roam They want the oil underground That makes the world go round and round On the Indian Ocean across the Red Sea In the Gulfs of Aden, and Guinea They want the labor really cheap That stitches clothes while we all sleep They want the labor, that’s the prize That has no right to organize On the Indian Ocean across the Red Sea In the Gulfs of Aden, and Guinea Welcome to the resource wars In deltas, jungles, deserts, ocean floors I hear they see us as a threat They don’t know half of it yet
3.
HFCS 07:25
I’m on the prowl and on the rise I’m on the prowl and on the rise In colorful shrink wrap disguise Colorful shrink wrap disguise On the prowl & on the rise Oh, HFCS You look so good, I never guessed Still I say yes You stimulate and then you depress Look in the glass before your eyes Someone is there to your surprise Someone you thought was safe Who can lay a body to waste On the prowl and on the rise Oh, HFCS You taste so good, I never guessed Still I say yes You stimulate, then we obsess The bitter truth tastes sweet It’s stuck between your teeth… I’m cheap because I’m subsidized Earl Rusty Butz said I’m authorized To be on the prowl and on the rise Oh, HFCS You look so good, well I never guessed Still I say yes You stimulate and then you depress I’m on the prowl I’m on the rise
4.
It started off with A&P Capitalized in Tennessee A Memphis chain that beats the band Bigger than Elvis, and Graceland The King of Rock & Roll could sing, yeah But here real cash registers ring At King Piggly Wiggly King Piggly Wiggly, spit roasting rotisserie You know the music never stops Deep inside the Stop & Shop Another link, another chain Another hit song in your brain The slower music makes you browse The atmosphere feels like a cloud Sometimes it feels like you can’t leave An impulse purchase pulls your sleeve No one knows what we sell We cover up the real smell Strolling for another mile Back & forth, another aisle We map a racetrack Of you shopping, forth and back Where the music never ends Safeway speeding round the bend Another link, another chain Another hit stuck in your brain Now these chains are heading south To kick street markets in the mouth Carrefour, and yes, Whole Foods Redline the poor & black, it’s true Like Elvis did back in Graceland We stimulate the wide demand Like a pusher selling rocks We sweeten Pandora’s box Like a pusher, but with stocks What we sell, it’s junk, around the clock Cuz it started off with A&P Capitalized in Tennessee King Piggly Wiggly First self service grocery King Piggly Wiggly Spit roasting rotisserie
5.
I skim the cream off of the top You sew the seams inside my shop A stitch in time in Vietnam The minerals for atom bombs It’s my vanilla shake My sweet tooth, your backache Migrant workers picking crops Gettin’ chased by border cops A private prison raking cash Helping congress grow their stash It’s my Vanilla Shake My sweet tooth, your backache It’s our Vanilla Shake USA on the take I’m from the north I eat the south Pineapples stuffed inside my mouth I skim the cream right off the top A patriot who loves to shop
6.
Coca-Cola 04:21
Coca-Cola you came just in time Pemberton recalled his Coca Wine Coca-Cola you still contained Just a bit of cocaine Coca-Cola you changed DNA 7X is pure or so you say Tome Coca-Cola Teme Coca-Cola Tome Coca-Cola La Chispa de la Muerte Atlanta never learned to organize You hit every strike between the eyes Mao’s Little Red Book slandered you You bought Inka Cola of Peru Coca-Cola you’re a germicide Sanitizing bugs way down inside Tome Coca-Cola Teme Coca-Cola Tome Coca-Cola La Chispa de la Muerte Coca-Cola you turn our heads The Depth Boys made Santa white and red The bottle named for Mae West Coca-Colonized every address Woodruff had the cash to spread your fame Thanks to Slavery by Another Name I’d like to teach the world to sing In perfect harmony I’d like to buy the world a coke And keep ’em company Perfect harmony in every dream Here comes a jersey off the back of Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola you bribed public schools Talking Congress down from health code rules Coca-Cola Colonels World War 2 Dictators never really bothered you Tome Coca-Cola Teme Coca-Cola Tome Coca-Cola La Crispa de la Muerte
7.
It’s good to be in office Let’s take a look and see How me and my friends Can loot the treasury It’s written on a golf course Or in a private jet The authorship is hidden But you know you can bet That laws about insurance Laws about guns and drugs Were written by Wall Street As white collar thugs Stock up all the prisons. lock hospital doors Stock up lots of guns, so we’ll need them more Stock up all the prisons, close a public school We who have the gold, get to break the rules We made friends with drug kingpins They helped us score a Cold War win So up and up went the supply Down came the price to get high Are politics in poor folks heads? Tell cops let ’em have drugs instead Then we’ll really have ’em seeing red They’ll be sleeping in a prison bed Does all this make you sad? Are you rich & white & scared? Take all the drugs you like You’ll be too high to care Stock up all the prisons, lock hospital doors Stock up lots of guns, so we’ll need them more Stock up all the prisons, fuck with public schools We who have the gold, get to make the fools Are you sick and poor? We’ve got emergency rooms But a new disaster Will be in your mailbox soon If you can’t seem to pay the bill Hey, that’s really just too bad Cuz HMOs have bottom lines That we just need to pad They wouldn’t be too thrilled No not too overjoyed If Medicare for all made sure That they were all destroyed, That they were all destroyed… Stock up all the prisons, lock hospital doors Stock up lots of guns, so we’ll need them more Stock up all the prisons, close a public school We who have the gold, get to take the jewels So now you’ve toured the office You had a chance to see How me and my friends Oh, how we loot the treasury! Here out on the golf course Up in our private jet All up and down the lobbies We take what we can get We take what we can get...that’s right
8.
Heinz, Unilever, Del Monte, Little Caesar’s Megafarms and high tech yields Pizza Hut controls the fields From Ghana to upstate Catskills Insider trading slowly kills Kills small tomato and dairy farms Papa John’s should raise alarms Who Milks the Cow? Who Milks the Cow? Leprino has a price to squeeze As they turn milk to massive cheese While somewhere dismal near Detroit The stock of Domino’s gains points The whistle blows, it’s halftime You call for pizza every time
9.
Some say you’re just dirt, they wash you away They never know the role you play You pull nitrogen from thin air You feed the plants, I’m glad you’re there Your beautiful diversity Damaged once by DDT Monsanto owns your ass Contamination in the grass Elements from water who The soil turns into plant food The veggies shining on our plate You’re the womb where they gestate Some treat you like dirt, they wash you away They’d starve without your savvy ways Your beautiful diversity Lost to the spread of BHC Syngenta owns your ass Contamination in the grass Aldrin, Benzene Hexachloride Arsenic, Heptachlor, but why? Orchards and cranberry bogs Sterile damaged lonesome frogs Carrots soak up the most of all Bugs Bunny don’t like that at all Insects, microscopic mites Break down falling leaves with bites Earthworms let the soil breathe Help water come on in and leave Some say you’re just dirt, but still I say Soil me and make my day Abundance and diversity Yes, some did ban DDT Dow Chemical still owns your ass Contamination in the beautiful diversity Lost to the spread of BHC Monsanto owns your ass Contamination in the Grass Aldrin, Benzene Hexachloride Aresnic, Heptachlor, but why?
10.
El Pulpo 10:24
Can you feel my tentacles? Can you feel my tentacles? My suction cups say they know you well My three hearts should ring a bell You know me I used to be You know me I used to be The United Fruit Company Minor Keith first made me tick I’m the real Banana Republic El Pulpo… Can you feel my testicles? Can you feel my testicles? The State Department made them swell John Foster Dulles made them well Guatemala loved Arbenz Guzman Thanks to John and Ike, soon he was gone Honduras was also my home No man should have to fight alone El pulpo… My suction cups can also taste I can lay a shark to waste Forty years of endless war 200 thousand dead, or more No one connects all that with me Since I changed my name, you see United Fruit? Non, Senorita! Call me by my name, Chiquita! El pulpo… My neurons live inside my arms I bear them and I do mean harm I used to own the railroad tracks I broke all the strikers’ backs I fought back by spraying ink Who owned the papers? Who you think? The radio, the telegraph, The postal service, paid with cash El pulpo… Back in 1928 Santa Marta met its fate Our best defense was just to hide In camouflage beneath the tides We change colors with our skin We shoot ink filled with melanin You understand my sex appeal A woman loves a man who steals El pulpo…
11.
You think of me, you think of sauce But I give chocolate its gloss Can’t you see the state I’m in? Turned into soy lecithin Three of four things that you scan At check out time betray my hand Soja é o rei, Soja é o rei You think of me as just tofu Well I’m so much more, oh yes it’s true So even when you dine on meat I’m the one you really eat The cows, the chickens and the steer All raised on me, from toe to ear I used to come from the US But now Brazil is my address Soja é o rei, Soja é o rei They followed me down to Brazil Bunge, ADM, Cargill And once they had control of me They wrote Brasilia policy Now aquifers better look out Cuz I’m on a rainforest rout “O Rei da Soja” é aqui É o Senhor Blairo Maggi Soja é o rei, Soja é o rei In Matto Grosso Indians Are losing land to me again The Landless Rural Workers say I’m made by work that doesn’t pay My ports are full of sex working Paranagua trafficking Soja é o rei, Soja é o rei
12.
Bubbles 07:28
You’re such a soapsud - I watch you float You’re such a soapsud - Don’t try and gloat You could be housing or S and L Or maybe dot com, it’s hard to tell - I know you well Public pensions: gambling chips Played as the market soars and dips On rumors and tips I watch your pretty bubbles turning into grime A bailout on the double and in the nick of time I watch your pretty bubbles right before they burst They’re shiny, full of trouble; to taste them causes thirst First it was Paul and Alan, then Janet after Ben They all bend over and back again, over and back again For astronomic rates of return I find it comic: they say they’re earned Take a look, who gets burned Noise trading swaptions, delayed write downs Backdating options, decayed downtowns Smashing and grabbing, buy out with debt The Drexel Gang has come to collect Look out you could be next I watch your pretty bubbles turning into grime You sit on top of rubble, you’re the king of crime We taste your pretty bubbles stuck inside our throats The parties working for you bring us your ransom note I watch your pretty bubbles turning into grime A bailout on the double and in the nick of time I watch your pretty bubbles right before they burst They’re shiny, full of trouble, to taste them causes thirst The campaign trail ends at your door They want the cash inside your drawer They straighten ties and check their watch They’re wearing cufflinks, drinking scotch
13.
You start with white explosions On volcanic shattered rock You sailed off to Hoboken You landed on the docks Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you And have you for a song Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you for a song King Kullen the Price Wrecker Sold you like a snake Where you grow revolution Follows in your wake Since a Frenchman crossed the ocean With your ancestor on a stake Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you And have you for a song Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you, for a song Guatemala, Nicaragua Chiapas, Salvador Rwanda, Indonesia Brazil, Angola, more Sandino called them blonde beasts, the US marines Liberation priests said they killed just for your beans Eisenhower, Dulles, oh how they’d kill for you JFK and LBJ, you know they did it too Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you And have you for a song You spawned Lloyd’s of London And bred the stock exchange You sped up hungry workers Oh they also got shortchanged You made a rich man of Somoza You made the fame of Juan Valdez Where your aroma grows A muscleman means what he says You start with white explosions On volcanic shattered rock You sail off for a token And land on every block Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you And have you for a song Sinatra sang about you And the people sang along The nation had to have you, for a song

about

All of the songs on this album deal with white collar crime, mostly of the agricultural & American variety. The idea to undertake this project came from a combination of the book Stuffed & Starved: The Hidden Battle For the World Food System by Raj Patel and the album In What Language? by Mike Ladd & Vijay Iyer. Some of the other sources I used to research the history and current events addressed by this album are listed after the lyrics in the booklet you can download on this page, or find inside the CD package.

10% of proceeds will go to benefit Durham For All's 10K strong campaign, which aims to build a cross-class multiracial political movement rooted in working class communities of color that can transform Durham's electoral landscape. Learn more and consider donating at www.durhamforall.org/10kstrong. This album was made in Durham and came to be in a synergistic fashion with work I have been engaged in since moving here in 2013 with Durham Public Schools, the Durham Association of Educators, and the Durham People's Alliance.

A few reviews:

“John Davis stopped playing music in public for a while after quitting Folk Implosion in 2000. He was still writing songs and slowly returned to active performing to support his sporadic solo albums, most notably Spare Parts in 2013. His day job – teaching at a culturally diverse high school – inspired this new project, a political song cycle that uses the food industry as a metaphor for the problems of capitalism, colonialism, and racial inequality that we face on a daily basis.

The songs are lyrically dense, laying bear the shady rationalizations that support the easy life most of us in the U.S. enjoy. Davis has crafted an album full of slow, stirring melodies and tension-filled arrangements that deliver the alarming information he wants to import in a visceral way. After listening to El Pulpo, you’ll never be able to visit a supermarket or add sugar to your coffee with a clear conscience.” — j. poet, Magnet Magazine, December 2017, 9/10 stars.

“On El Pulpo, John Davis & The Cicadas assess the human cost of corporate corruption and greed within the food industry using clattering art-pop. Davis, best known for his work in Folk Implosion with Lou Barlow, was inspired by Raj Patel’s book Stuffed and Starved, about the global cost of corporate food monopolies. As a teacher in Durham, North Carolina public schools, Davis has students in his classes whose parents emigrated from countries impacted by the deleterious practices of resource- and labor-hungry American restaurant chains and food companies. El Pulpo, then, is a work of nonfiction—a really, really catchy work of nonfiction.

“Coca-Cola, you’re at public schools / Talking Congress down from health code rules,” Davis sings on the upbeat, percussive “Coca-Cola.” Throughout El Pulpo, Davis inverts marketing and advertising techniques, using slogans and brand name repetition to subvert their respective corporations. “Who Milks the Cow?” plays like a sound collage recorded in a mechanical zoo, and in this nightmare soundscape Davis recites corporate names like a beat poet reading the signs in a strip mall: Del Monte, Little Caesar’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s. “The whistle blows, it’s halftime,” he rhymes in a sort of slacker-rap voice, articulating the knee-jerk effects of nonstop advertising. As the weird little song fades, heavily-treated voices in the background repeat, “Call for pizza. Call for pizza.”

In a lesser songwriter’s hands, this could come across as preachy. Yet Davis isn’t merely yelling, “Wake up, sheeple!” He’s putting forward the facts as he sees them. In “Stock Up All the Prisons,” which bears all the rhythmic pulse and infectious melody of an orchestrated Liars tune, Davis goes step-by-step into the way the American prison-industrial complex functions. “It’s good to be in an office / Let’s take a look and see / How me and my friends / Can loot the treasury,” he sings, then connects America’s for-profit health care with its for-profit prison industry. “Stock up all the prisons / Lock hospital doors.”

– Corbie Hill, Editorial: Album of The Day, Bandcamp, 11/27/17

credits

released October 20, 2017

Produced by Scott Solter and John Davis
All songs by John Davis (c) Endless Soft Hits (BMI)
Photographs by Stephen Ferry
On all tracks:
John Davis: lead vocals
Scott Solter: Distorbience and tinted vapors
See individual tracks and/or download pdf booklet for full credits to the bakers dozen of Cicadas who buzzed on this album.

Our sincere thanks to the following Kickstarter supporters who helped to make this album possible: Wim Lecluyse, Michael Hession, Eric Davis, Grace Harriman, Michael Sacks, Anthony Star, Lou Barlow, Leslie Gaffney, Peter Roundy, Tom Fisher, Penny Lewis, Joe Blubaugh, Ceridwen Morris, Vina Rust, Adam Zucker, Walter Crump and Imani Perry.

license

all rights reserved

tags

about

John Davis & The Cicadas Durham, North Carolina

John Davis is a musician who works solo, with Folk Implosion, with a backing band called the Cicadas, and with Dennis Callaci. He also works on defending transforming public education as a teacher - organizer with the Durham Association of Educators.

contact / help

Contact John Davis & The Cicadas

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like El Pulpo, you may also like: