I moved to the Sacramento area in the fall of 1981. I wrote River City Trouble in the late 80’s. I was paying attention to the local and regional issues of the day and managed to include a veritable grab bag of those issues all together in one song.
I think this must be the most ambitious topical song I’ve written, so far. I don’t claim to be an expert, by any means, regarding these issues. As it is, I wound up writing a very topical song referring to:
1) The Savings and Loan crisis of the late 80’s.
2) The so-called “Water War” happening between northern and southern California.
3) The affect on the yearly salmon run as a result of more water being diverted from the Sacramento River and the Delta for agricultural use.
4) The growing number of homeless folks camping out on the riverbank of the Sacramento river.
5) And the large amount of agricultural pesticide run-off into the river that is provided to Sacramento residents for drinking, watering gardens, etc.
Whew, that’s quite a broadside ballad!
According to Merriam-Webster’s definition of Broadside Ballad:
“A descriptive or narrative verse or song mainly of the 16th and 17th centuries, commonly in a simple ballad form, on a popular theme (such as the celebration of an event or in praise of or attack upon a public figure), and sung or recited in public places or printed on broadsides for sale in the streets; also : a song in imitation of this”
I played a mean soprano recorder solo for this tune on track ten of the Older and Wiser album. I had been playing a lot of recorder in the mid to late 80’s. I’d play at home while jamming to some of my favorite recordings of the day. Examples include Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, Ghost in the Machine by the Police, Paul Simon’s Graceland).
To read more about the album version of this tune, as provided in the copious liner notes, click here. You’ll find it listed after the Never Left Home song.