A COMPOSER WHOSE TIME IS NOW!
David Thornburgh is a multi-talented composer
who is singing what our world is talking about, war.
Listening to Meria Heller's "Mouth That Roars!"
radio show I heard David singing the
He sent me an email to comment on another
website I have featuring photographs I
took of the homeless. David had seen the
link thru Meria Heller's subscribers newsletter.
The Mouth That Roars!"
After learning more about this gifted songwriter,
fearlessly singing the protest songs of our day,
naturally I couldn't wait to share David with
the brilliant readers of "On the Road with Judy!"
David Thornburg is not only a composer/singer,
but also painter and poet. For the past few
years he has mainly written songs about the
raging wars surrounding our globe.
Can the world find peace thru song? Well if
we are singing together we certainly wont
have time to point weapons at one another.
So David, please keep on writing those songs!
And now may I introduce you to
the extremely talented
David are you mostly a protest/folk songwriter?
Lately I've been writing protest songs as well as
comedy & satirical songs.
What other types of songs have you written?
Aspirative philosophical, love songs (when I'm in love!)
railroad songs, etc. Also, Dylan like pieces as well as
avant-garde -folk, where the guitar & vocal are
processed in different ways. All my life I've written
poems and lyrics as well as instrumentals . Wrote my
first protest-type song when I was 18 or 19, in 1972,
but didn't earnestly pursue it till after the Watergate scandal.
When I was on the Great Peace March for
Nuclear Disarmanent, Pete Seeger was on
and off the march and as we walked across
the country the songs marchers mainly composed
were Seegar-like pieces. They were deeply
dedicated to helping the world find peace.
Do your songs come from this same desire?
I've been very angry in the past 20 years or so,
fueled by the feeling of powerlessness against
centralized, bureaucratic anti-individualism and arrogance.
Most of my peace songs and other protest material
during the first 10 years were mostly philosophical,
getting at the root of issues, rather than of topical
issues. Today, it's a mix, but some issues are dealt
I grew up reading alot of Ann Rand books. She, along
with some science fiction stories and "Candide"
by Voltaire began to open my heart, senses, and mind.
they were my inspiration for writing what I do.
Folksingers' issue-oriented material has inspired me'
and I love the spirited writers Phil Ochs, Donovan,
Bob Dylan, Tom Rapp of Pearls Before Swine,
udy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, and
Judee Sill, especially.
Do you think your songs can actually bring
No, but I feel if I'm derelict at voicing an opinion,
or in offering an idea or a solution, then I am
essentially condoning the violence and most of
the causes of strife.
Capitalosocialism, which is my term for the operating
paradigm of most industrial western nations, is
also a very important other cause of human bondage,
frustration, and the torture of powerlessness and
forced, individual sacrifice for that "greater good."
All that any individual has going for themselves are
their own unique gifts.
Guess what I am trying to ask is would you write music
regardless of the worlds political situation?
I'd much prefer to write lovesongs and songs that
marvel at our incredible universal treasures than
protests of endless wars that inhibit and stunt our
growth as a species.
Did you start writing music as a child?
No, I was about 13 or so, a teenager.
Is your family in show business/music, etc?
None of my family was is show business.
My paternal Grandfather was a pickup piano
player in the prohibition speakeasies for a spell.
He was artistically adept, and he made museum-quality
steam train locomotives. My mom's father was an
Did they support your creativity?
I think that my parents were thrilled!
Do you believe 'we will overcome' with the present
situation in the this country since 911?
Don't know if we will. I imagine that more and more
people will become politicians , for the exercise of
power and domination over others in the name of
"the preservation of freedom, justice, and
The American Way." It's an easy gig, stewarding
an endless war that makes slaves of us and everybody
else in the world.
I believe that America is dead, and that it has, in the
words of George Carlin, "been bought and paid for
long, long ago." All I can do really, is write for a future
time and hope that some of my ideas make it through
the eventual wars, famines, and cataclysms.
When you wake up each morning, do you set apart
a time to write music, or 'does it control you?'
I strike when the iron is hot. I've known very successful
creators who can turn their creativity on & off like a tap,
but I never have been like that. I still treat it as a joy and
a hobby as much as anything else, it is much like a drug in
that it's so much FUN !
Working on any new sounds right now?
I'm trying av-pop music , because it is basically technical
and not done in real time. I prefer to think and create,
rather than recite.
I've written 330+songs so far, and I can't remember
most of their lyrics. Some songs are so complicated
for my meager skills that I rarely play them at all,
having committed them to cd's.. I follow either
songwriting or painting until it exhausts itself, then
switch to the other. My dormant craft eventually
(at least so far) replenishes itself.
Since January 2001, when what some of us call
"The Stolen Election" got me so angry I have a
collection of songs about that period I am going
to put on a CD. and am I had to say
"ENUFF ALREADY !!!" I'm now collating those
songs into a cd or two.
If we pick our parents, place of birth, etc. as
some believe, before birth, did you pick the right
set of circumstances David, to do your music?
If not, how would you change your life to make
it work better.
I'm very very satisfied with my family "choice.".
If I had my way, tho, I'd aim for a freer time,
and place, if there are other births to come.
Sometimes, tho, I've been so utterly dismayed
that I made a joke about life :
"I hope that if there is another life, I'll come back
as ROAD KILL and not have to put up with this stuff."
Mankind deserves a better future than to have
to face existence forever in our current form.
Eventually, perhaps like Proteus, we'll be able
to choose our own shapes during a lifetime or
by cloning ourselves anew.
With the advent of such technologies, maybe our
memories will be able to be transferred into the
new being. Who knows ? I'm not afraid of the
possibilities as much as today's medieval philosophies
being loose in this age of advancing knowledge.
"If cavemen had the atom bomb, we would now
have long been gone- but the beast in us keeps
on, just like forever" -from one of my songs.
by David Thornburgh
My Mother always ask me
When I's runnin' with the group:
"If Everyone marched-off to war
would you do it too?"
Music does bring us together. Do you feel you've
an obligation to use your gifts for this purpose, or
do you just sing, because you want to?
I write because I feel I must. If I sang some of my
most earnest beliefs in public, I'd probably get stoned
to death (in the Biblical way) Folks like to laugh, tho,
so it's good to write & sing funny songs every
now & then.
I know you have spoken about the drug habit you
once had. Simply put, how can budding musicians/songwriters
avoid all that, or can they?
From my experience, addiction is in the personality of
the addict, as much as in the substance. One could take
care of oneself well, stay healthy, and just say 'no,"
but most folks who are creative and curious about life
and experiencing it, will never abide by second-hand
knowledge, especially where pleasure is found.
If someone were describing you to a group of
young college students, "I would like to introduce
you to David Thornburgh. He is _________________??"
how would you finish that sentence?
"currently dissatisfied with statism and anti-individualism."
You also paint right? Do you think of yourself more as a
painter or songwriter? Since I heard your music on
the radio, I obviously think of "David Thornburgh" the
singer/composer..Just wandered how you view yourself.
Currently I'm not painting, but everyone who has both
seen my paintings and heard my songs prefer the paintings.
Since I've had the tools to record in segments and able
to fix my mistakes, as well as having a good engineer,
producer, recordist, and backup instrumentalist, I have a much
more positive and less stressful time of it. So Im devoting
my time to music.
If someone from the future contacted you and said,
"David, you will never believe what the world is like now.
This is the year 3000 and all I can say is WOW!"
what will they be seeing David?
I hope that if the human race and its civilizations survive,
they'll have a lot more good technologies, better medicine,
and freer philosophies & constitutions. I hope that they
will have more tolerance for the stragglers and the
sages amongst them and afford greater freedoms of
choice for those who wish it. I hope that life will be more
voluntary and not full of greedy mandates. I hope that if
there are preachers and religious leaders, that their moralities
might consist of "Thou Shalt Not Force These Views on Others"
as number one.
When I meet people that are gifted, I also wander if
it is genetic, or did they work hard for their gifts or is
it karma? Can you shed any light on that?
I have known a few geniuses. I'm not one of those.
My IQ was once tested and it was a "bright normal,"
in the scientific language of the time. All I know is that
when I get an idea, I usually have to work pretty intensely
to develop it. School never came easily to me, and i feel
that it stunted my intellectual growth and social skills.
I am grateful to my parents for their gift of unconditional love
and a very loving shelter from life's vicissitudes.
Have you plans to do any DVD's, etc. coming up?
My song "Bushit" appears under the end credits of the
film "Florida Fights Back," by Jeannine Ross and Bruce Yarock;
I have many hours of videotapes of myself playing the guitar
and singing. I wanted a record of fingering positions
for the various chords and tunings used. It's all shot
in Miami, in my room, and being that we're usually
rather hot down here, and the fact that I have to turn
off my noisy a/c while taping, I'm usually playing while
in my underwear and a t-shirt (to keep sweat off my guitar),
so the films are not very pleasant to watch.
Do you have children, a family? Or is music your family?
I am not married and currently have no girlfriend. I do
have a very good friend female friend who lives in my
spare room. Art and music take up most of my time,
as well as volunteering for the local folk dj at the public
radio station. I sometimes write record reviews for our
folk newsletter. Being a volunteer, I get to listen to new
cd's often. If I find someone political that Meria Heller
might like to use on her show, I give them her website.
When I hear a song, I know God is alive and kickin'!
Are you spiritual in your thinking?
When I feel happy or when something positive springs
anew I am in the 'attitude of gratitude mood'. When
things go badly, may God forgive me, I tend to think
that whoever made the human body should be forced
to LIVE in one! Sometimes, I feel there is no God,
just alotta arrogant, paranoid fanatics. ON ALL SIDES !!!
Its difficult being an artist.. People want your gifts,
but not many are willing to help you get them
'out there'..and there are critics everywhere.
What keeps your spirits up and your dreams alive?
I create because I feel I must. When I get low on funds
or have medical problems, my family helps me.
I reciprocate in various other ways. The thing I'm
unable to do -- is get them to market. Things are
changing tho. Your caring, Judy, to even give me
replies to my queries, gives me the knowledge that
you are listening to me and I to you -
My friend Bruce Yarock who's recording me in a
professional manner is a godsend . I don't think
I'll ever make it as a lone singer. I'd love to be
what Robert Hunter is to the Grateful Dead
band -- a writer for them, not usually a musician
on stage. I'd love, as I said before to have a good
musician and/or musicians do some justice to my songs.
I've given up on many rewards in my lifetime -- Karl Marx's
ideas shaped a world, he probably knew they would, tho
he never got to be part of the Russia that came out of it.
(He'd probably not have liked what he saw anyway.)
DaVinci envisioned the first helicopter and many other
inventions, but like Einstein, never had the proper tools
to test some of his theories.
Where do you see yourself in five years musically David?
If I'm not dead, I'll probably have better equipment
to use, and new techniques. As it is, now I've been
able to, with the help of another good friend and
musician -- get my old reel to reel tape machines
fixed, so I'll be transferring stuff I've not been
able to hear for 20 years or so, some of which go
back to 1968. If I run out of song projects, I'll
switch back to art for as long as that goes.
You live in Florida. I understand one of the
good things about that state is it supports its artists. True?
Under Jeb Bush, much funding has recently been
diminished or cut out completely.
So where can people hear you perform and buy your music?
David your music speaks for itself and I know
"On the Road With Judy!" readers will want to
hear much much more of the original music
by David Thornburgh.
And I am most grateful that you chose to share
'some of your life with us!'
"THE MOUTH THAT ROARS!"