The New Black Eastside Songbook is a six-song suite conceptualized by Columbus writer/poet Scott Woods featuring new music composed by The Ogún Meji Duo, Counterfeit Madison, Krate Digga, Paisha Thomas and Jordan Sandidge. Funded by the Johnstone Fund for New Music, its debut performance on March 14, 2018 was part of the “New Music at Short North Stage” free concert series. “The Songbook” is an exploration of black life and culture in Columbus historically and now, touching on subjects ranging from privilege to police abuse and gentrification. It interrogates the definition of Columbus culture, and what relationship such culture might have to the people who both create and partake of it.

We present here the lyrics from one of the songs, “Things To Do In Black Columbus”, written and performed by Paisha Thomas.

From Paisha:

Once I selected [“Things To Do In Black Columbus”] from the list of six titles, I considered the conditions that Scott requested. I thought about what was my own relationship to the subject – how it made me feel and what I’ve seen that has impacted my psyche. For each title, Scott had given us a little bit of insight on his thoughts about them. I wanted to cover what he was thinking, and then provide a voice for the ones we’ve lost – Jaron Thomas, Tyre King, Henry Green, to name a few recent people just trying to live a day in this city as black males. 

 

Scott’s initial request included me (voice and guitar) and a bass. We were allowed to collaborate if we decided to. So I talked it through with Martin Brown and he created a bass groove upon which I built my lyrics. Krate Digga added some beats and organ sounds that, although not shown in the first live performance, were crucial in my creative process. I also needed to express my self through rap, and address the fearful white woman archetype and how white fear can cost us our lives. So I channeled my final creative frustration into the bars at the end of the song. This piece was a satire for things that one can “do” in Black Columbus. 

 

THINGS TO DO IN BLACK COLUMBUS
(Lyrics by Paisha Thomas)

4 intro
4 groove

Oh well its Saturday and it has been one hell of a work week
Twenty bus rides
All these side eyes
They think they know me
Think I might take me a rest
Right here on this wall
Just until the heat receives a panic-stricken call

Pre Chorus:
He roll up, he run up. With some shit behind his leg
Ready set to take my breath
We’re just inches away
He ain’t ask no questions his suggestions very clear
He would be much more at ease
If I wasn’t here

4 bars Chorus: In Black Columbus x 2

You can find me in the streets underneath my blood
Spilling from the
Soles of shoes and
Knuckles of blue-life thugs
From the ashes I
Reincarnate to set things right
Systematic population script is flipped tonight

Pre Chorus:
Superior warfare, intellect the riffle trigger
Ready set to take the breath
You take to call me nigger
No more asking questions our demands like diamonds
Get your boot up off our necks
Your city’s being run

Chorus: By Black Columbus
(Things to do) in Black Columbus

12 Bars at E:

Look at Becky
She steady grinning
She got’r pumpkin latte
Invading the space
Feeling intimidated
She likes ‘em segregated
She can twist the lip cry to nine one one
Face flush
Cheeks blush
And say “I think he has a gun”
Now a brothers running
Got cracks in his black when it’s not bullets
And I’m tired of hearing it
And I’m sick of seeing it
So I’ll keep saying it
And I’ll keep singing it
And we’ll keep playing it
And we’ll keep writing it
And we’ll keep creating this

Copyright 2018 Paisha Thomas

Photo courtesy of Doug Kridler

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