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Closing Down The Park
Lyrics: John Popper
Music: Chan Kinchla

Ya know,
There's this park, you see, in New York
That's what this song is about
Where we used to grow up
And, um, hang around
And then we started moving on
And started going on the road
We weren't home that much
But, back then they had this really great idea
When we hit town
These parks were prime real estate, you see
And if we could keep them nice-looking
We could charge more rent for the places around town
Now, I know you guys have that here around Boston
But, you know, in New York
They had this great idea that there had to be a crack-down
So we could sweep the park clean of the undesirable elements
And we figured, what could we do?
Besides vote
Perhaps we could tell a song
To you
Through the musical medium
And then you'll know
So here we go
I really hope so
Well, here it is...


Rich man smells smoke, he smells something burning green
Doesn't like the odor, better put some badges on the scene
Put a blue suit on everybody
you see hangin' round
And if that don't work, we're gonna close that park down...
But anyway
Yesterday a man was busted trying to walk his dog
Cop didn't like his attitude, say that he was against the law
Shoot everybody with a mutt this side of the town
And if that don't work, we're gonna close that park down...

Preach on, my wounded Chandler

You know when you're walkin' through that park one night
Whether your skin is black or white
And you feel that particular pressure on the back of your head
And the hairs on the back of your neck start to stand up
And you hear a (police call)
Trust those hairs
Because if you're big or burly
Or even short and surly
Or if your cat's named Shirley
You could be walkin' through that park
And meet with the most undesirable disaster
Compliments of your taxes
I'm not saying its gonna happen
I'm not saying that it will definitely happen
But it could happen
Because it has happened
I mean, it could be you
Or you, or you, or you, or you
Those guys back there
Yeah, that guy, yeah definitely
Those three, easily
Yup, you
Yup, that guy
That guy
Him
Those guys up there
Stinky or Scarface
Anybody
Well, enough of my yakking


What about your truth and your mother's apple pie
I guess it's all another part of your grand designing lie
Should I tell you something pretty so you don't end my way of life
Or should I come up from behind with some stolen, bloody, rusty knife
Well maybe I should sit by and watch you kill my friends
And maybe I can learn to love you and hope you never end
Perhaps I can learn to hate you but I think I already do
All I know for sure right now, it's gotta be me or you
While your uncle rolls his joints with his fifty dollar bill
I'm off in some other park, and I'm laughing at you still

Laughing my saggy ass off at you baby
C'mon tell me all of your stories
Tell me about your politics
Tell me anything
Tell me how you blame your kids
Tell me


1996 Blues Traveler

First release: Blues Traveler
Released: 01/01/1987
Earliest time played: 11/05/1988
Last time played: 08/25/2005
Playing frequency:
  44 plays (see all shows)
  2.37% of shows in the database
  2.38% of shows since debut
  Detailed statistics
Other recordings of "Closing Down The Park":
  Blues for the Mitten State, 1993
  Run-Around, 1994
  Live From The Fall, 1996
  Selections from Live from the Fall, 1996


There's this park, you see, in New York
The park in question is Tompkins Square Park, the site of rioting in 1988. The band was living in Brooklyn at the time, and was witness to the continuous process of gentrification that had been taking place in the Lower East Side since the 1970's. Properties in the area were bought up, renovated and resold at higher prices, much to the dismay of the locals. For decades, the park itself had been the home to Tent City, a haphazard village of homeless dwellings and shanties. In an effort to clean the area up, the new residents began calling the police for every minor infraction they saw in the park - pot smoking, failing to clean up after dogs, littering, and so on. On August 6th, 1988, things came to a head. According to nywiki.com, "a demonstration by local activists over use of the park that day turned violent when the police -- some of whom taped over their badge numbers -- rioted and rampaged through the streets and shops, indiscriminately beating protesters and bystanders. 44 civilians were hurt."
he smells something burning green [...] While your uncle rolls his joints with a fifty-dollar bill
An interesting double twist on the meaning of 'green' - both the marijuana leaves and the money. The fifty-dollar bill could also refer to the practice of using a rolled-up bill to snort cocaine.
put some badges on the scene/Put a blue suit on everybody
Both references to policemen, but the second phrase, "put a blue suit on everybody" could also refer to neighborhood-watch type enforcement, where all neighbors are expected to report what they see as crimes.
my wounded Chandler
The Live From The Fall version of this track was recorded on October 13th, 1995 at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, the third night of a three-night stand. At some point during the night, a fan threw a harmonica onstage, which he had likely caught sometime over the past two nights, and hit Chan squarely in the face. As John explains in the Official FAQ:
Before John could even start singing, the band had to stop. Chan ran from the stage gripping his face, blood streaming from between his fingers. Brendan and John, having their heads down, had no idea what was going on, as did a large number of the crowd. But Bob Sheehan saw it all. From somewhere in the middle of the crowd, a pale figure of a man rose up and let fly with blazing accuracy a rusted Hohner Special 20 harmonica. His trajectory was flat and velocity fast. The harp struck its mark in the face of Chan Kinchla. Chan was not only stunned, but seriously hurt. [...] After 5 minutes he was able to play again, but the energy of the show was definitely thrown askew.
your mother's apple pie
"As American as apple pie" - something that is authentically American. John is railing against the contradictions of the government bureaucracy.