Secular CD Makes History (Jan/Feb 2001)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce the release of its first musical CD: “Friendly Neighborhood Atheist,” featuring Dan Barker, the first CD of its kind. The 2-CD collection of contemporary and some historic freethought music contains 34 songs–more than two hours of secular entertainment!

The listener-requested compact disk set includes 31 digitally remastered favorites from the Foundation’s three previously released cassettes: “My Thoughts Are Free” (1987), “Reason’s Greetings” (1992) and “Freethought Then & Now” (1999)–plus three new releases. The cassettes will remain in stock for anyone preferring tapes.

Included in the new CD are many of Dan’s oft-requested songs, such as the very first freethought song he wrote after leaving the ministry, the bluesy“You Can’t Win with Original Sin.” Other favorites include: “Nothing Fails Like Prayer,” a cha-cha traditionally performed at the Foundation’s annual convention during the “nonprayer breakfast;” Dan’s touching renditions of Ingersoll prose and poetry in “Love” and “Declaration of the Free”; “The Battle of Church & State” (to the tune of “Jericho”); the “Stay-Away Pope Polka”; and of course, “Friendly Neighborhood Atheist,” his conception of what Mr. Rogers might sing to children . . . were he an atheist.

Among the historic songs are a rousing rendition of the feminist anthem of 1912, “Bread & Roses”; Joe Hill’s “Preacher & the Slave” performed with Kristin Lems; the German freethought song from the 1500’s, “Die Gedanken Sind Frei” (“thoughts are free”), also with Kristin; and Tom Lehrer’s ever-popular “Vatican Rag.”

Joining the tried and true are three new songs by Dan recorded for this collection. “Freedom From Religion,” an energetic rock-ballad a la Elton John, based on Foundation president Anne Gaylor’s saying that “there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent,” will make you smile. “We, The People,” a driving mambo (complete with freethought background vocals), affirms America’s secular heritage. “Lucifer’s Lament” is a tongue-in-cheek, laid-back hip-hop, complaining that the Man Upstairs is upstaging the devil. Dan begins the song on the lowest note of the piano, and had fun playing the “Onward, Christian Solders” interlude in the locrian mode (the “Devil’s mode”).

The attractive 2-CD collection is available for $20.00 postpaid (that’s 59 a song!) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701

Also on the album: “Sunday Morning Blues”; “The World Is My Country,” waltz based on Thomas Paine; “God’s Grandeur,” a “showtune,” lyrics by Philip Appleman; “I Don’t Need Jesus” and “Life Is Good!” in “gospel” style; “Blood Brothers,” “Promise of Dawn” and “Higher Mind” ballads; “Freethinker Blues”; “Reincarnation,” lyrics by cowboy poet Wallace D. McRae; “Just Say ‘NO’ To Religion,” protest rock; “FFRF,” lyrics by Ruth Green; “No Gods, No Masters,” tribute to Margaret Sanger; “The World’s Need,” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox; “The Time To Be Happy Is Now,” waltz based on Ingersoll’s creed, with children’s vocals; “The Trinity,” hilarious rendition of Ingersoll; “Vicar of Bray,”amusing 18th-century English ballad; “No Hurry To Die,” humorous rhumba for kids of all ages; “Solstice Tribute,” turning a Christmas carol on its head; and “Benediction,” a secular “hymn” by Sherry Matulis.

Freedom From Religion Foundation