A myth about an outsider coming to New York, being swallowed by the city, finding hope and despair between the cracks in the pavement - COLD MARCH is Robbing Johnny's debut album, out September 8, 2017. The album will be accompanied by a story companion that weaves a tale through the nine songs on the record. Here is the first chapter of that story:
Johnny moved to New York in March and it was cold.
He came to the city to be a poet yet no one would read or listen to his poems. He slept on his sister’s floor and at night would go to the roof and wonder about the island’s gnarled history of brick and river.
To make money he would walk a rich man’s dogs, nine greyhounds, up and down Park Avenue, every afternoon. He’d pick up their sh*t in little plastic bags on sidewalks. Every second Saturday he’d bath them with lavender greyhound shampoo.
One day he wandered up to Harlem. A kid with hot palms sold him a small dime bag fat with green and orange buds on Park Avenue. It was right at 100th avenue where the metro north emerges from underground, a metallic python, full of commuters from Connecticut and Westchester, whisked over the housing projects of Harlem heading home.
“This is for people dying from cancer, it’s from Colorado.” said the hot palm kid. They smoked it together under the roar of the train. Junkies on the street under the tracks were slumped over on the sidewalk, leaning towards pavement, twitching and smoking last bits of cigarettes.
“I gotta go,” said the kid, and he nodded to a tall figure in a dark hoodie on 125th street. The hooded figure began taking photos with people. He had a long slender selfie stick that curved like a sickle.
Johnny wandered to the train, his socks were wet, and his hands were cold.
A preacher in rags was yelling on top of a crate outside the subway stop.
“Consume! Consume! Consume! One day God is gonna get hungry and he’s gonna swallow us all!”
The preacher in rags stepped down to take a break and Johnny saw his moment. He stepped on top of the crate and began to speak and share his poetry.
“All these Americas, they’re giving us hysteria! They want to polarize us just like a camera! Our president is a parasite!”
“He’s another actor, it’s a performance” said another pedestrian.
A quieter voice, maybe from his subconscious added, “He’s a privileged white man from the hills and he’s gonna tell us what’s good for us! F*ck you!”
This didn’t stop Johnny, he screamed at the people, making his visions of fear come to life in flying paragraphs. He even stole some of the preacher in rags lines.
“One day God is gonna get hungry and swallow us all!”
Most of the people had continued to march through the snow, only a few had stopped to listen. He looked at the crisscrossing footprints as dirty snowflakes began to fall from the sky. The Chrysler building burned like an electric steeple through the heavy clouds. The preacher in the rags was crushing a cigarette underneath his sneaker near a street light.
“You done kid?”
“Yeah, I’m done” and Johnny got off of the crate. There was a young girl in a green dress watching him. Her shoulders were bare and snowflakes melted on her flesh. She disappeared into the crowd.
COLD MARCH is also the name of a key track on the album. The song was written with different verses over the years and it stands as an example of Bodega Folk Rock - a hybrid of folk, rock and roll and hip-hop. Here are the entire lyrics to the song:
Well it’s a cold cold march in New York
And the Island seem so small
I keep runnin into my shadow baby, I cross it in the hall
Colorado legal got me all sorta messed up,
YoLo is the motto, no Drake, shut the f up
Soda pop culture getting all sorta shook up
Satellites and stars, don’t make love
Like your phone’s dying
On the East Side of Eden
And you need to call home and tell your Ma;
It’s All Right I’m Only Bleeding
Out my sockets and my heart,
Beating, beating, buzzing, buzzing,
wasn’t, wasn’t, what I thought it’d be.
White American, yeah I won the lottery Ima pull a Mackelmore and text you an apology, argue over sodomy, talk on the economy, and read little lists online of sh*t that bother me…f*ck that…. Tweeting out some prophesy, like me and follow me, like me and follow me,
I guess you can like me, but you probably shouldn’t follow me, cause I don’t really know where the f*ck I’m going, I wrote these words right here though and they f*cking flowing, like a buzz saw to the artery, liberal art lobotomy, hello hello Halloween, now how the hell I’m supposed to be, I’m sweating under my mask, yeah I think they know it’s me, I’m sweating under my mask, yeah I think they know it’s me
It’s a cold cold march in New York City and the island seem so small,
I keep running into my shadow baby, I cross it in the hall,
Well it’s a cold cold march in New York City and this island seem so small
One day God’s gonna get hungry, and he’s gonna swallow it all
Colorado legal got me all sorta messed up
Got it from the kids with hot palms that never look up
On Park Avenue where the dudes in the suites
Commute to compute, all the status of the loot
From Connecticut, England is New
Old English they sip, sitting in some puke
Calm, but not collected, collecting calls with quarters
In the corners of the city where the junkie kids are goners
Hitting on the needle like a hipster with a vinyl
We should probably check their vitals, but we just keep it moving
Grim reap come through, yeah slow cruising, with a selfie sickle
Tacking pics on 1 2 5th,
What you talking bout man, that sh*t sound stupid?
Visions of a poet and I see it so lucid, and the buzz still lasting on this f*cking hash wax, your buzz bout as long as a f*ckin snap chat, of your girls ass crack,
What hold up send that back, but love is so elusive, this sh*t is so conducive, to riding in a suburaru, attitude of schoolboy q, your out the cubicle, here’s your cue to get stupid, getting f*cking stoned like your staring at medusa, getting f*cking stoned like your staring at medusa
Hello white America
Hello Black America
Hello Asian America
Hello Latino America
Hello Gay America
Hello Straight America
All these Americas are giving us hysteria,
They wanna polarize us, just like a camera,
I just lost my high, our presidents a parasite, pardon my appearance came to put this paragraph in flight, Laying on a page it gonna have half the might
I stayed up half the night, after-shave in after life, trying to get that fresh to death, who the f*ck you acting like? You must be an actor right?
Nah, I’m just a passer by, life to death, don’t ask me why, sky scrappers try to scrape the sky and they never ever do, and it’s clever when I do, all these f*cking things I do, that’s why I try to keep it true when I’m walking through the haze in the maze of the world that’s consume, consume, consume
Consume, consume, consume
Robbing Johnny recently released a promo video for their new album featuring two moments from two songs on the up coming album, a verse and a chorus from the song "Cold March", and a verse and a chorus from the song "Bodega Vegan". The video was a collaborative project with cast members from the off-Broadway show Stomp. Jordan Brooks, the drummer and percussionist in Robbing Johnny, is in Stomp as well. The video exists mostly outside of the story yet reflects it’s themes. It was directed by Reggie Talley, and features Reggie Talley and Tailor Lee, as two protagonists, stuck in a metaphorical room glued to a screen that divides people of different races and ethnicities. The video captures the struggle of speaking out in a consumer culture and dealing with a society that is continually divided.
Cold March, the debut album by Robbing Johnny, on all streaming services September 8.
Album Release Show
with Lady Moon & The Eclipse
at American Beauty
All words and lyrics written by Pat D. Robinson.
All music written and performed by Robbing Johnny.
Robbing Johnny is John Murrell, Pat D. Robinson, Jordan Brooks, John Mahoney and Evan Harris.
It’s a cold cold march to the other side.