Two songs from the 1980s

Song lyrics I wrote in 1986Last year, I shared some poems that I wrote in the 1980s. As I was cleaning up some old paperwork, I found another folder of my old writing. These were song lyrics I wrote in 1986, but they were never put to music. One of these songs is dated, but the other is still relevant.

The first is “Christa’s Apple,” which was my shocked response to the 1986 Challenger Disaster. Challenger was a great tragedy for all of us at the time, especially because I worked in a software company with others who loved technology. We were still excited about the space program, even when most of the country seemed to have lost interest. As the facts of the tragedy became known, we were outraged by the mistakes made by NASA. The final chorus expresses my criticism of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, which was nicknamed “Star Wars.”

I can’t believe, I can’t believe the news today.
The shattered faces of the crowd.
Seven lives, filled with hope and promise
Disappeared in the morning clouds.

Christa’s apple’s awash on the Florida shore.
Christa’s apple’s awash on the Florida shore.
Christa’s apple’s awash,
Christa’s apple’s awash,
Christa’s apple’s awash on the Florida shore.

I can’t believe, I can’t believe what the Commission says,
They said that NASA didn’t know?
Bureaucrats wipe their brows and sip their water
While the mourners trudge through snow.


I can’t believe, I can’t believe what the President says,
He wants to use the stars for war.
Whatever happened to those dreams of peace and progress?
What the hell is a heaven for?


The second song is “Summer Without Shorts.” It was inspired by my company’s downsizing and collapse in the summer of 1986. It’s an experience I would have other times in my career, and it’s a problem that is still relevant. Think about this song the next time you hear of a company downsizing.

One Friday at three,
Our executive VP
Called us into the room in the back.
He didn’t have to speak,
We heard rumors all week.
Our firm was never in the black.

He said, “Sorry, gang,
I have bad news to tell you.
I guess you know as well as me.”
He spoke without consternation,

“About your vacation,
Well, I guess you can keep that PC.”

Even in Silicon Valley
There’s a skid row alley.
When you listen to the falling stock reports,
To them, it’s another company gone bad.
To me, it’s a summer without shorts.

I gave them my weekends.
I gave them my nights.

They put me through a working hell.
Week after week,
I busted my ass
For products they just couldn’t sell.

I even gave them my wife.
Yeah, she couldn’t take it.
She walked out sometime late last year.
All I got in return
Was a stack of company t-shirts

And one worthless dead-end career.


Another apologetic,
Wrung hand excuse.
Another pissed-off user shouts.
Maybe he’ll find out
Three months from now.
When all those magazines will come out.

They say engineers
Have envious careers.
They call us all the cutting edge.
But too many of us
Are selling our houses.
Too many being coaxed off the ledge.