Music Review: Dave Lippman, ‘You Don’t Own the World’

A review of Dave Lippman’s new political humor CD, “You Don’t Own the World”

Dave Lippman’s new CD may have the most songs ever totaling less than 48 1/2 minutes. At 19 tunes, they average a brisk 2 1/2 minutes per song, with five of them under two minutes. But Lippman packs a lot into each one.

Dave Lippman, You Don't Own the WorldThere seems to be as many song styles as there are songs, from jazz to folk, country to swing. Just six are totally original, with the rest being original lyrics sung to well-known classics.

In the latter category, we have “In the Hummertime” written to the 1970 classic “In the Summertime” by British rock band Mungo Jerry. The song, as you might guess, is about the need to move away from fossil fuels, as Lippman sings, “If your daddy’s rich, he can make oil plumes, if your daddy’s poor, you can suck on the fumes.”

He comments hilariously and rapidly on many more issues, sometimes several in one song. The opening tune, a rockin’ jazzy number, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” is the most poignant, as he sings tribute to the fallen victims of police violence. while pleading for justice.

Other tunes include a remake of the Italian, almost Latin-beat sounding tune, “Bella Ciao,” renamed “Ciao, Inequality,” wherein Lippman hilariously dresses down the one percent. The title song is a “let’s take back our world” kind of ditty, while “When We Stand Up for 15” is “When the Saints Go Marching In” rewritten about the minimum wage issue. “Alberta Tarbillies” is a very funny remake of the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song, which creatively begins and ends with a reworded “The Christmas Song,” where instead of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” Lippman sings, “nations roasting cuz of climate liars…”

Dave Lippman
Dave Lippman as George Shrub, the singing CIA agent.

“Whistleblowers’ Blues” is one of my favorites, and a rare five minute tune. It’s a remake of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and Lippman shows he’s got some range, hitting those low notes very well. With the song, he goes through a litany of the great American whistleblowers, from Serpico in New York and Daniel Ellsberg in the Vietnam era to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, praising them for exposing lies and corruption and keeping Americans informed.

Dave Lippman has been gaining notoriety since 1969, singing political humor/activist, topical songs. After having a song recorded by Country Joe MacDonald, Lippman joined with a San Francisco comedy group to create the “Reagan for Shah Campaign,” in which he introduced George Shrub, the Singing CIA Agent.

Dave Lippman
Dave Lippman as Wild Bill Bailout, the Bard of the Bankers.

My first exposure to him was around this time, seeing him perform the Shrub character onstage during a protest rally. I was hooked. He started out with his guitar slung behind his back, wearing a suit and tie and dark sunglasses, taking pictures of the crowd. “It’s a great pleasure to see so many faces here that are familiar to me,” he said, “from my files… and those that will become familiar to me… [snaps photo] from my files.”

Other characters Lippman has created include George Stump, Moderate Clearcutter (with — or actually, against — Earth First!) and Wild Bill Bailout, the Bard of the Bankers.

Songs and videos may be found at, where you can also order CDs and find a tour schedule. The calendar says he will be performing July 25-28 in Philadelphia, at the “unDemocratic CONvention,” although it does not state where that will be held.

I had the chance to chat with Dave, and I’m happy to report that he said he’s a fan of the Humor Times, and that he “reads it irreligiously, and I consider comics and comic tunes to be roughly second cousins. Not that they should marry, but they should certainly partner.”

Dave Lippman has recorded 14 albums including this one, constantly touring all over the world, inspiring activists and counter-cultural types everywhere he goes. I highly recommend checking out the CDs on his website, and you’d do well to attend a concert if you ever get the chance to catch his remarkable act live!

James Israel
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