Stephen's Stirrings

Writings, songs, poems, thoughts, opinions, visions

New “Earth Anthem” Music Video

Dear Friends,

Hope this summer finds you doing well in all your endeavors. I am reintroducing a song that I released some years ago with an updated music video. The song is “Earth Anthem,” a new verse written by me, sung to the melody of “The Star Spangled Banner.” The original melody of our National Anthem comes from an old English drinking song that was sung in taverns throughout colonial America. In 1798, Thomas Paine had written patriotic words to that melody. Years later, Francis Scott Key wrote his poetic description of the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, which included the Star Spangled Banner verse, penned to that same melody. So I am following in the footsteps of an American folk tradition. Please see below for “History of Earth Anthem Verse” and further historical information.
Now is the time – when the world continues to be engulfed in wars including the longest war in American history (Iraq/Afghanistan – 13 years) – to stop celebrating and affirming “bombs bursting in air,” but rather affirm a sustainable, peaceful future that works for everyone on our beautiful planet.
Enjoy the video and please pass it along to all you feel would like to see it. If you wish to order the Earth Anthem poster or CD, please see my website
Have a wonderful, peaceful, fulfilling and enjoyable summer.

Link to “Earth Anthem” on YouTube:

Peacefully Yours,

The Earth Verse sung to the melody of The Star Spangled Banner, words by Stephen Longfellow Fiske

The Evolution of a Song-A Brief History
The Star Spangled Banner was written as a poem by Francis Scott Key on the deck of a small boat September 14, 1814, as he observed the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British during the War of 1812. After having already burned Washington, D.C. the British entered the harbor intent on sacking Baltimore. Inspired by the heroic American stand which turned back the powerful British Fleet, and by the sight of the American flag still flying after a day and night of heavy rocket exchange, Key jotted down some lines on an envelope and wrote out the verses when he later returned to shore. It was published the very next day on a handbill entitled, Defense of Ft. McHenry, and quickly met with wide public approval.

The melody to which the stanzas were written was that of an English drinking song, To Anacreon In Heaven. Anacreon was the convivial Greek poet whose verses celebrated love and wine, and who became the patron saint of The Anacreontic Society, a gentlemen’s club, whose enthusiastic and bawdy meetings had gained quite a reputation, and from whence the song became popular. To Anacreon In Heaven was sung in the taverns of Colonial America, and by 1814 was an American standby. To that tune, in 1798, Tom Paine had written a patriotic verse, Adams and Liberty, which became well known around the young nation.

But when Francis Scott Key’s verses were tacked on the doors of Baltimore’s taverns, his song was heartfully sung as a celebration of victory in war and national pride. As the popularity of Key’s song grew, the original Anacreontic song, Paine’s version, and other attempts to write verses (including one by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes), were forgotten and Key’s most popular verse, The Star Spangled Banner, became the favorite national song. In 1931, Congress officially designated it as the United States National Anthem.

Now, in the ongoing folk tradition of adding new verses to old songs, visionary singer, songwriter Stephen Longfellow Fiske brings the evolution of the song to the global perspective of the 21st century, blending democratic ideals, peace, and environmental harmony with his Earth Anthem.

A descendant of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Stephen is a poet in his own right, and has produced nine albums of his music. His most recent CD, Earth Anthem, How Do You Want Your World? features Stephen’s acapella/string arrangement of Earth Anthem, as well as ten other songs of peace, environmental, spiritual and social concerns. The CD has been getting rave reviews and is being well recieved by the buying public. Stephen and his partners are currently building Earth Anthem Enterprises to help promote Earth Anthem and create a socially responsible business serving a sustainable future.


Close Guantanamo Music Video, Dedicated to Pete Seeger

Dear Friends,

Here is a music video project, Close Guantanamo, which I have just completed with videographer Robert Corsini. The project is based upon the song, Guantanamera (I have changed the lyrics to fit the cause), and is dedicated to Pete Seeger.

I only had the privilege of meeting Pete Seeger a couple times, but his life, presence and way of delivering songs made a lasting impression upon me and I have modeled much of my performance style after him. This project would be something that I’m sure he might do himself, or support and endorse. At this time of his passing, I feel his spirit with this project.

I first heard the song, Guantanamera, from Pete Seeger. The lilting, romantic melody immediately captured me and the song was unforgettable. It was a popular song in Cuba, descriptive of the writer’s romantic vision of a young woman of Guantanamo. Over the years, the song became the framework for poets and musicians to express themselves. Often the expressions reflected a romantic closeness to the land, solidarity with common people and those who are less fortunate and oppressed, social sentiments, as well as capturing the tonality and melodic beauty of the place.

At a meeting of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), when the subject of Guantanamo prison was being discussed, Reverend Ignacio Consuela suggested that, “Fiske should write new lyrics to Guantanamera reflecting closing Guantanamo.” I took the challenge and with the support of ICUJP, the result is the music video, Close Guantanamo.

Guantanamo Prison represents the lowest levels that human intention and endeavor can reach. The violence, the war consciousness, the torture, the inhumanity, the violation of rights, the damage of the spectacle to our international relations, the cost in dollars, and the emotional and psychological cost to the collective consciousness of humanity should never be what a democracy creates. Guantanamo sits like a cancerous tumor metastasized through the military/industrial/corporate system, which builds empire through the war machine. Any righteous human being of conscience and some semblance of humanity would condemn the nightmare of Guantanamo.

Please listen and watch, and if you wish, share it in your communities and circles, and remember how Pete would say, “Sing it Out”. As President Obama inches closer to his pledge to close Guantanamo, may this work serve as some small catalyst in that direction.

Yours in Peace,