Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Free Range Chicken”

“Free Range Chicken”

You ever think about how many words and expressions come from chickens?

Don’t be a chicken.

I feel cooped up.

It’s time to fly the coop.

Don’t brood over your problems.

And many more. Now that I’ve lived with three backyard chickens for three years, I understand how those expressions got their meanings.

Chickens are cowards. They get squawky they’re shut up in their coop. And when they turn “broody” — sit on their nest for days straight because they believe they’re hatching an egg even when they’re not — they stare daggers at you.

Most of these expressions are kind of negative. Chickens don’t come out looking to strong or worthy of emulation. But they do have a lot to offer — fresh eggs every day or so during laying season — that’s not too shabby. They keep a lot of bugs out of our garden. They create compost. They recycle our food scraps into eggs for our breakfast.

Now, I didn’t set out to write an anthem for chickens with today’s song. And it’s not really about chickens. It struck me as strange and a little funny to be using a chicken as a viewpoint character. But I like it; maybe because the chicken, to mix a metaphor, is an underdog.

The first two lines came to me: “I’m a free range chicken / don’t fence me in.” And I got an image of a character with a chip on his shoulder. Yeah, he may not be the strongest of the bunch; he may not really be able to “fly”; and yeah, he may have been bred and domesticated for someone else’s goals. But he’s going to live his own life, dammit. So just let me be.

Humans are kind of a domesticated species too, it seems — a species that has domesticated itself, with its long childhoods and its immersive cultures. As children of parents and children of cultures, we can feel like our lives are not our own. But dammit, they should be.

This one’s SALTY

Lyrics

I’m a free range chicken
don’t fence me in.
To a free range chicken,
fences are a sin.

You may have bred me
to feed your own design.
But just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean it ain’t mine.

I’m a peckin’, I’m a scratchin’
if you corner me, I’ll fight.
But I’d rather keep on searching
for that open light.

Don’t clip my feathers.
Don’t trim my wings.
I may only fly for a second or two,
but while I’m up there, I’m a king.

I dash for cover
when the eagle swoops down low;
but I’ll be back in my good time,
so just let me go.

I’m a peckin’, I’m a scratchin’
if you corner me, I’ll fight.
But I’d rather keep on searching
for that open light.

I’m a free range chicken
don’t fence me in.
To a free range chicken,
fences are a sin.

You may have bred me
to feed your own design.
But just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean it ain’t mine.

Just ’cause you gave me life
don’t mean that life
ain’t mine.