One of the more unique organizational traits of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the central role that songs have played in their community.
Since their first song contest in 1969, the NFB has used song for inspiration, to protest against people and organizations believed to be acting against the interests of blind people, and to support the NFB's purpose.
I particularly like the following songs. Links go to the mp3 audio recordings available on the NFB website.
The Hybrid Car Song
Tune: “Surry with the Fringe on Top”
Words by Mary Ellen Gabias
Copyright 2007, National Federation of the Blind
Kids and dogs won’t know when to scurry.
Silent death arrives in a hurry.
All who walk have reason to worry
‘Bout the hybrid car.
We all want to stop the polluting,
Save a lot of gas while commuting.
If they made sound, there’d be no disputing
With the hybrid car.
Saving the planet we all hold dear,
Nobody wants to destroy it.
Please make cars pedestrians can hear
‘Cause we want to be ’round to enjoy it.
We don’t need a noisy vrum-vrumming,
Just a simple audible humming,
So that we can know when you’re coming
In a hybrid car.
Then we all can walk with safety on the street
Without fear that we will accident’lly meet a hybrid car.
The Quiet Car Song
Tune: “Found a Peanut”
Words by Sandy Halverson
1. I was walking down the sidewalk
Thinking of what I would eat
When I got up to the restaurant
And the friends I was to meet.
2. I was so close I could smell it.
Didn’t have to go that far
When my life was quickly altered
By that sneaky quiet car.
3. I approached my destination
When my cane broke at my feet.
Never heard the car approaching–
I was lying in the street.
4. Heard the siren of the ambulance
As it carried me away.
Lost my hunger in the ER.
Guess we’ll meet another day.
The Library Song
Tune: “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching”
Words by Curtis Willoughby
1. At the mailbox I sit thinking of the book I need,
And the library so cold and far away.
And the tears they fill my eyes ‘spite of all that I can do
When I think of what the library will say.
(Refrain:) “Wait, wait, wait, your book’s not in yet.
We’ll try to have it next year without fail.
We are not your corner store. We cannot do any more.
After all, we know just one percent read Braille.”
2. ‘Cause they’re running out of space. “For your book there is no place.
The demand for it, you see, is far too low.
How about a light romance or a novel set in France,
For we mostly serve the elderly, you know.”
3. So at home and on the job I am waiting for the day
When the mailman will come up to my door
With the book that I have sought and not the one they thought
That my profile showed I should be asking for.
For more information on the history of NFB songs and the full text of the songs, read Barbara Pierce's article, "Singing Our Story: Federation History in Song", from the July 2013 issue of the Braille Monitor.