The Real Question -
Paul Laurence Dunbar
medium voice and piano
is talkin’ ‘bout de money, ‘bout de silvah an’ de gold;
All de time de season ‘s changin’ an’ de days is gittin’ cold.
An’ dey ‘s wond’rin’ ‘bout de metals, whethah we ‘ll have one er two.
While de price o’ coal is risin’ an’ dey’s two months’ rent dat’s due.
Some folks says dat gold‘s de only money dat is wuff de name,
Den de othahs rise an’ tell ‘em dat dey ought to be ashame,
An’ dat silvah is de only thing to save us f’om de powah
Of de gold-bug ragin’ ‘roun’ an’ seekin’ who he may devowah.
Well, you folks kin keep on shoutin’ wif yo’ gold er silvah cry,
But I tell you people hams is sceerce an’ fowls is roostin’ high.
An’ hit ain’t de so’t o’ money dat is pesterin’ my min’,
But de question I want answehed ‘s how to get at any kin’!
pages, circa 2' 45" ]
text is found in Dunbar's collection, Joggin' Erlong, 1906. In a day
and age over one hundred years later than this poem's writing, the subject
in news as in the public dialogue in general is the pursuit of money. I find
it enlightening that as social and historical eras pass, we gain insight
into which myths carried truths and which myths carried lies.
Among the great lies of the last century and more has been the myth of
social welfare, undergirded by the same political philosophy of socialism as
the murderous regimes of the twentieth century. In the softer incarnation of
socialism as seen in Europe and the United States, we are now seeing the
budgetary woes of which is laughingly called "public debt." While the
criticism of capital and the marketplace based on profit has been very
trendy, it comes to be seen that in fact while capitalism seeks profit and
growth and resulting profits, socialism in its softer forms relies even more
on growth and the resulting profits. When the lean years come around in a
cycle, as one might read from the biblical stories of Joseph in Egypt, the
wisdom of thousands of years still is modern and up to date. Whole nations
mired in debt should have in fact been more austere before austerity was
forced upon them. But the seduction of socialism and the truth of its true
reliance on capital, growth and profits promised another "way." That other
way has led whole nations into debt slavery, as it seems.
poem is a reminder that the the fundamental question of economics for the
individual remains "how to get at any kin'." As we watch, local, state and
national governments are beginning to face the same age old questions --
which have been answered for us over millennia, and ignored by the sway of
hugely fallacious, modern myths, especially the destructive myth of public
debt as a means of financing social welfare. The real question? How to get
money in an age of austerity. The answer? As always, produce, save and
invest wisely. But not borrow even more.
setting in E uses the "blue" seven chord forms with their major and minor
thirds, alongside a simple syncopation within the duple meter of threes.
The form is a basic A-B-A.
chromatic "slip" chords lead down to a bridge beginning on the subdominant,
before a return to the opening gestures and second "verse."
The score for
The Real Question is available as a free PDF download, though any major
commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior
arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this
The Real Question