Doug Clark may have retired from The Spokesman-Review, but that hasn’t kept him from staying abreast of the news.
It also hasn’t kept him from parodying it.
Clark plans to debut his latest “ripped from the headlines” song today at Pig Out in the Park with his band, the Trailer Park Girls.
The Spokane subject who is the topic Clark’s comedic songwriting?
Rachel Dolezal, naturally.
The former Spokane NAACP chapter president who passed herself off as a black woman before being outed as white by her own parents is the star of Clark’s “The Ballad of Rachel Dolezal.”
“Rachel Dolezal, who do you think you’re fooling? / Rachel Dolezal, what do you think you’re doing? / Ivory to ebony / Mixed up as a chick can be …”
Well, you’ll just have to listen to the rest yourselves.
‘The Ballad of Rachel Dolezal’
It’s the latest in his “Ballad of” series. There was “The Ballad of Eddie Ray,” about Spokane’s most prolific felon, Eddie Ray Hall, and more poignantly, “The Ballad of Otto Zehm,” about the mentally disabled janitor who was killed by Spokane police after being mistakenly identified as a criminal.
Clark, who retired from the paper in 2017 after more than 30 years of columnizing, said the song came to him as he soaked his two surgically replaced knees in his hot tub. He was alone at the time, he swears.
“I came up with the song and the first verse and the chorus before I ever picked up my guitar and put it to music,” he said. “This is the first song I’ve ever written in a hot tub.”
Over the years, he’s written dozens of songs, including several for the newspaper, such as “Tap Three Times” about ex-Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, and “The Gypsy Curse,” about Spokane’s late Gypsy leader Jimmy Marks.
It was in many ways like songwriting on a daily newspaper deadline, too. He’d write a tune, head into the studio with his buddy and bandmate Joe Brasch, and the next day the song would be ready to be in the paper and posted online. “It’s that journalism thing, where you gotta get it out,” he said.
He thinks of these songs as tributes to Spokane icons – people who have helped bring publicity to Spokane. For good or otherwise.
“Rachel Dolezal has really done a great job of focusing world attention on Spokane,” he said. “And a lot of people all over the world, their first impression of Spokane is Rachel Dolezal, and I want to give her some credit and a tribute. It’s our Trailer Park Girl thank you.”
But these aren’t the only songs he writes for his band, he said.
“I still have a whole album of original songs we haven’t recorded,” Clark said. “Some of them are in our set list when we play.”
While the Dolezal song also is available online at iTunes, on YouTube and at Spotify, today’s Pig Out set will mark the song’s first public performance. It will join the set list along with his songs about Otto Zehm and Jimmy Marks, as well as “Monoxide Love,” about a couple he knew who died because of an exhaust leak in their car, and “Holy Roller,” about his former minister who ran off with the church secretary.
Sounds like heavy stuff, but as they’re coming from Clark, they’re performed with a dose of humor and set to a rock beat. Perfect for a Monday afternoon at Pig Out.
The band formed in 1999, and they’ve been playing Pig Out pretty much ever since. “We’ve been there a long time,” Clark said. “It’s a fun venue.”
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