Michael Franti Does Politics, Impressions at Rothbury

July 6, 2008 1:30 AM ET

Throughout his late-afternoon Rothbury set with Spearhead, Michael Franti displayed a knack for impressions that would put Dave Coulier to shame. During an amped-up cover of Sublime's "What I Got," the singer dropped a few bars of "The Rainbow Connection" in his best Kermit the Frog voice and briefly channeled Cookie Monster as he chanted "C is for cookie." It wasn't all fun and games, though. A pair of politically charged songs from his forthcoming record (All Rebel Rockers, out on Anti- this September) — the hard-hitting reggae riddims of "Remote Control" and the comparatively peaceful "Hey World" — found the singer laying out his views for a New World Order.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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