This is the first time I've ever been fired from my own music. After doing a few singles, Mindworker was the first album for Paul August (that's me). On the last song of the project, Chiten gave me a cold compliment. "August, you're song is so beautiful that we're not going to let you sing it." Was my songwriting so good or my vocals so bad? I wondered. In either event, Chiten brought in David La Flamme, lead singer of It's a Beautiful Day. His million seller, "White Bird," sold more copies in Japan where it was a religious symbol. The song he sang on my album, "One Time," deserved his artistic interpretation. "You only have one time being a child, one time ..." But it didn't stop there. Chiten had La Flamme sing the title cut, "Mindworker." I was beginning to reconsider my career aspirations. Maybe I should just be a songwriter and accept my fate as, "the world's oldest undiscovered rock 'n roll star." Chiten and La flame clicked with a chemistry that conveyed my nonfiction song about a teacher with a troubled kid in an inner city classroom. I had no complaints. Let me dispel an ugly rumor about "Mindworker." There are those who claim that they sometimes hear "mindf----r" sung in the background, as if in some subliminal, inaudible way. It may be the power of suggestion or the projection of minds who want to hear an "expletive deleted." I never had any complaints from parents about this word. Conversely, I have had a few hip insiders claim that they can hear the inaudible four letter word with the "er" suffix. Yeah, right. Chiten and I also decided I wasn't going to sing "We Teach the Children." Chiten wanted to scratch it from the album because it's sentimental gush didn't fit into my satirical and sarcastic body of music. I had, however, received a grant from the National Education Association to put their song on my album and so we did. Melody Price, a San Francisco singer, performed it. Chiten gave it an up tempo arrangement and we added children voices. That left me with seven tunes to sing, one of which I don't sing anymore. "On Strike" is too angry and hostile. I don't even like my own tune. At the time I wrote it, I tried to remember the outrage we felt while we were on a teacher strike. So, I went out to a strike line north of Berkeley to interview these guys. At first they wanted to run me off. Then they ended up including me in their strike plans. I published this song hoping it would be an anthem for anyone on strike anywhere. Now I realize that people on strike are simply too angry to sing. And no one wants to be reminded of being on strike, a most unpleasant experience. "Big Max" is more talking than singing but there really was a secret Tuesday evening club for educational lobbyists in the state of California. "Grantwriter" sums up my ineffective attempts to get funding at just about anything. What little money I got for projects didn't justify the time and energy wasted on grantwriting. As a co-founder of Maybeck High School in Berkeley, I bragged that I'd write a grant and get the school funded. I failed. But, ironically, as other alternative schools dried up along with their grant money, Maybeck thrived because, in the words of Bobby Dylan, "When you got nothin' you got nothin' to lose." Maybeck High is still alive and well today, thanks, in part, to my failure as a grantwriter. My apologies to any school board member named Betty. This song is not about you. The real model for Betty had a different name that didn't sing as well as "Betty." You know how you have a favorite part of any record? The introduction to "Betty on the School Board" by Chiten is my favorite. The keyboard swirls down to a sparse piano and then in comes a synthesized tuba. I replay that intro every time I listen to that tune which, unfortunately, is misinterpreted by kids today. I asked a young boy why Betty was his favorite. He said, "I liked where they killed the teachers." Oh? I have a part where 200 fired teachers are "shot and killed." A metaphor. Figurative language. The kid took it literally. These are the unintended consequences for all of us singer songwriters. Songs take on a life of their own. When I was on assignment for Rolling Stone magazine, I had an interview in Vacaville, a medical correctional facility, aka psychiatric prison. That's where I learned about the "Prolixin Shuffle." I confess I stretched the truth in bringing it into the classroom but I needed a don't'-drug-the-kids type tune and Ritalin didn't sing well. An old teacher activist inspired "The Rites of Spring." She insisted that every year it was the same old story: teacher lay-offs, budget cuts, protests and frustration. Teachers are hired in the fall and laid off in the spring. It never changes. "The Cardboard Box Brigade" is about all those bureaucrats who are so pervasive in public education today. I'd wager that - in California - most big school districts have more non-teaching than actual teaching staff. Go to your local school and look around. I'm a former Oakland High School teacher. 16 years. I've taught at risk kids, advanced placement English and I've been the adviser to the school newspaper and yearbook. Now I'm ready to rock 'n roll.