The Homeless Gospel Choir is a one-man band composed of singer-song writer, Derek Zanetti, and his unique storytelling folk–punk music genre. His album “I Used to Be So Young” was released on July 15, 2014. Zanetti’s album addresses issues including American materialism, war and capitalism. It is Zanetti’s use of lyrical satire, wit and bluntness that makes the album worth listening to.
Highlights of the album include the song “Armageddon,” which is entirely composed of sarcasm as Zanetti displays talented vocals and an insightful perspective. The comical chorus-“the apocalypse is really bad this time”-is sang soft and sweet. The message is to remind listeners of how ridiculously paranoid the news and media is making everyone.
Most of the album’s songs remain merely acoustic to give the authentic vocals more emphasis, such as “Musical Preferences,” in which Zanetti praises his favorite artists like Bob Dylan and Freddy Mercury. The punk–acoustics combined with strained vocals singing political–folk give Homeless Gospel Choir a unique sound quality that is unlike anything heard on the radio.
In some songs, listeners are slapped in the face with the cold, hard truth. “The Holiday Song” is a perfect example of The Homeless Gospel Choir’s direct approach to serious subjects. Zanetti sings about how American perspective on holidays has the tendency to overshadow worldly issues. For instance, he sings, “Happy Easter Sunday, everyone! I think you all look really great in your new shirts. I wonder if the kid that made it got a new shirt too” and then goes on to describe the life of children working in sweatshops. The song doesn’t stop there. Even marriage engagements aren’t safe from Zanetti as he sings:
“Hey there sweetheart, I’ve got news for you.
I had a talk with your dad last night.
So I went out and got you this diamond ring.
It came from a slave mine in Africa,
where people don’t have the choice to leave.
The man in the mine, works under gun point.
But I bought so that I can say I love you,
and I bought it so that I can say I care,
and I bought it so that I can get inside your pants,
and I buy everything because I’m an American.”
While the lyrics are harsh and can instill guilt in the listener, they also are thought provoking. “I Used to Be So Young,” will make some listeners desire to create a difference in the world. Other listeners will completely disagree with Zanetti’s opinions when they hear the somewhat bitter and a little pretentious lyrics. In the end, everyone can benefit from listening to this album, even if all you get out of it is a laugh or a new perspective on political topics to discuss.