My mother sold Stanley Home Products, and kept the plastic wares in the basement. I grew up in a Chicago suburb, and when I was ten or eleven would sit by the side of the house with my friend Linda, dig a hole in the dirt and start little fires. We started burning Mom’s plastic plates and forks but soon stopped after our fire gave off a horrible stench. The burning plastic rose in the shape of a blackbird – the bobolink. 

Bobolinka Fly Away

I lit a fire for you

To show my love

You flew into the sky

a big old raggedy black bird

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka – oooo

Fly away

Oh Polly

Oh Esther

How you shine

All your things and little rings

Inside of me

You’re mine

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka – oooo

Fly away

Tiny tears in

cups and saucers

Playing cards –who counts the losses?


Fly away

Rub the slag, make a wish

You can use this wonder dish

Everything will turn into gold

Molder, maker

Builder, faker

Polly, Esther

Who will take her?

Break the chains

So we’ll be free

Murderers, cheaters, kindly leaders

Polly, Esther, do we need her?

Break the chains so we’ll be free

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka bah-bobba-linka

Bobalinka —oooo

Fly away


JoAnne Spies is a singer songwriter and visual artist who collaborates with her audience in rhythm and sound explorations. Works include “Karaoke Confession,” “Trust” and “Courage,” guided tour/community performances created at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Her song “Survivor Tree,”written in honor of the callery pear tree that survived the blast at Ground Zero, was sung by the tree with Jane Goodall officiating for the International Day of Peace. Since 2001 JoAnne has headed up the Art Cart program at Community Access to the Arts, co-creating songs with elders and people with Alzheimer’s in six Berkshire Healthcare settings. Her latest CD, “Ecstatic Dances,”is used for movement and meditation in Alzheimer’s units and elsewhere. Awards include a composer and visual arts fellowship to the Millay Colony, and a grant from the Westfield Watershed and Marmalade Productions to write songs for “Watershed Waltz,” an environmental interactive touring program. Massachusetts Cultural Council grants have been awarded for her CDs, “Me & Melville,” “Sounding Mohican Pathways” (a collaboration with the Trustees of the Reservation). She also received a Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire grant for a performance honoring Herman Melville. Find her at