The singer 1972
Freedom must come from inside,
Peace is a state of mine;
Do not look for it outside yourself
Or you’ll be left behind.
What must Be Said, ’75
My brother, Michael Lynn Coelho, was born in Fresno, California and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley in the Portuguese community of Riverdale. Our grandparents came from Terceira, São Jorge, and Pico islands in the Azores. At fourteen years of age Mike started reinventing himself into a separate identity. First his new name was Badger Baron King. By the time he was eighteen it had evolved into Badger Stone. During his life he would at times switch back to his given name and sign some of his works Michael Lynn Coelho, especially his prose. He never completely wiped out his birth name. He also signed some of songs and drawings with The Chief Scribe. And in some of Badge’s art he drew his Buddhist signature with its graphic characters.
Our father had two farms and this growing up rural and in the open air shaped my brother’s creative work. Living in this natural setting of Azorean dairymen gave him earthy insight and appreciation of the working man. The grand panoramic spirit of nature in the wild had in particular weaved its way into his song lyrics, and basically crystallized everything he thought as a person and everything he innovated as an artist. In all directions of his art and the various forms it took he gave tribute to the sweating professions. His song, A Prayer for the Common People’s Fame, testifies to his reverence of the working class who toiled with their hands.
I pray everyday you’ll find your way
And that you will make a home.
I pray everyday that you won’t go astray
And then be left all alone.
But when you’re down, I’ll be around
Like a clown to get you back on your feet.
I pray every night you’ll be all right, not uptight,
And be happy as you understand.
I pray every night you’ll see the light, so bright,
And come to shake my hand.
When you’re sad, I won’t be mad or treat you bad,
But drive you home from the street.
I pray every afternoon that you will soon see the moon
like you’ve never seen it before.
I pray that the sun will come to shine
As you run all along your early mornin’ shore.
It don’t pay to get lost ‘cause the cost
Is that no one will call out your name.
I pray every dawn you’ll see what’s wrong and then go on
And live your life as you really want.
I pray that the sunset won’t let you forget that
Your life is callin’, callin’ to the newbirth dawn.
That’s why I sing, to bring a golden ring
To show I’m engaged with the common people’s fame.
San Francisco, California, 1968
Badger was a folksinger in the sixties. He participated in protest rallies against the Viet Nam War at the University of Berkeley. He also was a champion of the struggle for equality in the Civil Rights Movement. He was a human rights activist and as founding publisher of Calling to the Sun Press he brought out benefit books to help aid afflicted people of the world. When he was only twenty years old, Joan Baez in her 1968 autobiography Daybreak, mentioned Badger’s song Napalm Blues. It was a big accomplishment for a country boy to be included in a mass media autobiography with famous people in history like Bertrand Russell, Gandhi, Lao-tse, Buddha, Martin Luther King, General Hurshey, the FBI, and on the same book page with Bob Dylan.
The dialogue in Joanie’s Phoebe chapter of Daybreak reads:
“Do you know Badger?”
“‘The Vietnameez people ain’t got no shoes. All
they got is the napalm blues.’ That’s what Badger
Have you heard about napalm?
It’s a gasoline jelly
it burns your arms and legs
and your back and your belly.
Napalm Blues, 1966, Frisco
Viet Nam Widow
In those Frisco years in his youth Badger was always on the edge of what was happening socially and politically. He had at times felt he had already done the things that others were doing in the “Movement” sense. He throws light on this when he comments on the civil disobedient classes Joan Baez was giving at her home.
“I didn’t even go to her Peace School. I had already read Gandhi. I figured I didn’t need the Peace School. After all, I was 21 years old and had written over 600 protest songs. It was Joanie who should have invited me in to sing to them; so I ended up throwing all those songs away after Farina died.”