Reviving the stirring Paul Amandes song
about the lot of a factory-worker and single mother
I recorded the country-style ballad The Quota, words and music by Paul Amandes, twice. On “The Way The Heart is Sculpted”, my 1993 album, with Peter Swenson and Dave Van Delinder. And on the video at WTTW in 1987, as part of Between the Times, a social justice musical on the right to work. We developed that show in response to the 1984 U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Pastoral on Economics, as a commission for Call to Action, a social justice organization I’d volunteered to sing for several years before. I toured Between the Times around the country, two daughters in tow, in over 13 states, staying in convents and college dorms. Between the Times received the 1989 World Communications Day Award from the Chicago Archdiocese. We even appeared for Pope John Paul II’s visit to San Antonio, hosted by Catholic Charities. (The Pope event itself was a disquieting scenario with heightened security, bomb-sniffing dogs, being frisked entering the back stage, and an abrupt end to our performance, to install the Pontiff behind a bullet proof shield!)
I’ll sing The Quota for the first time in decades today for a celebration for Call to Action founders in Chicago. It will be a reunion of the four original cast members: Paul and Tom (Saving Lincoln) Amandes, my sister Beth Ann, and me. In this photo I am pregnant with my second child Nia, who went on the road with me. Now I am a grandmother to Olive, her sister Meg’s little girl. Ah, the great circle of life.
For more about Call to Action go to: http://cta-usa.org/
LISTEN to The Quota here
And you know I wake up every mornin’
with my quota on my mind
It’s all the upward mobility I could ever find
Spend a few hour with my daughters, steal one for myself
but the bulk of my day, the bulk of my life
It’s my quota and me
The Quota is based on the true story of a factory worker Paul met during summer job stint in Cary, IL. He was on his way to college, she was going nowhere: “When I die, they’ll find machine oil flowing through my veins”. We included it in the section of the musical on the feminization of poverty, based on testimonials by real people. I sang it on the Studs Terkel show on WFMT in the mid 80s. His musical Working was getting lots of attention at the time and inspired Paul’s writing. “Great stuff!” Studs said, of our show, and our effort, always welcoming tenacious progressives into the studio, and tickled to see young people taking up the cause for social justice. He was inspired by the work of Dorothy Day, the Berrigan Brothers and many others he’d interviewed.
I appeared again with Studs in 1997, singing songs of the Spanish Civil War, from Pasiones, with Michael Smith. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade were great heroes to Studs in their fight against fascism. He loved those songs. We became friends. I appeared on stage with him many tines and sang for his Memorial. He said of my singing, ” Jamie especially gifted, with her vibrant voice and a passion for life.”