There is an important story behind this song…
In the time my husband and I were living in Australia for three months, we often take spontaneous planned weekends to retreats or nature parks to try and have the fullest experience of a place so far from home. This one particular weekend we decided to head off to Phillip Island – a small island on the tip of Australia that is full of wild life and fun things to do. After a four hour whale spotting trip that was amazing but made me feel a little sick, we stopped by an “eco-zoo” to have time with some indigenous animals and our feet on the earth.
I spoke to the lady at our entrance and I asked, after seeing all the many wallabies and kangaroos around me,
“Do you set them free when they are well enough?” I said – assuming they were all there, in such numbers for rehabilitation.
“Oh no – we’re not allowed to do that. We breed them”. She looked at me blankly.
“You breed them? ” I said too loudly – astonished. “But there are SO many in Australia already” _ sputtered “Even dead all over the roads! and so many are injured, baby’s without mothers…” I couldn’t continue. I was starting to feel sick. We moved along once the admission lady got that glazed look in her eye like people who can’t stand to be around people like me because we cause them an internal moral disturbance with these obvious observations.
Entering the eco zoo, we could see that all of the animals were very well cared for. Cages were clean, and animals were all friendly and approachable, most of the Kangaroos and wallabies were in free pens we could visit them in. A swan began tailing us right away, and we fed it and chatted happily as we played with baby wallabies. But as this wondrous little adventure went on, we moved further into the park, and closer to the birds.
It was about 4 o’clock by this time which is when all of the birds and huge flocks of free cockatoos and parrots come out for their nightly romp, screeching joyfully through the air in massive flock numbers, littering the trees with their colour, like flashes of magical white appearing suddenly where before there was only 200 shades of green.
Suddenly over our head there was a massive chaotic explosion of screeching birds – maybe 30 or 40 cockatoos all flying darting from one tree to another. They were obviously addressing the dozen or so cocky’s in the large enclosure cage, which sent them all reeling. I stood still for along time and watched – one leader free cocky in particular who found a tree and opening his 3 foot wingspan began to call to all the cockatoos in the area in his massive voice – he looked incredibly regal like a King of the birds calling his troops. In immediate response, all of the the zoo birds went absolutely hysterical, screeching, wide eyed, calling, and bounding around in their cages.
Then through all the cacophony (and I really know where that word comes form now) this one little sweet voice cuts through very gently and I hear;
I see him right away – on the opposite side of the cage, looking straight at me.
“Hello poppet ” I respond trying to smile.
He rushes to my side of the enclosure, and I feel him melt against my chest into my heart through the mesh wires, warm and soft and gentle. That’s when my heart simply broke.
So I did what I only know how to do when I am terribly sad…I began to sing. And I sang him the only song I can when I am so sad…Three Little Birds by Bob Marley.
“Don’t worry…about a thing…cause every little thing, is gonna be alright”. My voice was choking there was no way to sing this without crying. This must be my go to song when my heart is breaking – the last time I sang it was to my mom as she was dying.
He stayed and stayed, quiet, listening to the soft cadence of the song, concerned with my tears looking into my face with wonder. I sang it over and over like a mantra for us while absolute insanity happened all around us. For a few minutes – I really don’t know how long – we were happy he and I there in the sun together. Really happy like we were in a bubble of love, a protective space, and I am sure he knew how much one person cold love another thing then cause that feeling bounced back and forth between us.
Suddenly he did the most awesome and terrifying thing…all at once.
Remaining in front of me he moved back just a little, shivered all over and spread his huge wide massive white wings, like angels in front of me. He raised his awesome golden crown and began to SCREAM AS LOUD AS HE COULD, holding my eyes like steel. I could feel the warm air of his breath going into my own open mouth. I was completely rooted and equally transported. Holding my eyes with his unblinking – it was the most frantic display of emotion I have ever seen. It washed over me, through me and into me. I felt it vibrate in my throat, in my head – and I was completely unable to step away. I recall some funny voice in my head – the “Josee” voice saying – “wow dude, it’s really ironic you’re going to go deaf from a bird and not your band…”
But we stayed together, because I didn’t want him to have all of that inside him alone. It felt like I was taking “it” – the sadness, frustration, fear – for him. I felt it with him.
Eventually my husband dragged me away, he didn’t like seeing me cry like that and he had spotted a massive eagle in captivity around the corner which he predicted would be my breaking point so he was rushing me out of the “eco-zoo” by then.
Walking away, leaving the zoo, didn’t remove this bird from me – it made him stronger in me. He stayed with me, night after night, until finally one night I simply saw his face again, like a flash in my mind – the spread out wings, wide open eyes and screaming voice – and I heard…
HEEEEEYYYYY HEY YAH!
I felt like a warrior inside – a scream from a deep place I had not yet met. I felt all our Mowawk, Ojibwe, MigMAg – all our tribes inside me at once. It was incredibly power.
Like a mighty cry, I saw the faces of our Native family at home – the beautiful colours, the feathers and the respect we have for their wisdom of the land. I felt like it was MY war cry…from my heart.
Then I felt helpless.
What could ONE little middle aged housewife from Canada do about ALL the caged birds in the world?? In fact, what could I possibly do about ALL the caged animals that broke my heart all over the world?
Having boycotted zoos most of my life, including never taking my kids to one, just wasn’t enough.
Who am I? Just one person right?
So, I did what I do. I wrote a song.
The idea of it expanded. I wanted a song that represented the world need to “uncage ” EVERYTHING that is imprisoned and respect all of our native roots – the ONLY roots that will hold any hope for this planet. Australia is JUST on the brink of beginning to understand the power and importance of our indigenous people, and I wanted to be a part of bringing that beauty here. So, with my friends Dave and Regine at Devine Drum Studio in mind, who are bringing African drumming to our cold land back home, I integrated an indigenous beat and a rhythm that is also appropriate for drumming to honour our connection to the earth and to encourage people who are not usually musicians to sing and play drums, dance and be a part of this song.
What I want to say to YOU is – SING WITH ME! Don’t be afraid to get REALLY LOUD at the end…I’m sure cocky can hear your love! Or maybe they can hear you in Tibet or some other caged in place that needs our collective voice.
I wrote Cocky’s song, at least the majority of it, very quickly no edits. It was “one of those” – easy, simple and free flowing. Singing it makes me happy and cry all at the same time.
Our neighbour a local Aussie old hippie called Bruce, named the song “Cockey’s Song” – a very common expression in Australia – they tend to shorten everything into something fast and friendly. A “cockey” – is a beloved animal in Australia.
When I reread the lyrics I had written it struck me that Cocky’s song may not be unique to him only – It made me think of everyone who is stuck in a cage” – so many cages. Ones we build, ones we are given…we all have them.
You can decide what has happened to cocky by the end of the song – but inevitably, we all get out of the cage one way – or the other.
I would like to play this song everywhere – and hear all of the peoples voices singing with it.
So – CHEERS MATE!
Here’s to flying free in blue skies!
COCKY’S SONG (lyrics)
(Heyyyyy….hey yah! Heyyy yah Heyyy yahx2) x 2
I see my friends fly in the sky
I can’t go with them and I don’t know why.
I must have done something wrong,
Maybe someone didn’t like my song?
But I sang Heyyyyyy hey yah – get me out of here, get me out of here x2
I heard of freedom once in a song
It sounded so silly, I thought they must be wrong
Each day I try to spread my wings
But that doesn’t change much of anything….
So I sing.. (Chorus) hey ya – “get me out of here…” x2
My heart it aches to touch a cloud
I dream about it When there’s no one around
But I put on a show for all to see
All those blind eyes,
Staring back at me
And we sing – “heyyy get us out of here, get us out of here…” x2
She sings a song to the little bird
He seems to listen To every word
She told him we were very wrong
To keep him in And stop his song
And we sang Heyyyyy heyy yah – get them out of there, get them out of there…” x2
Then one day it did come true,
The cage was gone And the sky so blue!
I saw my friends way down below
Now there’s no place I can’t go!
And I sing…hey heyyy yah – I’m out of here I’m out of here x2
Back to intro hay ya…with an “amen heya” scat to end.,,,
My rough unproduced initial recording of this song and video is available for download on a couple of my pages.
I am giving this song to you freely. However, if you feel a tug at your heart, please make a donation to
Cockey and I thank you for singing along!