The right to bear arms doesn’t mean each man can be his own private army. We have been paralyzed on this issue for too long as our children are being  gunned down. I can’t take it any more. Can you?”                                           – Elliot Schneider

Elliot Schneider and Carmen Castro, the friendly co-hosts of Grok Rock Radio are pushing  what might be the first stand-out rock protest song since the ’60s.  Schneider wrote “I Second That Amendment Blues”  in the aftermath of the Parkland shootings. His soulmate, Castro is a multi-instrumentalist on the song.

Elliot was inspired to write the protest tune after the tragic shootings in Florida on Valentines Day.  A gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and more than 300 rounds of ammunition killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.  The students have been continuing a compelling and organized movement against gun violence ever since.

Elliot and Carmen sat down to chat about the song, their activism, and about themselves. They are excited that “I Second That Amendment Blues” is having such a great deal of success. 

Maureen Pietoso:  Tell us about “I Second That Amendment Blues.” What is the theme?

Elliot:  This satirical yet passionate song sprang out of me two days after the terrifying murders of the children and teachers in Parkland, Florida. Now we are  launching it into the turbulent seas of human emotion as a life raft or a call to (loving) arms; this is for the children and their battle for the soul of America. With young people like this, I have hope for our planet. We must never despair, and we must never give up.                   

Maureen Pietoso: Your song has been steadily charting internationally in the UK, Canada and in Germany.  This seems to be the first protest rock song that we’ve heard since the ’60s. 

Elliot Schneider: I am awed that you think my song is the first powerful protest song since the ’60s, especially knowing that you were friends with the late Pete Seeger, the father of protest songs during those magical but turbulent times.

Right now, I am dancing on the ceiling because “I Second That Amendment Blues” just hit NUMBER ONE at Q108 in Kingston, Ontario, Canada for the week of April 9th.  It has also entered the Top 30 in Osnabrück, Germany at 104.8 FM Radio Marabu. Two hundred and fifty college radio stations around the U.S. received the CD, and were expected to add the single to their playlists on April 10th.

So I’m very hopeful that our new song will continue to make an impression now that the college stations have received it.

Maureen:  Have any of the Parkland student activists heard your song yet? If so, what was their response?

Elliot: I’m not really sure. If they have heard it and it moved them, I would probably melt. These young people are my new heroes. As the beloved protesters of the ’60s intoned: “We Shall Overcome.”

Maureen:  What is the most moving compliment you have received about your song?

Elliot: I was moved by Dave Franklin, a UK critic who said, “A wave of motivated kids are currently putting the politicians to shame and Elliot Schneider has just provided them with the perfect soundtrack.” His words touched me. I wrote the song two days after the tragedy in Parkland. It was wrenched from deep inside of me and just poured out of me.

Maureen: What initially caused you to become concerned about gun violence?

Elliot: After the 2012 massacre of little children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, my letter was published in The San Francisco Chronicle on December 18th.  I wrote, “How can we live like this? We have to act against the madness. Every single life is a universe. And every senseless death is an entire universe snuffed out. The Second Amendment doesn’t mean you can have an atomic bomb or an ICBM to reign terror on your neighbors’ headThe right to bear arms doesn’t mean each man can be his own private army. We have been paralyzed on this issue for too long as our children are being gunned down. I can’t take it any more. Can you?”

As you can see,  some of the lyrics for my new song, “I Second That Amendment Blues” were in my mind even then. These are thoughts I’ve had for decades.  

Maureen:   Is it frightening to write a controversial song in modern times? 

Elliot: Having almost died from breast cancer,  I can face the faceless hordes of haters without too much fear. In fact, in New York in 1981, I leaped around a knife wielded by a madman in the middle of the night. When I was two, my mother died of breast cancer at the age of 27. And my father died of a broken heart at 48. 

 I have always wanted to stand for something. I became an AP US History and Philosophy teacher. It was an honor to teach those kids. And I guess I still want to protect them. Life is so precious, so fragile. In my song, “Daddy’s Gone,” I wrote: “Our lives are like dewdrops / Momentary rainbows / We shine for a moment / All so very dreamlike”

I never recorded that one yet for some reason. It’s about my father and it’s very emotional. Perhaps I will for my next album.

Maureen:  Carmen, do you think “I Second That Amendment Blues” might spark a resurgence in protest music or perhaps add more steam to the anti-gun movement?

Carmen: I think now that we have social media like Facebook and Twitter it is possible to reach many people who feel that America has a gun control problem. Also, the college radio stations are very influential in activism. This song is currently being played heavily on a number of shows at MIT’s WMBR. They have several DJ’s with political shows that have heavily embraced it. Since this movement is like wildfire with the upcoming generation, I believe that a resurgence of both protest songs united with the current youthful spirit of activism is quite possible.

Maureen: Carmen, tell us what was it like for soulmates to work together on this song? 

Carmen: We were both in tears listening to the horror these teenagers had gone through. The great loss of life was devastating to witness let alone experience firsthand. Then Elliot sat on my living room floor with his guitar and this song began to pour out of him. Almost immediately, I went to my baby grand piano and started to play around with the melody that Elliot had written. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of passion. We still haven’t stopped. Playing with Elliot is a joy. I automatically link in to his vision and it becomes my own. Once this magic begins, there is no stopping.


Elliot Schneider and Carmen Castro

Maureen:  How did you two meet?

Elliot: We met when I was a teacher and Carmen’s son was in my class back in 1992. There was an immediate attraction…

Carmen: My son’s class was notorious for hassling teachers. Three of them fled in tears the first two months. Then Elliot Schneider came along. Instantly, the class was transformed into involved interested students! I had to meet this man. I saw Elliot with his short haircut and black rimmed glasses and thought immediately “You are not fooling anyone! In ten minutes I could have you up against the wall going crazy!” Later on we were to write and record our first co-composition called: “You’ve Got Me Up Against The Wall.” Many years later, my husband, who was a musician, passed away and so did all of his music. Elliot was currently being treated for cancer. I thought to myself as I heard his music…not again. #NeverAgain. I made it my mission in life to get Elliot’s music OUT THERE! During his very first public performance in decades, we were alone for the first time. That very night, we looked into each other’s eyes and realized that we were deeply in love.

Maureen:  In the future, do you feel your song might help stop gun violence?

Elliot: It is very difficult to reshape the nature of humanity. We spring from chimpanzees that are very violent towards neighboring tribes of the same species. Our human ancestors were primarily concerned with survival for millennia. But this makes it all the more urgent that we try to transcend all this. Now we are at a time when survival as a species requires the very opposite of what once worked for primitive (wo)man. We are one press of a button from extinction. We must love people beyond our own tribe or disappear from the Earth. John Lennon had to work through his own violent impulses before he could become the man who wrote, “Imagine.”

I do imagine—and if my song can help in any small way to bring about peace for anybody at all, it would be awe-inspiring!

Maureen: I enjoy hearing your music each week on a radio program that you and Carmen co-host, called Grok Rock Radio. Your songs are very catchy. Tell us about some of your other current music.

Elliot:  My recent album, “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase,” was released in July, 2017.  It reached NUMBER ONE at a number of college stations including WLFR 91.7 FM near Atlantic City and WMUH 91.7 FM in the third largest city in Pennsylvania: Allentown. On the National Charts, it reached #59 on The Muzooka Radio Charts—and #63 on their weighted charts—the week of September 13, 2017.

Maureen:  What is your goal for your song, “I Second That Amendment Blues?”

Elliot:  I’m not interested in money. I just want to help those eloquent but haunted kids in Parkland and elsewhere get their message across. Too many innocent children have died. I can’t live with that. Feel free to share the lyrics of “I Second That Amendment Blues” with your readers.

I Second That Amendment Blues (lyrics)

I want my own A-Bomb
I’ve got rights like you
I want my own A-Bomb
I want an ICBM too
So you pray but they still shoot
Let me pry away their guns
God helps those who help themselves
Your prayers are falling on dead ears
You say guns don’t kill but
People will
A mad man with a butter knife
Won’t cause that much strife
A submachine gun in his hand
And it is a savage land
I second that amendment blues
I second that amendment blues
How many children will we kill?
The NRA is paying the bill
I want my own A-Bomb
I’ve got rights like you
I want my own A-Bomb
I want an ICBM too
You say guns don’t kill but
People will
A mad man with a butter knife
Won’t cause that much strife
A submachine gun in his hand
And it is a savage land
I second that amendment blues
I second that amendment blues
How many children will we kill?
The NRA is paying the bill

The musicians on this track include: drummer Dave Scheff of the legendary band “Translator;” guitarists Mark Banning and K.C. Cormack; vocals by Mark Newstetter; bass player Tyler Jensen; keyboardist Carmen Castro;  and lead vocals and one high falsetto harmony by Elliot Schneider. Brad Barth was The Recording Engineer.


 “I Second That Amendment Blues” can be purchased from for $0.99 by clicking the link below



Excellent stuff—that guy’s got swagger!” 
Spencer Leigh, BBC Radio Merseyside, Liverpool

 It’s impossible to classify him, categorize him, deny, defy or crucify him. Everything about him invites skepticism; you know right off he’s either a total flake or a total genius.”                  –Cary Tennis (’s renowned columnist for a 14-year span)SF WEEKLY

“I have been loving your new CD. I cranked it up all the way home from Ray Davies at the Fillmore. I keep it close in my car for instant pick up…” 
–Annalisa, was the iconic DJ at KFOG in San Francisco for decades



Review in ‘The Swindonian’ of “I Second That Amendment Blues”

San Jose Mercury News Feature Article About My Beating Cancer (and returning to rock and roll)

San Jose Mercury “News Picture Of the Week” of Me

The 2012 Video “If Looks Could Kill, I’d Wear Mirror Sunglasses”

Free Listen of “I Second That Amendment Blues” on SoundCloud:

“I Second That Amendment Blues” Available at CD Baby:

“I Second That Amendment Blues” at Amazon:

“I Second That Amendment Blues” at iTunes:

“Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase” CD:

“Better A Fool Than Aloof” CD:

“If Looks Could Kill, I’d Wear Mirror Sunglasses” CD:


  1. WoW!! I’m sooo impressed! Elliot, Carmen & their band deserve so many good things! They are 2 of the most compassionate people I know & I love them & their wonderful music!!!🎶🎶🎶


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here