Music postsThursday July 04, 2013
Song of the Day
-- David Bowie, “Young Americans,” 1975
See also: “American Car,” “American Idiot,” “American Tune,” “American without Tears.”
Song of the Day: 'Tired of Being Alone' by Al Green
Patricia's brother Jack posted this on Facebook the other day. Two words: Holy shit.
I've been paying so little attention to the news this week that I didn't know why the five living presidents got together, why George H.W. Bush was wearing pink socks (which I liked), and why George W., his ne'er-do-well son (and a truer compound adjective was never used), was the center of attention. Then I read past the headlines: The George W. Bush Presidential Library. Cue “The Pet Goat” jokes.
Seeing W. with H.W., and surrounded by Dems, and hearing echoes of the usual bullshit from the far right, who seem to know nothing but the smell of their own bullshit these days (I'm talking the FOX-News/Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck triumverate), I flashed back to a good early 1990s R.E.M. song called “Drive.” Great opening lyrics. Back then, it really fit H.W. and the War on Drugs. Now it fits W. and his War on Terror. Astonishly so.
Smack, crack, bushwhacked
Tie another one to the racks, baby
Hey kids, rock and roll
Nobody tells you where to go, baby
The smack/crack is for the first Bush, tying another one to the racks for the second.
There are about two dozen videos of the song on YouTube, none particularly good, but the song's genius. Love the dead way Michael Stipe sings, “Nobody tells you where to go. Baby.”
Ollie Ollie in come free.
Hey kids, shake a leg/ Maybe you're crazy in the head, baby
My State of the Union
Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the ageís most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, itís all right, itís all right
Itís all right, itís all right
You canít be forever blessed
Still, tomorrowís going to be another working day
And Iím trying to get some rest
Thatís all Iím trying to get some rest
-- Paul Simon, “American Tune,” 1973
I was dicking around YouTube last night and came across this clip of Paul Simon singing “American Tune” on the old “Dick Cavett Show” in September 1974--a month after Richard Nixon resigned, which was a few months after my parents separated. It's a melancholy song but I was feeling particularly melancholy last night so it really sunk in. Particularly that last stanza. Since the State of the Union is tonight, I thought I'd share.
A Song for Today: Our Song
The news is bad from Newtown, Conn., as we all know. I don't have words. But here's a song: “Our Song” by Joe Henry. This is the chorus, written near the end of the George W. Bush years:
This was my country
This was my song
Somewhere in the middle there
Though it started badly and it's ending wrong
This was my country
This frightful and this angry land
But it's my right if the worst of it might still
Somehow make me a better man
A lot of commentary about the tragedy in the usual places. Good. There should be commentary. There should be anger. There should be yelling. One of the better things I read came from a reader on Andrew Sullivan's site, who wrote:
Guns don't kill people - people do. By the same token, planes don't kill people - people flying them into buildings do. And yet, I recall that we immediately and decisively worked to keep deranged people from gaining possession of planes when a handful of those people used them as tools of mass murder; indeed, we made it much more difficult for the overwhelming majority of peaceful, law-abiding citizens to board a plane.
Maybe I'm missing something, but this strikes me as a good metaphor to get both sides talking. We're not interested in outlawing guns any more than we are in outlawing planes. We just have to make sure they don't keep winding up in the hands of nutjobs. Are you with us or against us?
Gun control advocates (including me) may be past that point, though. There's a lot of anger out there now. This feels like it may be a turning point in the debate: a moment so awful that the need to fucking do something already overwhelmed the general desire to shrug and move on and let the NRA have its way.
Let's hope. Let's hope this stops being our song.