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Posts Tagged ‘new jersey senator bruce springsteen’

A lot of protest music has been written over the last eight years: some good, some not so much.  (Neil, you know I love you, but “let’s impeach the President for lying” is just lazy.)  Amidst this, the old standards have also been dragged out for a walk around the blockThe master himself recently endorsed Hopey, a surprising move for a man who disdains movement politics and once dismissed Phil Ochs as “a journalist, not a folk singer,”  (Speaking of Ochs, law students are advised to read his 1968 DNC testimony.  They ain’t makin’ witnesses like that any more.)

Hidden on the greatest album ever, Bob Dylan’s 1965 “Tombstone Blues” lacks the star power of his bigger stuff.  It’s a surrealist pastiche, aimlessly namedropping heroes and outlaws in a directionless, glancing swipe at authority.  It’s also, chewing on the lyrics, a forceful assault on the hucksters and hypocrites inhabiting the America we inherit.  And so, marginally drunk and annotated with apropos linkage (some sections more relevant than others,) Bob Dylan’s (long) Tombstone Blues:

“The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course
The city fathers they’re trying to endorse
The reincarnation of Paul Revere’s horse
But the town has no need to be nervous

The ghost of Belle Starr she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun she violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the chamber of commerce

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

The hysterical bride in the penny arcade
Screaming she moans, “I’ve just been made”
Then sends out for the doctor who pulls down the shade
Says, “My advice is to not let the boys in

Now the medicine man comes and he shuffles inside
He walks with a swagger and he says to the bride
“Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it’s not poison”

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

Well, John the Baptist after torturing a thief
Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
Saying, “Tell me great hero, but please make it brief
Is there a hole for me to get sick in?

The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing  a fly
Saying, “Death to all those who would whimper and cry
And dropping a barbell he points to the sky
Saying, “The sun’s not yellow, it’s chicken

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

The king of the Philistines his soldiers to save
Puts jawbones on their tombstones and flatters their graves
Puts the pied pipers in prison and fattens the slaves
Then sends them out to the jungle

Gypsy Davey with a blowtorch he burns out their camps
With his faithful slave Pedro behind him he tramps
With a fantastic collection of stamps
To win friends and influence his uncle

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in trouble
With the tombstone blues

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone
Causes Galileo’s math book to get thrown
At Delilah who’s sitting worthlessly alone
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter

Now I wish I could give Brother Bill his great thrill
I would set him in chains at the top of the hill
Then send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille
He could die happily ever after

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues

Where Ma Raney and Beethoven once unwrapped their bed roll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

Mama’s in the fact’ry
She ain’t got no shoes
Daddy’s in the alley
He’s lookin’ for food
I’m in the kitchen
With the tombstone blues.”

If you’ve never actually heard the song, it’s actually bouncy and fun and fantastic; it’s just a coincidence that it so neatly captures our Long National Nightmare 2.0:

And if that didn’t cheer you up, here’s what deserves to be the most overplayed song from now until January 20:

In this post alone you’ve got links for Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sam Cooke, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs, Kinky Friedman, and the Rolling Stones.  You know you wouldn’t get this from any other blog.

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As we recently discussed, the Obama team has perfected the zeitgeist campaign.  Some of it is intentional, (the text messages, the basketball,) while the rest (the internet memes) just sorta happens.  Music is another important element of this.  Everyone knows Republicans make poor DJs, and Senator Obama has collected an impressive variety of musical endorsements.

Democrats always pwn music.  Even sad-sack John Kerry had future Senator Bruce Springsteen.  But, as the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted today, Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, and Bon Jovi were always the headliners; fans would literally come for the band and leave from the candidate.  Obama is the star, and his campaign has picked perfect music to augment his aura:

“Two songs, however, are used to define the campaign. One is the arrival anthem, that plays Barack Obama onto the stage. It is U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” – with its line “oh you look so beautiful tonight.”

It’s a stunning song, combining a real Phil Spector sound with a crowd-pleasing hook.  They also nailed it on Biden, bringing him out to Springsteen’s “The Rising.”  It may be a little too 9/11, but Springsteen acolyte (and legitimate Reverend) Jeffrey Symykywicz makes the case for why it works, and most importantly it just feels right.

Choosing campaign songs is not as easy as it looks.  Hillary’s people flubbed it with Celine freakin’ Dion, John Edwards’ schtick was Mellencampy, and poor McCain-Palin keeps getting sued.  So back to the other song Hewitt identified as central to the campaign:

“…after his speech, when he lifts the bottle of water to his lips, in comes the heavy beat and then Stevie Wonder’s scream in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

It’s an awesome song from an all-time great American musician – it’s easy to forget that the man’s been on the charts since 1963.

In the key of Stevie, an African-American friend of mine said something worth closing with.  I had been talking about the cultural relevence of Bob Dylan to my family, the kind of people who raise their kids on Phil Ochs and Joan Baez, edited up a “liberation haggadah” for Passover, and distribute “Rise Up Singing” as a graduation gift.  We were driving somewhere discussing this when Stevie comes on his CD player.  My friend turns to me and goes: “What Bob Dylan means to your mother, that’s what Stevie Wonder means to black people.”

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Mireille’s post on Republican DJs reminded me of National Review Online’s list of the top 50 conservative rock songs.  The Review has a complex relationship with rock music, praising Elvis’ appeal to “love” and “heterosexual sex” while criticizing the emergence of “homosexual rock”.

So this is really too easy, but it’s worth a rundown of the top 50.  It’s also cheap, considering that the author concedes “In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals.”  That said, it would be understandable if a handful of the ditties were simply misplaced leftists standing athwart history.  But when it’s everyone, a pattern emerges.  So without further:

1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who

The Tommy rockers also cranked out “My Generation,” the classic don’t trust anyone over 30 anthem.  “Hope I die before I get old?”  This one made the list for its counterrevolutionary message, but the drug war is over and Keith Moon won.

2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles

The Review calls this “a George Harrison masterpiece,” and it is musically impressive.  What the author fails to note is that the Beatles name-dropped conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath in addition to liberal Harold Wilson.  Oh and imagine there’s no heaven, but you knew that already and it applies to the #7 song on the list, “Revolution,” as well…

Alright call me lazy but that’s only two and it’s too late in the evening to keep processing a list that claims conservatism from U2, the Sex Pistols, and for Christ-in-a-bucket’s sake The Clash.  (If Joe Strummer saw this he would never stop throwing up.)

Some of the list just sucks as music.  Der Kommissar GodzillaCreed and Kid Rock?

Sorry for all the horrible music posted above.  Here’s the full list if you get motivated to chew through it.  Or alternately, here’s Senator Bruce Springsteen performing Atlantic City to clear your system.

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Last night while watching the final act of the RNC convention, I noticed they played “Barracuda” as an homage to Palin’s high school basket ball nickname while the balloons dropped and I wondered to myself if Heart was cool with the RNC using their song.

Apparently not.

In a statement issued earlier today, Nancy Wilson said:

“Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The ‘barracuda’ represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there’s irony in Republican strategists’ choice to make use of it there.”

This isn’t the first time Republicans have (rightfully) gotten flack for using songs written by leftist. Reagan’s misuse of that particular antiwar ballad by Springsteen is well known but fewer people know that John Mellencamp sent a cease and desist letter to the Mccain camp during the primary because they kept playing “Our Country“. Mellencamp was an Edwards man because, you know, populists with the accents of good ol’ boys got to stick together.

The common thread of these songs are that they’re overwhelmingly inappropriate for the RNC if you actually listen to the lyrics. I mean come on–Female empowerment against sexist business practices? Compassion (in the form of social services) for the working class? Anti-War anything? Now maybe I’m not giving the GOP enough credit–Maybe they’re just so mind-blowingly POMO that my provincial mind cannot wrap my head around it. Sort of like playing Rage Against the Machine to torture prisoners at Gitmo. They’re not appropriating these things out of ignorance, but out of sheer spite toward the liberals who love them.

Hey, it’s possible!

–Maybe.

And now, a word from New Jersey Senator Bruce Springsteen.

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