Rock and Roll Still the Music of America-Haters

Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” is not a patriotic song.

Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

The most jarring use of music I’ve seen in an advertisement in the past few years was the use of some lines from Clearance Clearwater Revival “Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they’re red, white, and blue”, feel good patriotism for a pick-up truck.

Of course, put the lyrics in context and… it’s about how some rich guy gets to duck Vietnam through special favours that put him in the Texas Air National Guard, but the protaganist– the poor schmuck —

And when the band plays “Hail to the Chief”
They point the cannon right at you

It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no senator’s son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one

That didn’t make too much sense, since… the lyrics are not clouded by any sentimentality.

John Mellancamp’s “Little Pink Houses”… well… you can excerpt some flag-waving, if you want.

Oh but ainít that america for you and me
Ainít that america weíre someting to see baby
Ainít that america, home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

… except for the fact that all the lines in the various verses tell stories of Disappointment, and settling for something less than expected, (and note the lines in the chorus: for you and me, as opposed to what the ruling elite have…:

Well thereís a young man in a t-shirt
Listening to a rockiní rolliní station
Heís got a greasy hair, greasy smile
He says: lord, this must be my destination
ícuz they told me, when I was younger
Boy, youíre gonna be president
But just like everyting else, those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

There are other songs that find its way into flag-waving demonstrations of various types. But I can’t think of them at the moment.

Suggestions being taken. I will have to update this entry later.

Leave a Reply