« Toll the Bell for the Polls, Part III | Main | Judge Him By The Company He Keeps: 1 »

May 12, 2008


saw man standing over a dead dog
by a highway in a ditch
he was lookin' kinda foolish
pokin' that dog with a stick
had his car door flung wide open
out on highway 31
like if he stood there long enough
that dog get up and run

and it struck me kind of funny
kind of funny sir indeed
that at the end of every hard won day
people find some reason to believe

mary lou loved johnny
with a love so mean and true
said "i'll work for you every day
and bring my money home to you."
one day he up and left her
and ever since all that
she waits down at the end of the dirt road
for young johnny won't come back

yeah, it's kind of funny
kind of funny sir indeed
how at the end of every hard earned day
people find some reason to believe

bruce springsteen

The first thing I thought of were the opening lyrics to the Springsteen song, which seems to sum up the plight of the GOP pretty well:

Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch

He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick

Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31

Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run

Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me

Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Great minds think alike, Minstrel!

Yeah, the Springsteen song is pretty great.


I posted this one once before. It's not quite "from my youth" as it dates from 1994. Still, it has become much more poignant lately

Dave Frishberg, My Country Used to Be

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the good old USA
And to the values for which it stood
The home, the family, the neighborhood
'Cause while it lasted it sure felt good

Now I pledge allegiance to the bank
To my fixed rate second mortgage
To my friendly auto insurance man
To the IRS to the medical plan
To whatever's about to hit the fan
Cause hit the fan it will
And we will pay the bill

My country used to be
Famous for quality
We led the way
Now we buy overseas
Then beg the Japanese
To buy some products please
Made in USA

My country used to be
Land of productivity
We stocked the store
Now we make paper trails
Mergers and mega-sales
And then when all else fails
We make arms for war

My country used to be
Land of opportunity
Second to none
My country once was proud
We stood above the crowd
No need to shout out loud
"We're No. 1"
I hope my children live to see
A land like my country used to be

There is also a website called Reasons to Believe which is a collection of science-hating religious evolution deniers. I'm sure they'll want to vote for Republicans.

The Republicans are also planning to frame themseles as running against Wasahington insiders. That's lying straightfaced, alright.

Bit late in the day for the Republican establishment to be talking about reasons to believe, when they've spent better than a decade giving us reasons to not believe. They're gonna be a LONG time in the wilderness before anybody is going to sensibly believe a Republican about fiscal rectitude or fighting corruption.

"Now I gotta say that it's not like before
And I'm not gonna play your games anymore
After what you did I can't stay on
And I'll probably feel a whole let better
When you're gone" - The Byrds.

Notwithstanding the fact that it represents Republican discontent with George W. Bush much better, lately I can't hear this without thinking of Hillary Clinton.


Here's a relevant song from my youth that's relevant.

Reason to Believe, by the way, was written by Tim Hardin, who became much more famous for the dreadful "If I Were a Carpenter," when in fact, "Reason to Believe" was so much better.

My youth actually wasn't that relevant . . .

Up To Me

Everything went from bad to worse, money never changed a thing,
Death kept followin', trackin' us down, at least I heard your bluebird sing.
Now somebody's got to show their hand, time is an enemy,
I know you're long gone,
I guess it must be up to me.

If I'd thought about it I never would've done it, I guess I would've let it slide,
If I'd lived my life by what others were thinkin', the heart inside me would've died.
I was just too stubborn to ever be governed by enforced insanity,
Someone had to reach for the risin' star,
I guess it was up to me.

Oh, the Union Central is pullin' out and the orchids are in bloom,
I've only got me one good shirt left and it smells of stale perfume.
In fourteen months I've only smiled once and I didn't do it consciously,
Somebody's got to find your trail,
I guess it must be up to me.

It was like a revelation when you betrayed me with your touch,
I'd just about convinced myself that nothin' had changed that much.
The old Rounder in the iron mask slipped me the master key,
Somebody had to unlock your heart,
He said it was up to me.

Well, I watched you slowly disappear down into the officers' club,
I would've followed you in the door but I didn't have a ticket stub.
So I waited all night 'til the break of day, hopin' one of us could get free,
When the dawn came over the river bridge,
I knew it was up to me.

Oh, the only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk
Was to haul your picture down off the wall near the cage where I used to work.
Was I a fool or not to try to protect your identity?
You looked a little burned out, my friend,
I thought it might be up to me.

Well, I met somebody face to face and I had to remove my hat,
She's everything I need and love but I can't be swayed by that.
It frightens me, the awful truth of how sweet life can be,
But she ain't a-gonna make me move,
I guess it must be up to me.

We heard the Sermon on the Mount and I knew it was too complex,
It didn't amount to anything more than what the broken glass reflects.
When you bite off more than you can chew you pay the penalty,
Somebody's got to tell the tale,
I guess it must be up to me.

Well, Dupree came in pimpin' tonight to the Thunderbird Cafe,
Crystal wanted to talk to him, I had to look the other way.
Well, I just can't rest without you, love, I need your company,
But you ain't a-gonna cross the line,
I guess it must be up to me.

There's a note left in the bottle, you can give it to Estelle,
She's the one you been wond'rin' about, but there's really nothin' much to tell.
We both heard voices for a while, now the rest is history,
Somebody's got to cry some tears,
I guess it must be up to me.

So go on, boys, and play your hands, life is a pantomime,
The ringleaders from the county seat say you don't have all that much time.
And the girl with me behind the shades, she ain't my property,
One of us has got to hit the road,
I guess it must be up to me.

And if we never meet again, baby, remember me,
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old-time melody.
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free,
No one else could play that tune,
You know it was up to me.

Copyright © 1974 Ram's Horn Music

i've been getting a lot of use out of Dylan's "Masters Of War" and its grungy stepchild, Sabbath's "War Pigs" since, oh... 2003 or so.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud


Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of deaths construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

check out this insanity at TalkLeft.

I'm thinkin' about making the next months rent (and all the other bills)

check out this insanity at TalkLeft.

Hah! You said you weren't going back there.

i've been getting a lot of use out of Dylan's "Masters Of War"

I always liked Eddie Vedder's version.

The last two verses express my feelings towards certain, uh, actors:

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Anybody who expects anything out of this government other than entertainment should have their head examined. Lots of people have allowed themselves to become dependent though.

The preacher man says it’s the end of time
And the Mississippi River she’s a goin’ dry
The interest is up and the Stock Markets down
And you only get mugged
If you go down town

I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Virtually the entire Phil Ochs songbook has been rendered newly relevant by the Bush Administration:

We know what an awful price he had to pay,
But the enemy was contained for another day,
We trained him well, he would have wanted it that way,
That's the sad and silent song of a soldier.

Oh, the weary wounded they wait by his side,
Wondering why they hadn't also died,
the picture of patriotic pride,
That's the sad and silent song of a soldier.

And the flag is at half mast wet with fallin' rain,
Ignored by the strangers he had helped to train,
To him it was duty; to them a game,
That's the sad and silent song of a soldier.

At Arlington he's lowered down without a pause,
And his native land welcomes him with open jaws,
And the tombstone reads such a noble cause,
That's the sad and silent song of a soldier.

Now a moment of silence for the broken man,
While the president proudly crows "we'll never bend",
And cheers their replacements marching off again,
That's the sad and silent song of a soldier.

- 'Song of a Soldier', from the box set Farewells and Fantasies

"Have any of your favorite songs from your youth suddenly acquired contemporary significance?"

Hey all, I wouldn't even mention it but it seems on point, this morning I finished up work on a video taking a song I never heard until this weekend (Peaceful World, by Mellencamp and India Arie, released in 2001) and put it together with some campaign imagery. Of course I wasn't young when the song came out, but it came out long enough ago to fit the whole category of songs that seem like they have contemporary significance... sorry for the lame linking to something I worked on, but being struck by the relevance caused me to do it in the first place. This is the original version that I cribbed with.

Having grown up in the relatively uneventful '90's, I can't think of any songs that really resonate politically. Closest I can think of are some of the tracks from Springsteen's "The Rising" which really summon up what I felt on 9/11 (and hence some of the emotions that underlie the reality of the world today) whenever I hear them, but that's not quite the same.. guess I haven't lived enough yet. ;)

I agree with Brett though that the Republicans are going to be toast for the forseeable future. The Reagan coalition really is in tatters with neoconservative style militarism thoroughly discredited and with demographics of the country becoming less white, less Christian, and less
socially conservative with every passing year. I suspect eventually a new fiscally conservative, socially liberal libertarianish center-right GOP will emerge, but perhaps not before a few election cycles lost in the wilderness.
Bush has not only made a huge mess for the country, he's inflicted historic damage on his own party. It's hard to believe that as recently as a few years ago people still thought Karl Rove was some kind of political evil genius.

(No) Free Lunch:
There is also a website called Reasons to Believe which is a collection of science-hating religious evolution deniers.

I'm finding it rather hard to believe that this is just a coincidence, actually. When I saw this post, that group was my first thought, and it's right out of the Rovian play book: sell out pandering to the evangelical base.

"Reasons To Believe"? I thought it was supposed to be "Change You Deserve".

I like the latter better. It sounds like a stern father saying, "I'll give you the change you deserve!".

Does "Reason to Believe" replace "The Change You Deserve"? I guess copying song lyrics is a step up from pirating anti-depressant drug sales slogans. At least "Reason to Believe" isn't trademarked.

Reasons to Change What You Believe You Deserve?

"Little Boy Soldiers" by The Jam gives me a chill these days:

Come outside, I'll sing you a lullaby
Tell a tale, how goodness prevailed.
We ruled the world, we killed and robbed
The f**king lot - but we don't feel bad.
It was done beneath the flag of democracy

Who among us could forget Poison's 1980's classic rock ballad "Something to Believe In"? Then again, maybe it's best forgotten.

Yeah, Trips, thanks. It *was* forgotten until just now.

how about Randy Newman: Political Science

No one likes us
I don't know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
And they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them.

Now Asia's crowded
And Europe's too old.
Africa's far too hot,
And Canada's too cold.
And South America stole our name.
Let's drop the big one; there'll be no one left to blame us.

We'll save Australia;
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo.
We'll build an all-American amusement park there;
They've got surfing, too.

Well, boom goes London,
And boom Paris.
More room for you
And more room for me.
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town.
Oh, how peaceful it'll be;
We'll set everybody free;
You'll have Japanese kimonos, baby,
There'll be Italian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow,
So let's drop the big one now.
Let's drop the big one now.

Mark Heard, "Is It Any Wonder", from Tribal Opera:

i had a dream, it was a mystery
i dreamed of science and of history
i dreamed that since we stood up out of the dust
we formed our words on lips of beauty and trust
i should've known better than that
i should've known better than that
everything looks different in the morning

is it any wonder
is it any wonder
is it any wonder we dare to live in our dreams
is it any wonder
is it any wonder
is it any wonder we scare ourselves with our screams

i had a dream, it was a comedy
i dreamed i made a documentary
i looked in closets for the skeleton bones
i found them empty save for measures of gold
i should've known better than that
i should've known better than that
everything looks different in the morning

Daniel Amos, "It's the Eighties, So Where's Our Rocket Packs?", from Vox Humana:

It's the eighties
It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs
It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs?
Go anywhere, we strap them on our backs
1. (It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs?)
I thought by now I'd walk the moon
And ride a car without no tires
And have a robot run the vacuum
And date a girl made out of wires
No thing's don't change that much, do they?
We are still out of touch, by now we should discover
Just how to love each other, like Klattus' robot man
Your looks have killed again

2. (It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs?)
I thought by now we'd live in space
And eat a pill instead of dinner
And wear a gas mask on our face a President of female gender
Though progress marches on, (new day)
Our troubles will grow strong
And my expectancies, become my fantasies
You turn my blood to sand, the earth stands still again

My hopes are running low
things moving much too slow
No space men up above
And we're still so very far from love

3. (It's the eighties so where's our rocket packs?)
I thought by now we'd build a dome
Around the world, control the weather
In every house, a picture phone; communicate a little better
But some things never change (replay!)
You are still acting strange
No way that I can see, this way we will be free
La la la la la la,la la la la la 7,6,5,4,3,2,1 Lift off!

(And the utterly ineffable "Autographs for the Sick", also from the crazies in Daniel Amos. This song is about as close as John Thullen: The Musical as one is likely to find without digging out early Zappa.)

I've always been... mm, not fond of, but bemused by Don McLean's Everybody Loves Me, Baby. (That McLean is generally only remembered for "American Pie" and, perhaps, "Vincent" is a crying shame.)

Well, everyone here has their high-minded song in mind. Me, whenever I hear "Reason to Believe", I hear "Elvis Is Dead" by Living Colour:

I've got a reason to believe
We all won't be received at Graceland
I've got a reason to believe
We all won't be received at Graceland

Because Elvis Is Dead.

Video here

The comments to this entry are closed.