Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In Appreciation of: Songs That Taught Us About Social Justice

Doug: Today I'd like to celebrate some songs from my kidhood that really contributed to the development of my social conscience. Now I don't want to state any sort of political agenda in doing so, but if you have to pin a liberal agenda or leaning on me, then so be it. I think the examples here bespeak a higher agenda than anything you'd find in your state capital or Washington, DC -- these songs just seem right.

Doug: Maybe I'm a johnny-come-lately to this sort of thought, but it was really my college years (1984-88) that expanded my tastes in music,
which served to manifest in me an interest in national and international news and social issues. The art of local Midwesterner John Mellencamp (nee Johnny Cougar and John Cougar Mellencamp -- I just love his anthem to the Midwest Pink Houses), pianist Bruce Hornsby, Phil Collins, and others made us think about how we relate to our fellow humans. Mellencamp's work with Farm-Aid called out the large farm conglomerates that pushed the family farmer into hard times. Hornsby and Collins sang about the downtrodden and homeless. And in listening to this music, my interests expanded, reaching into the past to artists like Neil Young and some early REO Speedwagon.

Doug: Politically, I could go on about U2's Bullet the Blue Sky and Don Henley's End of the Innocence -- maybe that will be for another time.

Doug: Below I've posted some lyrics to favorite songs from the '80's, and I've also included Young's Southern Man, which Lynyrd Skynyrd famously chastised in their mega-hit Sweet Home Alabama. Enjoy the poetry. Give it some thought.

Hot Dogs and Hamburgers: John Mellencamp

Drivin' down on a dry summer's day

Old Route 66 and I was just a kid

Met a pretty little Indian girl

Along the way

Got her into my car

And tried to give her a kiss

I'll give you beads and wampum

Whatever it takes, girl, to make you trade

She jumped into the back seat

And she kinda flipped her lid

She said you're tryin' to get something for nothing

Like the Pilgrims in the olden days


We rode for a while till the sun went away

And I realized it was sort of an honor
Bein' around this girl
I felt embarrassed
Of what I tried to do earlier that day

She was the saddest girl I ever knew


She told me stories about the Indian nations

And how the White man stole their lives away

And although she kinda liked me

She could never trust me

And when the sun comes up

We'd go our different ways


CHORUS
Now everybody has got the choice
Between hotdogs and hamburgers

Every one of us has got to choose

Between right and wrong

And givin' up or holdin' on


So I dropped her off at some railroad crossing in Texas

An old Indian man was waiting there

He smiled and thanked me

But he saw right through me

I could tell he didn't like me

For my kind he did not care


Because to him I was the White man

The one who sold him something that he already owned

And it was like he'd been riding in the car right there with us

And I felt ashamed of my actions

And the way the West was really won


So I drove down the highway

Till I came to Los Angeles

The town of the angels

The best this country can do

I got down on my knees

And I asked for forgiveness

I said, Lord, forgive us for we know not what we do

CHORUS

Justice and Independence '85
: John Mellencamp

He was born on the fourth day of July
So his parents called him Independence Day

He married a girl named Justice who gave birth to a son called Nation

Then she walked away


Independence he would daydream and he'd pretend
That some day him and Justice and Nation would get together again

But Justice held up in a shotgun shack

And she wouldn't let nobody in

So a Nation cried


CHORUS
Oh, oh When a Nation cries
His tears fall down like missiles from the skies

Justice look into Independence's eyes

Can you make everything alright

Can you keep your Nation warm tonight


Well Nation grew up and got himself a big reputation
Couldn't keep the boy at home no, no

He just kept running 'round and 'round and 'round and 'round

Independence and Justice well they felt so ashamed

When the Nation fell down they argued who was to blame
Nation if you'll come home we'll have this family again

Oh, Nation, don't cry


CHORUS

Roll a rock across the country
Everybody come along

When you're feelin' down, yeah, yeah

Just sing this song, yeah yeah

The Way It Is: Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Standing in line marking time--
Waiting for the welfare dime

'Cause they can't buy a job

The man in the silk suit hurries by

As he catches the poor old ladies' eyes

Just for fun he says "Get a job"


That's just the way it is

Some things will never change

That's just the way it is

But don't you believe them


They say hey little boy you can't go

Where the others go

'Cause you don't look like they do
Said hey old man how can you stand

To think that way

Did you really think about it

Before you made the rules


He said, Son

That's just the way it is

Some things will never change

That's just the way it is

But don't you believe them


Well they passed a law in '64

To give those who ain't got a little more

But it only goes so far

Because the law don't change another's mind

When all it sees at the hiring time

Is the line on the color bar


That's just the way it is

Some things will never change

That's just the way it is

But don't you believe them

Another Day in Paradise: Phil Collins

She calls out to the man on the street
"Sir, can you help me?

It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep

Is there somewhere you can tell me?"


He walks on, doesn't look back
He pretends he can't hear her

He starts to whistle as he crosses the street

She's embarrassed to be there


Oh, think twice, it's just another day for

For you and me in paradise

Oh, think twice, it's just another day

For you, you and me in paradise


Just think about it
She calls out to the man on the street

He can see she's been cryin'

She's got blisters on the soles of her feet

She can't walk but she's tryin'


Oh, just think twice, it's just another day

For you and me in paradise

Oh, yes think twice, it's just another day

For you, you and me in paradise
Just think about it, just think about it


Oh Lord, is there nothing more anybody can do?

Oh Lord, there must be something you can say

You can tell by the lines on her face

You can see that she's been there


Probably been moved on from every place

'Cause she didn't fit in there
Oh, yes think twice, it's just another day

For you and me in paradise


Oh, yes think twice, it's just another day

For you, you and me in paradise

Just think about it, just think about it
It's just another day

For you and me in paradise


It's just another day

For you and me in paradise

It's just another day

For you and me in paradise


It's just another day

For you and me in paradise

It's just another day

For you and me


It's another day

For you and me
It's another day

For you and me in paradise

In paradise
Southern Man: Neil Young

Southern man
better keep your head
Don't forget
what your good book said
Southern change
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
Southern man

I saw cotton
and I saw black
Tall white mansions
and little shacks.
Southern man
when will you
pay them back?
I heard screamin'
and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?

Southern man
better keep your head
Don't forget
what your good book said
Southern change
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
Southern man

Lily Belle,
your hair is golden brown
I've seen your black man
comin' round
Swear by God
I'm gonna cut him down!
I heard screamin'
and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?

Golden Country: REO Speedwagon

Golden country your face is so red
With all of your money your poor can be fed
You strut around and you flirt with disaster
Never really carin' just what comes after

Well your blacks are dyin' but your back is still turned
And your freaks are cryin' but your back is still turned
You better stop your hidin or your country will burn

The time has come for you my friend
To all this ugliness we must put an end
Before we leave we must make a stand

Mortgage people you crawl to your homes
Your security lies in your bed of white foam
You act concerned but then why turn away
When a lady was raped on your doorstep today

Well your blacks are cryin' but your back is still turned
And your freaks are dyin' but your back is still turned
You better stop your hidin or your country will burn

The time has come for you my friend
To all this ugliness we must put an end
Before we leave we must make a stand, oh yeah......

(solo)

Golden country your face is so red
With all of your money your poor can be fed
You strut around and you flirt with disaster
Never really carin' just what comes after

Well your blacks are dyin' but your back is still turned
And your freaks are cryin' but your back is still turned
You better stop your hidin or your country will burn

The time has come for you my friend
To all this ugliness we must put an end
Before we leave we must make a stand

(repeat)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good synopsis of Sowell's "Cosmic Justice" book...which takes a look at the underlying assumptions of "Social Justice"....

http://www.tsowell.com/spquestc.html

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