I actually mean that, too. We’ve seen a lot of traditions bent or broken over the last eight years, like the rule of law. No reason that the peaceful transfer of power couldn’t join the Bill of Rights on the scrapheap… Many years ago, Christopher Buckley wrote a novel, “The White House Mess,” which imagined that when inauguration day 1988 arrived, the Reagans refused to leave the White House. I didn’t think that the Bushies would really do that, but given their apocalyptic mindset, it wasn’t impossible to imagine them somehow fusing the controls before parachuting out of the airplane.
The book is over and Wholesome Reading is back. Class, next time I will arrange a substitute teacher to keep things in order while I’m gone. That said, I hope I won’t be taking that kind of time out for a long while… I paused from my welcome weekend lassitude to take in the Obamacon on the Mall, and kind of enjoyed it, especially when one of my heroes, Pete Seeger, came out to lead “This Land Is Your Land,” one of nature’s perfect compositions. They did seemingly all of Woody Guthrie’s verses, including the suppressed–
There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
That side was made for you and me
Apparently it was Pete’s request to bring that verse back for performance before the president-elect. That’s what the song was about in the first place, but over time the hard edges were softened until it became something like, “America the Beautiful,” with the emphasis on the refrain’s redwood forest and gulf stream waters (do not drink!) instead of the verses, which are about an America whose mountains and prairies were not just God-blessed, but God-blessed for the ordinary American man and woman, a sentiment Guthrie found to be missing in Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” and thus was he inspired to write.
That was rewarding. Less so was an incoherent Garth Brooks medley I’m still wondering about. It was a trio of unrelated song-fragments: “American Pie,” “Shout”, and… some other song that I didn’t recognize but had some sappy “Up With People”-style lyrics about how on the day we all hold hands regardless of being dog-people or cat-people we will truly be free. Never mind that, though. What I can’t quite figure out is who thought that “American Pie” was somehow appropriate to a celebration. It’s about “the day the music died,” the day in 1959 that Buddy Holly’s plane went down, and paraphrases Holly’s hit “That’ll Be the Day,” by concluding, “This’ll be the day that I die.” An appropriate sentiment for the current economy, perhaps–this might just be the day, might as well be, maybe. After all, the levy was dry, and the manufacturer’s warranty on the Chevy you drove there is about to expire due to the fact that the manufacturer is about to expire also.
It’s a good song, a catchy song, and its many references inspire a lot of fun speculation, but geez, we’re singing dirges in the dark and getting drunk toasting the plumes of smoke coming off of a 22-year-old rocker’s crashed airplane. How’s that’s the vibe we’re looking for going into Tuesday’s inauguration?