August 03, 2004

1969 in the sunshine

Quick takes:
Monster is REM's U2 album. The only problem is that it's 90s U2. It's actually better than 90s U2, though, so go figure.

What's the difference between a political song and a personal song? My tendency has always been to apply a strict reading to determine whether a song is political or no. There's an argument to be made that "Born in the USA" is a personal song, for example:
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 coverin' up
But I posit a song with these lyrics:
"Well the welfare checks are all stopped up

and Medicare's just a big tin cup
Social security don't work no more
But the tax cut kings say, 'More more more'"
(This was just the first pair of couplets that came to mind; they do not represent my opinions or my poetic style.) Is this a personal or political song? Well, it does pass a strict reading -- no characters are mentioned to personalize it, and the narrator doesn't mention himself. It still seems to me that it's a personal lyric, though: there is a narrative voice, even if the character doesn't personalize his problems; there are connotative associations that lead the listener to believe that the narrator identifies with the poor and the old. Perhaps there are no real political songs, or maybe (since politics is the art of making as many people as possible happy) there can be no politics without the personal. If you have any thoughts on what a pure political song should be, please leave a comment.

Sudan continues to frustrate and depress me. Imbeciles of the world, waffle!


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