Monday, August 17, 2015

Music Monday ~ Those "Few Words in Defence of......"

Some seven years ago, in 2008, my husband's son-in-law pointed me in the direction of this song by Randy Newman : "A Few Words In Defense of Our Country". It's more of a "closing statement" than a song, I guess, but coming across it again I decided to listen once more - to see whether anything has changed. What do you think?

The lyrics:
I'd like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren't bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they're the worst that we've had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools
And burning down the City
And one of 'em, one of 'em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That's like vice president or something

That's not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here's one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don't even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don't want their love
And respect at this point
Is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction

King Leopold of Belgium. That's right.
Everyone thinks he's so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?


A President once said,
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Now it seems like we're supposed to be afraid
It's patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That's what terror means, doesn't it?
That's what it used to mean

[To the first eight bars of
"Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean"]

You know it pisses me off a little
That this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas
And a brother on the Court now too
But I defy you, anywhere in the world
To find me two Italians as tightass
As the two Italians we got

And as for the brother
Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We're adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.


mike said...

"Few Words..." is an update from his 1972 song:

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

Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is 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 got surfin', too

Boom goes London and boom Paree
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 will be we'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono and 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

Randy Newman, "Political Science"

Twilight said...

mike ~ Didn't know that. Interesting! Weird too. Was he being serious or satirical in 1972?

All this worrying about what others think about one's country seems to be peculiar to the USA. Or maybe peculiar just to Randy Newman? I don't think Brits ever worry too much about what other think about 'em. As JD mentioned last week, Brits retain a certain bloody-mindedness as a national characteristic, which helps in this respect. French don't seem to care, nor do Italians, (not sure about Germans, but they have blotted their copybook countless times and have reason to feel vulnerable). Russia doesn't care. Middle-eastern countries don't care, Far-easterns don't care.
USA cares - or at least Randy Newman does.

Can I get an Awwww!?

Seriously, though, since 2008, and after 8 years of G.W.Bush's reign, one thing President Obama has in his favour is that he has raised the USA's personality profile a wee tiny bit (except, of course, in countries over which his horrible death-bringing drones still fly).

mike (again) said...

I assume he wrote a facetious song and Wiki calls it satire. The European nations reminded me of the way siblings or relatives might interact, when I was there a number of years ago. There aren't clear distinctions between countries other than perhaps language and an actual border. I was just as likely to find French citizens in Italy and Greece, and just as likely to find Italians in Germany, as Germans in Italy. We in America seem to be like the only child with no siblings...we certainly don't integrate well with Mexico and slightly better with Canada. In the USA, anyone with an accent is suspicious.

From Wiki
"'Political Science' is a song written and performed by singer-songwriter Randy Newman on his 1972 album, Sail Away. In going along with the theme of the rest of the album, the song is a satire of a particular part of American culture and history, namely its foreign policies at the time. The unnamed narrator describes the state of the world, and suggests, 'Let’s drop the big one and see what happens.'

Newman performed the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972. 'Political Science' is prominently performed by Newman on the final credits of the 1999 film Blast from the Past. Newman also rerecorded the song for his 2003 release The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1. In October 2006, Newman performed the song on The Colbert Report after being interviewed by Stephen Colbert.

In recent years, artists including Don Henley, Pedro the Lion, Glen Phillips and Wilco have performed live covers of this song. The song is also performed in an episode of Ally McBeal by Jennifer Holliday."

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I was never in mainland Europe once the EU got properly going (trips after were to a particular island, where folk of all EU nations would congregate at different time of year, so not a good example). So I didn't find the same overlap in mainland countries you noticed. I see what you mean about siblings though. I reckon Britain is your closest cousin, or maybe even your elder brother. :-)

Thanks for the detail on the 1972 song, "Political Science". Newman was a young guy then (29-ish) and there was no internet, different life altogether. The song was meant to be in the same "wheelhouse" as Monty Python stuff I guess. The later song, that in the post was more thoughtful.