Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day edition: 100 Greats in 100 Days # 014: Springsteen/van Zandt compilation: The E Street Patriots

"What a fantastic monument to the better instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers." --Hunter S. Thompson

In my America, This Land is Your Land is the national anthem. Jimmy Carter is emeritus Secretary of State. Al Gore is President (not because I want him, but because he actually won in 2000). Bruce Springsteen is roving Ambassador. And these are the songs that we play at the 4th of July Parade:

  • Born in the USA: a searing indictment of the rich men who send poor boys out to die; Ronald Reagan’s campaign bootlegged it for the ’82 race, which made it obvious that Republicans can’t listen past any song’s first chorus);
  • Sun City: Little Steven’s brilliant attack on South Africa’s minority government and Reagan’s “constructive engagement (read: enablement); features, among many others, Bruce and Miles Davis;
  • I am a Patriot: Better known in Jackson Browne’s version than Steven’s own, but reclaims the title of “patriot” for those who deserve it, rather than the yammering cowards who screech about it
  • Youngstown: a Bruce folk-song: the people who worked the foundries that “helped the Union win the war” and received no reward
  • Bring ‘Em Home: brilliant live version of Seegar’s Vietnam-era anthem, from the Conan O Brien show; find it on youtube.com
  • 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy): Bruce’s happiest patriotic song: “Sandy the aurora's rising behind us, the pier lights our carnival life forever/Oh love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever”
  • American Skin (41 Shots): Bruce understands and acts on the realization that “my country right or wrong” should mean “my country: fight for it when it’s right; fix it when it’s wrong.” Commemorates the shooting death by NYC cops of Amadou Diallo during the Giuliani era. He was unarmed, shot 41 times, but a changed-venue jury unanimously acquitted on all charges. Any question about actual culpability were resolved by a $3million out-of-court settlement to his survivors. A terribly sad song.
  • My Hometown: the song John Mellencamp (who I had the misfortune to play with in Bloomington) has been trying to write his whole life.
  • Los Desaparecidos: Little Steven’s Woody Guthrie-esque tribute to those disappeared during the right-wing activities of South America’s Operation Condor, sponsored by the USA.

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