Friday, August 05, 2005

Ramblings About Country Music

I grew up on bad AM radio. And I loved it. My favorite songs were the stupid ones. "The Night Chicago Died" and the not so stupid ones with similarly good melodies and like "Brandy."

I could be had by a great melodic hook or a spectacular lyrical one. I heard on that AM station everything from Gallery's "It's So Nice To Be With You" and Joe Tex and the Sex-o-lettes "I Gotcha" to carol King's anything and everything Tapestry.

I could be wrong but that's not what I get on the pop music stations these days. I find neither decent melody nor important lyric. I'm sure it's there. From time to time. Just too few and too much time between them.

What I used to find on AM radio -- the mix of humor and pathos -- the over-the-top melodrama and the right on emotional experience is now found on the country music station.

Now I have no interest in promoting country music. In fact any good word I say only makes me look more foolish to my longtime friends as I, too, vomited out the cliches about country music. It's all about losers singing in some kind of twang about, as Howard Dean -- the very voice of my old party would say -- guns, God and gays.

But it's not. It's funny. It's clever. It's powerful. And, to my friend Seth, my hero of melody -- it's melodic.

Now I'm a words man. And the words are brilliant. And I'm a comedian. That's how I made my living for the past two decades. And it's funny as hell. I'm not a musician. But I have been a consumer of music from the time I made mom buy me "Honey" by Bobby Goldboro at the age of eight. And it IS melodic.

AM radio -- at its best -- offered blocks of songs that ran the gamut from the Tin Pan Alleyesque to what was new and threatening and in the end utterly disappointing. In one sitting one would be rewarded with Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell and Joe Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes. Another hour would bring Michael Jackson, The Bee Gees and Anita Baker. And at any time one might by handed a little gem of self-consciously silly humor along the lines of a Ray Stevens or a novelty song like CB McCall's "Convey."

So it is today with country music. It now is what runs the gamut the way AM radio used to. It's fun. It's funny. It's filled with pathos and heartbreak. It's rock and it's pop and every now and then once can find dance. It's funny -- with a sense of humor unseen in any of the other formats these days and especially needed for anyone who numbs their brain with the hate and self-inflicted misery that is rap.

It's Lonestar's hilarious "Mr. Mom" and Alan Jackson's snide "Talking Song". It's Terri Clark's pseudo-feminist nugget "Girls Lie, Too" and the real man's tears of John Michael Montgomey's "Letters From Home." It's Dirk Bentley's paean to the reckless fun of youth and Blaine Larson's "How Do You Get So lonely" about youth lived in the darkest shadow.

And then there's Toby Keith. As I naively told my son the first time I ever heard him sing: "he's going to be a big star!" Keith is everything Bruce Springsteen was before Springsteen became a caricature of himself. He is Springsteen with an appreciation of life instead of a bitterness. He is Springsteen except that, to him, being "born in the USA" is a blessing and not a curse.

In one "kick ass" show Keith is the self-confident American ("Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue") unwavering in his conviction that freedom is right (a far cry from the leftists who whine mealy-mouthed, always ignoring our goodness and picking at our misdeeds to justify the evils that are visited upon us) and painfully aware of the cost to our soldiers of defending that freedom ("American Soldier'). Unlike the Beverly Hills -- or Rumson, New Jersey -- pop song writer, Keith's songs about America are real, self-confident and exactly what America really is.

Springsteen is not the real troubadour of America (anyone who knows me knows how painful a sentence that was to write.) He's a self-pitying grump -- exactly the opposite of an American -- he is a malcontent who looks at a glass that is 99.99 percent full and spends the next thirty years whining about the missing .o1 percent. The miserable "Devils and Dust" -- at a time when American heroes are so plentiful and the smell of freedom is wafting through the last dark corners of the world -- is just another example of a never-grown-up child locked (in his mind) in his bedroom in his daddy's house in Freehold, New Jersey, unable to write about anything real because everyone is Douglas, his disappointed and supposedly beleaguered daddy, Doug.

Springsteen is brilliant -- and I do not for a moment take that back. From my own "teenage angst" years, when I found a kindred spirit in Bruce's morose take on the American dream, to my more mature years when the craft of the artist was just so stunning I could still buy into his 30 and then forty and then fifty year old teenage angst, I belonged to the church of Bruce. But anyone who wants to know the real chronicler of the real America -- from all sides and in real proportions -- one needs to reject the works of the self-pitying multimillionaire that define Modern Liberalism (Springsteen, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Michael Moore and John Edwards to name just a few) and spend just a couple of minutes with the real America that is Toby Keith.

41 comments:

Jeanne said...

I'm going to go a little bit country, because there is no rock and roll!
I guess I'll start with Toby Keith.
Thanks, Evan.

Alva Goldbook said...

Evan,
I grew up on good ole bluegrass classics from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. Not that I’m that old (I just pushed past 27), but my parents are die hard country music fans. Not only that, my father played mandolin in several bluegrass bands. My first memory was being on stage with him playing my Mickey Mouse banjo.

Since that time, I learned to play music as well, starting in the 3rd grade, and I’ve been in bands of all shades and styles since I was in the 7th grade. In that time I’ve written over 400 songs and recorded over 12 albums of my own material. I recently bought a some professional recording equipment that allows me to professional record my own music, and I’ve undertaken the project of recording every song I’ve ever written since I was 13 years of age.

Other than coming from bluegrass and old country roots (when country was actually GOOD), I’m also a huge fan of 60’s psychedelia, classic rock, and good ole punk rock. But my appreciation for music doesn’t stop there. As I was a classically trained musician, I also have enormous appreciations for classical, most particularly Tchaikovsky. So, when it comes to music, I can guarantee you that I know what I’m talking about.

Any country music fan should be able to appreciate the absolutely GREAT songs written by Hank Williams…SENIOR, Johnny Cash, the Statler Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard. And what country music fan can forget the sting of Pasty Cline’s absolutely amazing voice?

And then you have what passes today as “Country” music. Or is it just talent-less hacks singing in a fake southern accent? Country music was ruined the moment the big record companies figured out how to make a buck off of it. Country music isn’t the only victim of this.

The brilliance of Motown became Brittany Spears and Jessica Simpson. The power of great punks bands like Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys became the garbage of Green Day and Silverchair. Metallica and Black Sabbath became Limp Bizcut and Korn. Jazz specialists Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong became “Smooth Jazz”. The Temptations became The Backstreet Boys. Jimi Hendrix became Guns N’ Roses. The list goes on and on and on.

County music has seen it quite possibly worse than any other form of music. The upright bass was replaced by lousy drummers. The banjo and fiddle was replace with keyboards. And words of the struggle of the common man became the crap of Toby Keith.

Then there’s Bruce Springsteen, who has always been absolutely brilliant. As Reagan praised Springsteen for being “a real American” for “Born in the USA”, Springsteen was recounting the nightmare of Vietnam.

“Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man
Born in the USA”

But Born in the USA is nothing in comparison to Bruce’s best album, and one he did previous to Born in the USA, the great Nebraska album. “Nebraska”, a song based on a true story about a couple who went on a shooting spree, depicts a vision of absolute horror.

“The jury brought in a guilty verdict and the judge he sentenced me to death
Midnight in a prison storeroom with leather straps across my chest
Sheriff when the man pulls that switch sir and snaps my poor head back
You make sure my pretty baby is sittin' right there on my lap

They declared me unfit to live said
Into that great void my soul'd be hurled
They wanted to know why I did what I did
Well sir I guess there's just a meanness in this world”

But the album concludes in an almost eerie depiction of the hope of people:

“Seen a man standin' over a dead dog lyin' by the highway in a ditch
He's lookin' down kinda puzzled pokin' that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open he's standin' out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog'd get up and run
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe”

Bruce has always been a voice to the voiceless, a scream for the silenced, and the hero of the working man. Bruce sang about Reagan’s America in “The River”

“I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain't been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember
Mary acts like she don't care

But I remember us riding in my brother's car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse”

This is the America that Keith will not acknowledge, and my guess is that he could care less. Or perhaps Keith just isn’t bright enough to rhyme “bin Laden” with anything other than “forgotten.” That wouldn’t surprise me either as John Stuart Mill observed so many years ago:

“Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

Alva Goldbook said...

Jeanne,
There's plenty of great rock n' roll out there. I would suggest NOFX's latest "War on Errorism" (they're fond of making verbal puns). Their tallent and skill far outweights anything Keith could hope to string together. They will even sing about politics. One particular song about the President is aptly called "The Idiot Son Of An Asshole".

Evan Sayet said...

Alva,

You need not quote me Bruce Springsteen. There was no bigger fan of his than me. An early email address and screen name of mine was COB201 -- that's "(the) Church of Bruce and then the (wrong) New Jersey area code."

I have tried writing a book on the importance of Springsteen's lyrics and my friends will tell you there was Bruce and then there was everyone else.

But I just got tired of has sad sack lies. When he signed up with John Kerry -- I went back and listened with a new ear. And he's just another leftist who can never find anything good to say about America and wants everything for free.

I challenge you to go back through his entire catalogue of songs and find me a single male figure (I know of only ONE female figure, from an obscure song called "The Wish") whose job isn't the source of agony.

"My daddy worked his whole life for nothing but the pain.."

"Now I work down at the carwash, where all it ever does is rain..."

"End of the day factory whistle cries/Man walks through these gates with death in his eyes/and you just better believe boy/somebodies gonna get it tonight...

Well you know what Alva -- that's not America. 99 percent of the people find some happiness in their jobs. Some love their jobs. Some love the friendship of their coworkers and others feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I'm just sick to death of leftists -- including Mr. Springsteen -- who lie about America constantly, who can find nothing good to sing about except partying.

Sorry, to be "Born in the USA" -- which President Reagan misunderstood to be a patriotic song because Bruce had chosen to use the flag as a symbol of his disdain for America and because you couldn't understand a word he was screaming except the chorus -- doesn't mean to be "kicked when you hit the ground."

I don't mind songs about the poor, poor murderers who we are supposed to feel sorry for. But, hey, how about a song from the girl who WASN'T raped because that murderer was put to death. How about a song now and again like

(to the tune of Born in the US)

"Born down in a sweet little town/
Never got kicked cause my friends were around/ended up so rich my daughter rides horses/and I don't have work a day in my life yeah...

(Bruce was) Born in the USA!!!

Again, Bruce is a genius. His use of the automobile as a metaphor for one's future and thus every hint about the car is a hint about the protagonist's life is brilliant. But I'm just sick and tired of this portrait of America that is an out and out lie and the result of a personality flaw called "ingratitude."

Alva Goldbook said...

Evan,
With the exception of Born in the USA, Bruce has rarely ever talked about America as a whole. One of his biggest inspirations was John Steinbeck (who authored The Grapes of Wrath) who depict the classical tragic hero. This is why Springsteen rarely sings in the first person, but rather the third person (when he does in the first it’s through a character speaking). Springsteen speaks entirely from the point of the individual and the struggles and choices they go through.

Also, as an artist, I can tell you personally, that happy subject material rarely makes for good songs, and even more rarely leads to inspiration. I’ve rarely heard a country song that didn’t have some dire misery in it. And this is generally true for all lyrical music.

Speaking of your challenge, I don’t know if you’d like to count it or not, but I think Rosalita might count in the job satisfaction category (“the record company just gave me a big advance”). People obviously do find some kind of happiness on their jobs, but it usually isn’t the working part of it. Having a sense of pride and accomplishment is great too, but really that comes from the work you’ve done, not the work you do. Very few people, much less Americans, look forward to going to work each day, which is obvious. It is basic human nature to desire to be free, and living 8 hours of your day at the command of someone else is well…by definition, slavery. This is the primary reason why jobs where you get to be your own boss (like a stand up comedian, or musician) are so desirable.

I don’t think Bruce was trying to say we should feel sorry for murderers, so much as he was simply writing a song from the point of view of this particular character. It makes for a great song, that is quite disturbing. You see this all the time in film (Payback for example) where the audience views the story through the eyes of the villain. Is this suggesting that we should feel sorry for con-men, murderers, and thieves? I don’t think so, I think it just makes for a good movie.

Now a song that rejoices in someone being put to death…now that would be well…VERY DISTURBING.

Evan Sayet said...

Nice job coming close to something where Bruce sings about satisfaction in doing a job. But even that is about being paid to PLAY.

And even then what he offers her is to "skip some school" and "be real cool" and "stay out all night".

You are absolutely wrong, though, that people don't find happiness, satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment in working. It's the Protestant work ethic and in one of Bruce's most personal songs "The Wish" he DOES talk about his mother coming home from a day of work at a pretty mediocre job.

As for "happy songs" not selling I don't but that at all. Happy songs sold until the sixties when it became the norm to hate America. And it sells on country music stations which is what was underneath my original post.

And, frankly, I didn't mind Springsteen's warped, self-pitying and unrealistic take on life because I recognized that as an artist that is part of what one writes about. It was when he decided to be a politician and try to get elected someone with his own warped and hateful sense of America that I balked.

The way I think about it is that I get that NYPD Blue is a great cop show. It's gritty and has a certain truth to it. But I sure as hell don't want to elected someone who thinks that every cop in every precinct gets shot at in every epidode and by the end of an eight year run every cop has been shot at least eight times.

The reality is that most cops never even pull their gun once in their entire careers. I don't want policy based on someone who has no sense of reality because he's going to make policy in which he thinks NYPD Blue is REALITY.

For Springsteen to sing about the downtrodden is one thing -- and I wish he'd have a more honest and realistic approach anyway -- but for John Kerry to think that's the real world and for Bruce to use his untrue portrayal to try and sell this candidate -- is just too much.

America is good and great. More people find opportunity, success and riches here than any other place in human history. And for the Democrat to NEVER say anything good and for Bruce Springsteen to NEVER say anything good makes them liars and their lies actually bring about more of the suffering they pretend to be caring about in the first place.

jb_ken said...

I gather we are around the same age Evan. I remember growing up on AM radio also during the early 70s before FM came into it's own. I too was a Bruce fanatic. Saw every concert, bought every LP and read every book ever written about the band. That stopped soon after the Born in the USA album. The concerts prior to that were real; you could actually believe that the guy was just a struggling artist trying to make a buck. With the Born in the USA tour it just looked like some rich guy, wearing old jeans and a t-shirt acting like he was some poor struggling artist trying to make a buck by selling his t-shirts out in the corridors for 15 bucks a pop.

Bruce is a phoney now, complaining about how the rich republicans dont do enough for the poor while hanging with his servants in his 57 million dollar abode.

I'm also leaning county. Maybe it's an age issue; maybe we honor honesty more than spite nowadays. Seems to me that even though these country artists are rich beyond our wildest dreams; they still find the time to be with us little people. I guess you can sum it up in two little words "They're real".

Senator_MJM said...

Interesting take on the music scene, Evan. I've liked alot of Bruce's older stuff ('Blinded by the Light', era) but never cared for his 'Born...' album, nor any of his 'stadium' tours. You are right-on about his stagnation into the phoney Hollywood syndrome. It just goes to show that money really can't bring you happiness.
Alva,
"Also, as an artist, I can tell you personally, that happy subject material rarely makes for good songs, and even more rarely leads to inspiration. "
Try Billy Joel's 'Innocent Man' album. Or do 'happy songs' actually make liberals more miserable?
BTW, I love my job and actually look forward to going in to work. Now to say I wouldn't rather do something else every once in a while would be a lie, but then that's what vacations are for, of which I also look forward. If you quit hanging around those who love misery (mostly the left), you might find that the majority of American's are pretty darn happy with most aspects of their lives.

Alva Goldbook said...

Evan, are you suggesting that being a professional musician isn’t a job? Would this translate to all performing artists, such as yourself? Would it be rude then to suggest that you should “get a real job”?

You’re referencing an earlier segment of the song, which is primarily about teenage rebellion.

I’m absolutely positive that the majority of Americans dislike their jobs. How many times have you seen the “I’d rather be fishing” bumper sticker? If given a choice, I would bet that 80% of Americans would choose to their own leisure over work. Perhaps the view is different for a stand up comedian, but go into any retail outlet in American and take a poll.

What you’re forgetting is that prior to the ‘60’s, record companies had a virtual stranglehold on all musical artists. Depression, anger, and loneliness are all negative emotions, but they tend to make a musician more creative. You can track this through the history of country music. Hell, you can even track this back to Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” in 1893.

To dislike Springsteen for campaigning with Kerry seems, well ludicrous. Suppose Black Sabbath had campaigned for Bush. Would that change the fact that they are the greatest metal band of all time? Would I like them any less? Hardly. It would be akin to throwing away your Beatles records after you discovered that they were using drugs.

When has Democrats never said anything good about America? Al Franken once observed that Democrats see America as grown-ups, while Republicans see America as children. To the average Con, America is like mommy. Mommy is never wrong. Mommy is perfect. The Democrats sees America for it’s greatness and it faults. A congressman during the late 19th century (I wish I could remember his name) said, “When America is right she is right, when she is wrong she should be SET RIGHT”. Given that “it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish” our government, it would seem to me that pointing out where America has faltered is the very essence of patriotism. Or do you think that slavery ended by people defending it?

Alva Goldbook said...

Senator,
I’m afraid I would have a hard time listening to anything from Billy Joel. I have no problem with happy songs at all. Hell, years ago in my old band I did a concept album about the simple pleasures of life. If you really wanna hear some GOOD music that is happy, check out Jonathon Richman. The Modern Lovers or his solo work is all very very happy.

Senator_MJM said...

Alva,
Other than your 'Fishing' bumper sticker, what else do base your belief that the majority of Americans dislike their jobs? I've found (although I've got no scientific research available) the majority of Americans don't like putting ANY bumper stickers on their vehicles. Again, perhaps you may want to re-consider the crowd in which you hang. I've heard stand-up comics are a riot to be around.....

Evan Sayet said...

There is no evidence of it, Sen. But the Liberal doesn't need fact or evidence because they start with their conclusions and then whatever supports their conclusions is, de facto, true.

This is why they have no problem -- even at the highest level -- in giving standing ovations to movies they know are filled with cherry-picked "facts", manipulated "evidence" and outright lies. It's because these lies support a "bigger" truth (leftism).

It's why they could care less that in this democracy where an informed electorate is vital to the process Dan Rather was caught using forged documents and trying to pawn off a mentally disturbed Democratic Party partisan with multiple direct contacts to the highest levels of the Kerry campaign. It served "the bigger truth" that George Bush is a bad man and that's good enough for them.

It's why they couldn't care less that a top Democrat -- the foreign policy advisor to Clinton and the kerry campaign -- was caught (so red-handed he had to plead guilty!) cramming top secret documents about the most important event in American history down his pants and his socks.

Meanwhile they want Rush Limbaugh hung and Karl Rove "frog marched out of the White House" (whatever that means) based on nothing other than their hatred of people who disagree with them.

Truth means NOTHING to these people. NOTHING. Whatever they argue it is an attempt to "prove" their preordained and always anti-American notions.

So because America is capitalist and they hate America, "the worker" must be exploited, cheated and utterly miserable and it requires no evidence whatsoever for that simply to be "true."

Evan Sayet said...

A --

Sorry, you're just wrong about "Born in the USA". On "The River" the entire composition of the cover is one of purely American icons. Nebraska was selected as the name of the album because there couldn't possibly be a more "perfectly American" state.

The jobs he chooses are the quintessentially American ones like "State Trooper" etc.

Again, A. here's the problem (and again, A., you're talking to the world's biggest Bruce Springsteen fan -- or at least now someone who does not, could not, would not and never would question his immense talents). The problem here is not that he "bad-mouths" America and Americans anymore than any Republican has a complaint about Democrats for that reason. It's that it is exagerated and unrelenting. Sorry, A. if you're going to write a song about what it means to be "Born in the USA' and hang the American flag behind you and then spend the next thirty years with the (what I now recognize as bogus title of America's voice) then every once in a while -- every now and then -- you have to say something good about America because otherwise you are just a liar. that is NOT America. It might be a small part of it. It mustn't be ignored. But to say that being "Born in the USA" means being kicked when you're down" is an outright lie.

Evan Sayet said...

Just caught your quote from Al Franken -- a man who was caught stealing Harvard University letter head and forging signatures to try to catch other people in missteps he could then spin a his books which are so filled with lies he has to publish them as "satire" to avoid the libel suits.

And what's funny (which is a first for the very bitter liar -- yes, I have spent time with him) -- is that that line is both stolen and spun around to say what the cliche never did.

The cliche is that the Democrats are the "mommy" party and the Republicans are the daddy party.

What's so funny about leftists is that they pat themselves on the back for being so brilliant because they don't see things in "black and white" but unless someone vomits out no stop hatred for America that means they must think America's perfect.

Alva, nobody thinks America's perfect. But we sure do think this is a great country and wish that every once in a while you guys would say so. Hating America doesn't make you mature. Lying about America doesn't make you "intelligent."

This notion that unless I accept that Bush is HITLER and our troops are Nazis then I'm a child is laughable. Again, and for the hundredth time, it's not that you guys bitch and moan and complain...it's that it's a lie. It's like looking for a pimple, finding one and then thinking you're so smart by saying "her face is totally covered with acne."

And if I disagree "oooh, you're such a child, you think she's perfect." Nope, it's just that he face isn't covered with acne -- no matter how many forged documents the Old Media manufactures or how many times Dick Durbin screams NAZIS or how loudly Ward Churchill insists that the victims of 9/11 are all "little Eichmanns."

jb_ken said...

Yes Evan and if you ever listen to any of the left wing liars on radio, you'll hear "Durbin never called the troops Nazis". Well no, he didn't say Private So and So is wearing a brown shirt and a swastika; but we all new what the fat hog from Illinois meant. He just found anoter way to use the war for what he thought would be politcal gain and to hurt the president. Little did he know that he had spent too much time in the moveon.org hate America boutique to realize that he didn't realize the firestorm he would face for defaming our great soldiers. Let's just hope the state of Illinois figures this out in time to oust this socialist out of the senate.

Alva Goldbook said...

Senator MJM,
Like I said, go to any retail outlet in America, and take a poll. Go to any construction site in American, and take a poll. Go to any business office and walk around to the cubicles and take a poll. Then ask yourself, if you had the opportunity to be your own boss, doing what you WANT to do instead of using your labor to enrich someone you don't particularly like, what would you do?

It is basic human nature to want to be free. That INCLUDES the desire to control your labor.

Alva Goldbook said...

This is an interesting rant Evan, but I don’t see what it has to do with the discussion at hand. But since you brought it up…

Again you suggest Moore’s film is filled with lies. You know what I’m going to say. Prove it or retract it. Otherwise you are showing you have no compunction whatsoever for the truth that you say you so gallantly defend.

An informed electorate is vital to a democracy. Strangely, I seem to remember Dan Rather being reprimanded not for getting a story wrong, but for not being able to prove that one of the documents he used for his story WASN’T a forgery. But that was just one little story that went awry. What about the thousands of news stories from every media outlet in the country that PARROTED the lies of the Bush administration? Why is it that Rather sees hell when he CHALLENGED the government, but when Bush administration lied about WMDs, the media didn’t question it for a moment. The media simply REPEATED the lies, over and over again, without checking a single shred of it to make sure that it was true. When it is PROVEN that they are wrong, that Judith Miller LIED, she isn’t fired from the “liberal” NY Times. Why? The lesson learned is that it is okay for the media to LIE to the American public, it is just fine to never check your facts, just so long as you don’t make Dubya look bad.

Even HITLER was in favor of “free speech” and “freedom of the press”, just as long as you didn’t say a word against him. And you guys wonder why we make the comparison.

EPorvaznik said...

Well, to bring this back to country music (kinda), check out some guys (and gals) better than Toby Keith (whom I like for his sense of humor and funny videos, but whom I think made a caricature of himself with the "boot in the ass" song), with Shooter Jennings (does his daddy real proud), Two Cow Garage, Lucinda Williams and, in spite of the fact they spend an odd song or three bashing Republicans for no good reason, Drive-By Truckers. The south will rise again and it'll be better than when Skynyrd, the Allmans and Molly Hatchet roamed the earth. Yeah, yeah, I know the Allmans and Skynyrd still roam the earth, but not the ways they used to roam.

Doffie said...

Evam.
I'm with Jeanne. You've inspired me--to rush right out and buy a Toby Keith CD. Even when country music is sad, it makes me happy.
It's a far cry from my staid Bostonian roots.

Evan Sayet said...

You see, Alva, you set up a false equation and it's typically chilish, um, I mean Liberal. You see you set up on one side a fantasy world where somehow nobody has to work for a boss and this magical fairy land where somehow everyone is their own boss or working for and with people. One is what you think would happen if only America weren't so evil and horrible and the other is "slavery".

Well working for and with people is NOT slavery and the other is just a childish fantasy that has nothing to do with the real world.

In the real world where real solutions need to be found to real problems -- and real appreciation for real goods must be offered -- your fantasies and childish dreams are a detriment. So you succeed in destroying America to end the "slavery" of actually having to work for a living. Then what? Are you going to become a farmer? You? Are you going to make your own clothing? You? Are you going to be your own doctor?

So what have you accomplished by your lies (slavery) and your impossible fantasies? You've taken the most successful nation in human history as for prosperity for all, medicines for all, education for all and turned it into a jungle.

You've got to live in the real world, Alva.

Alva Goldbook said...

What fantasy world are YOU talking about Evan? Any person who is forced to labor under coercion is BY DEFINITION a slave. In the 1920’s it was generally understood by the public that WAGE-SLAVERY was not much different that chattel slavery. The primary difference is that you OWN the chattel slave, while you RENT to wage slave.

Who said I was setting up a fantasy world where everyone is their own boss? I was simply stating the reasons why being your own boss is so desirable. Or would you rather have someone else write your stand up material for you, and force you to recite it, whether you liked it or not?

Yes, we live in the real world, and one who looks at the real world, should understand real history. The economic system of capitalism has failed each and every time, with drastic consequences. The only thing that keeps capitalism from self destruction is MASSIVE regulation on its behavior. Still, it is an unstable system with periodic recessions and depressions, and the PEOPLE are the ones who always pay the price. It is an outdated institution that must be replaced.

If democracy is good enough for our politics, then why not for our economy? A system where all the economic decisions are made by the PEOPLE (decisions over resources, and the allocation of goods and services for example) would be a system that NEVER sees a recession unless the PEOPLE vote for a recession. It is an economy that is just as strong growing at 5% a year just as it is shrinking at 5% a year. It is a system that does not use BOSSES to tell wage slaves what to do, but a system that utilizes COLLECTIVE SELF MANAGEMENT to make and carry out decisions. It is a system called Participatory Economics.

And Evan, I’m sure CONSERVATIVES like Edmund Burke and King George III saw Jefferson’s ideas as childish too.

Anonymous said...

Alva,

The only people in this country who are forced to labor are Non-custodial parents. Everybody else can work or not, if they so choose. Admittedly, if nobody worked, things would fall apart, but each individual, except NCP, has the choice.

Moving on, your understanding of economics is childish at best. Our system comes closer to "democracy in the economy" than any system ever devised. Each individual consumer votes with their wallet. Each individual producer votes with their hands. All without the artificial structure of "an election system." Please, enlighten us as to how your vision of "the People" will undertake the BILLIONS of economic decisions made very day.

Bikerdad

Alva Goldbook said...

Bikerdad,
A slave always had the option not to work as well. He could refuse to work and be beaten with a whip, or he could run away and possibly be killed. A wage slave doesn’t have to work as well, he can simply go starve on the streets or find another “Massa”. So since chattel slaves had the option of running away or being beaten with whips, does that mean they were not slaves?

It’s quite an assumption for you to judge my knowledge of economics. Our economic system is nothing of the sort of any form of democracy. Do workers control their level of productivity, much less their labor? Do consumers control the working conditions of the workers who make the products they buy? When you buy a car the price is determined between buyer and seller. Does anyone else have a say in that? Shouldn’t they, considering roads must be built for you to use that car, oil must be pumped to fuel that car, and the rest of us must breathe in it’s pollution? There is absolutely no democracy in capitalism. Decisions involving the allocation of goods and services are made primarily by the producers. That is a select few individuals and institutions that make all the major economic decisions in this country over resources. Furthermore, you do not vote with your wallet. We live in an economic system where the number one industry is some form of public relations. Americans are constantly bombarded with information (called “propaganda” in more civilized times) that instills them with artificial wants and desires. Or did you come to your own conclusion that you must purchase tennis shoes with lights in them, edible underwear, cinnamon dental floss, and a clock that makes bird noises?

The billions of economic decisions should be made by the people affected by those decisions. Anything short of that is undemocratic. To explain how those decisions are to be made, would require writing about 50 pages of detailed information. That of course, is why I directed you folks to the Participatory Economics homepage. But the short answer to your question, is that the billions of economic decisions would be made by participatory self management.

Anonymous said...

A slave always had the option not to work as well. He could refuse to work and be beaten with a whip, or he could run away and possibly be killed. Nothing quite like introducing a staggering level of inanity to the discussion. A wage slave doesn’t have to work as well, he can simply go starve on the streets or find another “Massa”. Or, by gosh by golly, he could start his own economic activity. That is one of the key differences between real slaves and your illusory "wage slaves."

It’s quite an assumption for you to judge my knowledge of economics. Based on what your postings here thus far, I thought I was being quite charitable in limiting my assessment to your economic knowledge.
Our economic system is nothing of the sort of any form of democracy. Do workers control their level of productivity, much less their labor? Yes.
Do consumers control the working conditions of the workers who make the products they buy? If they choose to, because they simply say "we won't buy from that mean nasty company."
When you buy a car the price is determined between buyer and seller. Does anyone else have a say in that? Yup, every other buyer and seller has an influence on the price. Shouldn’t they, considering roads must be built for you to use that car, oil must be pumped to fuel that car, and the rest of us must breathe in it’s pollution? duh, taxes and regulation are components of the price of the car.
There is absolutely no democracy in capitalism. Decisions involving the allocation of goods and services are made primarily by the producers. And every time a producer makes a wrong decision, he suffers. When the General Motors made the decision to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars (FYI - thats a whole lotta goods and services) to making the Pontiac Aztek, they suffered.
That is a select few individuals and institutions that make all the major economic decisions in this country over resources. Would that be the Illuminati, Bilderberg Society, Skull and Crossbones, or AFL-CIO? Or maybe, just maybe, one of the major players in that is the Congress? nahhh, couldn't be...
Furthermore, you do not vote with your wallet. Aww, nuts, I've succumbed to false consciousness again! Thanks for enlightening me...
We live in an economic system where the number one industry is some form of public relations. Americans are constantly bombarded with information (called “propaganda” in more civilized times) that instills them with artificial wants and desires. Or did you come to your own conclusion that you must purchase tennis shoes with lights in them, edible underwear, cinnamon dental floss, and a clock that makes bird noises? First off, the number one industry isn't PR. Second, a philosophical and logical argument is quite easy to make that 90% of our economic activity hinges upon "artificial wants and desires." Once you get past growing, distributing and preparing simple gruel for folks living in tents (aka, "three hots and a cot"), you're into the realm of satisfying artificial wants and desires. The desire to read a good uplifitng progressive book is no more "real" than the desire to go blasting about the sand dunes on an ATV. Third, I don't purchase tennis with lights in them, edible underwear, I prefer mint floss over cinnamon over unflavored, and the last cuckoo clock I had expired as a result of catastrophic interaction with Newton's Laws. I express my righteous anger over the degradation of cuckoo birds for crass commercial and temporal purposes by not buying another cuckoo clock. (Either that, or I find them annoying and impractical, but the end result is the same, one less cuckoo clock sold.)
Nonetheless, your point about "propaganda" is really pretty interesting, because it exposes a fatal paradox in your position. On one hand, you appear to be arguing that our economic system is hopelessly flawed because the millions of "stakeholders" don't have any input into the economic decisions that affect them, but on the other hand you argue that those same people, as consumers, aren't smart enough to discern their own wants and desires, instead being infinitely malleable by the propagandists. I'm puzzled as to why you would want to put your economic destiny into the hands of such dolts.

The billions of economic decisions should be made by the people affected by those decisions. Anything short of that is undemocratic. To explain how those decisions are to be made, would require writing about 50 pages of detailed information. That of course, is why I directed you folks to the Participatory Economics homepage. But the short answer to your question, is that the billions of economic decisions would be made by participatory self management. I took a brief look at it, its little more than warmed over, discredited Marxism mixed with Star Trek economics. Still, in the interests of comity, let me ask you this: how does a "national consumer council" differ from "a select few individuals and institutions that make all the major economic decisions in this country over resources"?

Anonymous said...

And Evan, I’m sure CONSERVATIVES like Edmund Burke and King George III saw Jefferson’s ideas as childish too. - Alva

Dude, sometimes you just make this too easy...

In 1775 when a Virginia convention selected delegates to the Continental Congress, Jefferson was selected as an alternate. It was expected that Payton Randolph, (then Speaker of the Virginia House and president of the Continental Congress too,) would be recalled by the Royal Governor. This did happen and Jefferson went in his place. Thomas Jefferson had a theory about self governance and the rights of people who established habitat in new lands. Before attending the Congress in Philadelphia he codified these thoughts in an article called A Summary View of the Rights of British America. This paper he sent on ahead of him. He fell ill on the road and was delayed for several days. By the time he arrived, his paper had been published as a pamphlet and sent throughout the colonies & on to England where Edmund Burke, sympathetic to the colonial condition, had it reprinted and circulated widely.

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/jefferson.htm

Cheerio, BikerDad

Dale said...

Alva said "I challenge you to go back through his entire catalogue of songs and find me a single male figure (I know of only ONE female figure, from an obscure song called "The Wish") whose job isn't the source of agony."

You don't have to go far, actually. Just to Maria's Bed on Devils and Dust:

"Been on a barbed wire highway 40 days and nights / I ain't complainin', that's my job and it suits me right"

I saw Bruce on Saturday night in Vancouver. If you had heard him singing "Dream Baby Dream" you might have a different view. One of the most hopeful, uplifting performances I've ever seen.

Evan Sayet said...

Dale,

thanks for writing about Springsteen's "Devils and Dust" tour. Those words aren't exactly uplifting nor do they say anything good about work "Suits me right"? Why, because he's another loser in America who doesn't deserve any better than being on a "barbed wire highway..."

There are definately uplifting songs Bruce sings -- but they are usually about defeating these "badlands" and "heading straight into the storm" and being on "that hill" on time and "paying the cost."

Again, I was the world's biggest Springsteen fan. I still listen to his music from time to time but I am just plain sick of the leftists notion that somehow there is nobility in exagerating suffering and ignoring happiness. Truth requires balance and honesty not self-pity and sorrow all the time.

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