Friday, January 02, 2009

A Bush Bash

OF COURSE I'M BIASED, but I may have just created the ultimate George W. Bush-bashing CD. Now, the search for the perfect mix tape has been an ongoing activity of mine from way back in the Album & Cassette Age, almost Sisyphean in its ultimate unattainability and pure unreachableness. Indeed, there may be no such thing as a perfect mix of music: I realize perfect for me may not be perfect for y'all, and vice-versa. But most of us can agree that it's high time we mark the end of our long, long national nightmare, and to that end I offer up a soundtrack, because to realize that two depraved, corrupted Sons of Bushes were allowed to govern this silly little nation-state of ours for 12 of the past 20 years is enough to blow a seismic hole in the sanest of minds.

Anyway, if you go to, you can find audio clips of the outgoing p(R)esident himself butchering the mother tongue with a severity heretofore unmatched. For instance, the mix starts off with his infamous "Fool Me Once" gaffe--
"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."
--followed up with Neil Young's Walk On. Simple, but effective, as in WOULD YOU PLEASE EXIT THE WORLD STAGE NOW THAT YOU'RE FINISHED SCREWING EVERYTHING UP. Now, I could have been obvious and followed that up with Young's "Campaigner" ("Even Richard Nixon has got soul..."), or maybe something from his own recent anti-Bush album, Living With War, but that would break an elemental rule of mixtape/CD-making: Thou Mayest Only Use One Cut Per Artist, No Exceptions. I didn't make the rule, but it's one I follow religiously, for better or worse, unless of course it's a Double Shots or Triple Play compilation where you set out to pair two or three songs per artist in hopes of harmonic convergence, world peace or some similar lofty goal.

I stumbled on the phenomenon of the MP3 Blog quite by accident a few months ago. I was looking for some song lyrics, and lo and behold a new universe slowly revealed itself to me, and it was Good and Plentiful it somewhat borderline legal. These sites, with names like Star Maker Machine, Boogie Woogie Flu, Aquarium Drunkard, snuhthing/anything, Locust Street and Rising Storm, typically feature heartfelt, passionate writing about songs and albums and such that touched a chord, sparked a feeling, changed a life, or just sounded good together.

We go from the aforementioned "Walk On" to "Harlem Shuffle," a song covered by the Rolling Stones a few decades back. Turns out the original version was by Bob & Earl. Also turns out Earl Lee Nelson died last year, both facts I learned on a Street called Locust just a few short days ago.

The mix moves on with a clip of clueless Bush trying to explain what "Sovereignty" is to an audience that can scarcely believe its ears, such are the obvious mental shortcomings on display by the titular leader of the proverbial free world. Remember that beauty from 2004? When asked about Indial tribal issues, Bush responded thusly:
"Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a — you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities." (see it here)
I truly believe that Bush had some kind of reverse King Midas thing going on these last 8 years, where everything this clueless putz touched literally blew up in his/our face(s). Assuming, that is, you weren't in the defense or oil services industry. It would be funny in a surreal kind of way if we weren't all living with the tragic consequences. It is as if Kenny Lay was in charge of the whole goddamn country these last 8 years, but instead of just running Enron into the ground...well, you know the rest. Now, after he physically vacates the premises, and following some sort of exorcism of his cursed spirit, the national karma can finally begin its healing process.

But let's return again to the issue at hand, my fellow 'mericans, as we continue our Music for a Bush Bash mix. Following the second Bush gaffe, we segue into Bob Dylan's "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?", a somewhat obscure track from the Highway 61 sessions that never made it onto the album but easily sits among my 5 all-time favorite Dylan songs. It's got a slightly venomous, accusatory tone (said venom rumored to be directed toward Andy Warhol), similar to "Positively 4th Street" and "Queen Jane Approximately," only with better, more frantic guitar work. Not a political tune per se, but as I may or may not have already said, I'm going for timeless subtlety here.

Next it's "White as Diamonds" by someone who apparently calls herself Alele Diane. I downloaded the song like 2 days ago, have no idea what it's about, but it's folkish and I decided to squeeze it in. It may be a reach, but you don't want to be too dogmatic while trying to stick to the theme. Only time will tell and even time has its off moments. You don't need me to tell you that.

(Officially decided to call the mix A Bush Bash. Notice the play on words, Bash meaning to harshly criticize as well as the more vernacular party. Man, am I on my game today or what?)

We get back to basics with Billy Bragg (under the pseudonym Johnny Clash) singing -- get this -- "Bush War Blues" with lines like "Troops in Iraq wanna know what they're righting for, it's George W. Bush's reelection war." Can't remember where I found this, but if I can't use it now, then when, knowwhatimean? I think you do.

We're really rolling along now, so I hit you with Joe Strummer's "Forbidden City," followed by Kathleen Edwards' "In State," the Kinks' "Some Mother's Son" (Some mother's son lies in a field/ Someone has killed some mother's son today/Head blown up by some soldier's gun) and then a spoken word dealio by William Burroughs called "When Did I Stop Wanting to be President?" I've never really listened to it in its entirety, but I have a good feeling it's gonna fit into the mix both literally and figuratively.

The next song at first seems like a real head scratcher: a cover of the Beatles' "Run For Your Life" by one Nancy Sinatra. Lyrically it kind of mirrors how a whole lot of us feel about the former Decider-In-Chief. Think about it and get back to me later. I got all day here.

We're still only about halfway through this 80-minute shindig when I throw "Fake Empire" by Brooklyn's own The National. I know, I know, I'm namedropping here, but when it's serving a higher purpose it's not as pathetic as it looks at first glance.

We got a little retro with Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man." Sure, it's essentially a love song, but imagine if you will a disgraced Bush lip-syncing along to a line like "I'll be what I am, Solitary Man." I know I will.

The home stretch begins with the Yardbirds' "Stroll On," which is actually "Train Kept a-Rollin'" with slightly different lyrics, but it's too good a song to pass up no matter what the context, followed by "Cry Tough," a reggae song by Alton Ellis. That brings us to another fairly hard and fast mix CD rule: There's really no reason not to include at least one reggae or ska song in every compilation. Next is XTC's White Album-ish "Dear God."

We start to close things out with an alternate version of the Byrds' "One Hundred Years From Now," then Captain Beefheart's "I'm Gonna Booglarize You," Carbon/Silicon's "What the Fuck" and the Clash's swirling "Somebody's Got Murdered." For the unitiated, Carbon/Silicon is Mick Jones' new band. C'mon, you're better than that.

Commander Cody provides a nice change of pace next with "Daddy's Gonna Treat You Right," and in our context let's say the words can get a little creepy. Then it's "Be Stiff" by Devo, and finally "God Save the USA" by the reliably incendiary Pennywise.

So that's it. I think we learned a little here today and, more importantly, it's now safe to celebrate the end of Bush's Reign of Error while simultaneously looking forward to better days.

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