Saturday, April 29, 2006

An Iraqi Man Don’t Need Him Around Anyhow

The headline is a takeoff on a line from the Lynyrd Skynryd song Sweet Home Alabama, a response to Neil Young’s Southern Man, an often well deserved indictment of the southern US. Mr. Young has long lyrically thumbed his nose at “the establishment”, conservatives, and whatever he sees as wrong, usually it is a stance that does not make him out of step with his peers. In his song Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil seemed to complain that Bush I was the cause of drug addiction. A subject that he had written about in 1975’s Tonight’s the Night, a painful song about heroin addiction. Obviously that song was written long before Bush I was in office as either the President or the Vice President. The line from Rockin’ in the Free World that I personally found most poignant was a description of a child who, may have been abandoned by his crack addicted mother. Young describes the kid with these words:
“There's one more kid
that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love,
never get to be cool.”
That line is an apt description of children’s lives in much of the Mid-East and in fact much of the third world. It’s a shame that Neil and his fellow musicians are not able to see that the policies that they espouse are an anathema to the idea of being “cool”. “Cool” can’t be bought and it sure as hell can’t be dictated by a government. I have a Beatles EP record that was smuggled out of the old Soviet Union during the ‘70s. Whoever made that record was cool, even though the cover still smells like the barnyard hay that it was probably made out of. What I am trying to say is that in repressive regimes “cool” is being against the regime that will not allow uncensored ideas. Here we are in the United States, arguably the freest nation in world history, and the people who consider themselves to be the most “cool” believe that “cool” lies in taking on a government that is promoting freedom. I think that they have it backwards. Unfortunately the world is full of kids who will “never get to be cool” and some of them would be just as happy blowing up Neil Young as blowing up the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.


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