Monday, July 25, 2005

no thugs in our house

i made a playlist of some xtc for my portable digital music player this weekend. today i tested it out, plugging the device into speakers in the car and letting it rip, so to speak. soon i found myself bellowing "no thugs in our house" right along with andy partridge at the top of my lungs -- and this was with the top down. before 11 a.m. usually i do not sing in the car unless it's on the way home or i have been drinking (and if i'm singing in front of passengers i have probably been drinking a lot). the song started me thinking, as great pop will do: about the literal story being told -- basically, middle-class parents in something less than denial that their son is a racist terrorizer -- so vividly i could see the characters playing out the tale of the lyrics; about the time and place the song came from, early '80s england; about the ways in which the song applies now ... whether to something like columbine, or more metaphorically to the bush administration and the war on you-know-what (WRT guantanamo bay, abu ghraib, etc.).

the whole fucking world is blowing up, one site at a time. when will it come here? oh, yeah -- it already did. "what is happening now has happened before, and will happen again." that's not scripture, it's battlestar galactica. the world over, cops and soldiers shoot wildly, yet with deadly accuracy, at once in policy and afraid for their own lives ... and innocents die. and they say it is just the collateral damage, just the collateral damage, only the price of freedom, the price of safety, so why you gettin' so upset?

tonight on the way home i continued my way through the xtc playlist, and on came "in loving memory of a name," a genteel pop number by bassist colin moulding (he of the many genteel pop numbers). it's kind of a sappy tune, i guess, in which i imagine the singer sitting in some mossy church graveyard, reflecting on the noble fellows buried at his feet. but, it's like ... somebody was so moved to write a song about people who voluntarily sacrificed themselves for their country. in a way it made me want to visit a place like that when i go to scotland later this summer. in another way it made me wonder if a future generation of pensive, cemetery-sitting, eccentric pop songwriters will be writing odes to all those who accidentally gave their lives for someone else's country.

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