micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
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Monday, March 03, 2003
Please help me forget!
The bellicose Toby Keith song “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue (The Angry American)” looks like a masterpiece when compared to Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten?” (Click here for the song in Real Audio and here for it in Windows Media.) The song by Keith, who like Worley is on the Dreamworks Nashville record label, at least was interesting in that it was purely about revenge and made it clear that the singer’s patriotic credentials stem from his father’s military service, not his own. “Have You Forgotten?” is pure idiocy as the lyrics make clear:
I hear people saying we don't need this warThis clearly is a call for war in Iraq but I am completely confused on how taking over another country protects freedom in the United States. It is also unclear how not attacking a country that is not a threat to the U.S. is an example of “backing down.” I do give Worley points for still be friends with the infidels of the “war on terror,” however, which I guess includes me because of I don’t favor escalating the current war with Iraq. I don’t even want to touch the matter of how land was “acquired” in the U.S.
Have you forgotten how it felt that dayMy answer to all of three questions in this chorus is no. I would like to ask, who exactly is saying not to worry about bin Laden? And what does Iraq have to do with bin Laden? Justifying escalating the current war with Iraq on the basis of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks makes about as much sense as saying the Vietnam War was just because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. I mean the Japanese and Vietnamese are both Asian.
They took all the footage off my T.V.I disagree with the part about showing the footage of September 11, 2001 every day because I really don’t see what the point of doing so would be –the U.S. is already using that day’s events for a war without end, so how much more anger is needed?- but I agree completely with the last two lines, although I don’t think the U.S. “looking for a fight” is a good thing.
After a repeat of the chorus the song goes on:
I've been there with the soldiersFunny the song never explains why the U.S. is about to take over Iraq but just assumes that it is known.
Next up is a variation on the chorus that says nothing:
Have you forgotten all the people killed?Mix in some horribly generic pop country background music and you have a song that apparently is a hit on country radio. The song is a celebration of understanding the world solely through what Team Bush and the less intellectual of Bush’s unpaid propagandists say.
Maybe the lesson is that as bad as the music on country radio is, it is bound to be worse in a couple of months. How depressing.
UPDATE:The question of when ""Have You Forgotten?" was written has arisen. "Worley, who co-wrote the song with Wynn Varble, was inspired to pen the tune after returning from a recent USO tour entertaining troops in Afghanistan," writes Chrissie Dickinson in the March 3 edition of The Chicago Tribune.
"I said to Wynn, `I really feel like we need to write a song together that will honor our troops in some way and lift them up," Worley recalls. "That's really what this is about. And at the same time, I felt we could also send out a message. It's real easy to forget about the kind of thing that happened to us on 9/11. We just wrote the song from the heart, and expressed the way we feel about things."I guess it is form of "honor" to place the troops in the category of being an archetype that only exists to the extent that it knows better than the ostensible audience of the song, but it seems rather shallow to me.
I found this part of Dickinson's article hilarious:
Worley disagrees with the charge that his single endorses war with Iraq.Yeah right. The first verse of this song is based on the idea that there are some people who are opposed to "this war" but they are wrong because some wars in the past were good wars -if one war in the past was "worth fighting," it apparently follows that all wars are "worth fighting" in Worley's mind- and that the opponents of "this war" would see the error of their ways if they just remember one thing, which the chorus explains to be the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The idea that there are people in the U.S. who have forgotten the events of a little less than 18 months ago is priceless because it probably does reveal something about much of the hawkish mentality. My guess is that those who think President George W. Bush makes perfect sense when he justifies conquering Iraq on the basis of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks see the events of the day that I have said "for the foreseeable future will be signified by the phrases 'September 11,' 'September the 11th,' 'nine-eleven' and '911'” as being so significant as to actually have created a world where everything has changed. They can't imagine not favoring war with just about anybody that Bush says is an enemy in his "war on terror" in light of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and, according to my theory, thus assume that anybody who opposes escalating the current war with Iraq must not remember that day.
Worley can't even stay in his ecumenical mode for very long, however, hence the "Even with the people who stand up against the war..." bit. He clearly has taken a side and Worley isn't sharing space in the barricade with opponents of escalating the current war.
"Have You Forgotten?" has a dynamic that it shares with Merle Haggard's "The Fightin' Side of Me" and Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)." All three songs on the surface talk to those who disagree with the speaker in each song and yet have become celebrations for those who do agree with the speaker. This isn't unique to right-wing country songs, as most pop and country songs that have sing-along appeal have it because the audience identifies with the speaker, but it does suggest that the point to these very political songs is not convince or change minds but rather to create a common bond based on a few shared stands and a belief that too many people don't see things the way they ought to, which is to say the way the song does. 11:25 a.m. 03/04/03.