Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Songs of the 47% ~ Are You Listening, Mitt?

It used to be that music brought people together. Everyone listened to the same songs on the radio, in the elevator, in the grocery store, and on MTV. It was a common bond between us - and a common band -  so a song about a social issue could be a hit and might even change society.

Today, not so much. Like everything else in society, music is fragmented, not just by the death of MTV, but by endless playlists available YouTube and on websites like Pandora, or the focus of your personal iPod or iPhone. The songs that tend to rise to the surface are catchy oddities like "Call me Maybe" or "Gangnam Style."

And while I love all the variety, I believe that music does touch the heart, and in the past we had songwriters who could give us a gut-check about society, whether it was the anti-war movement or the plight of the poverty-stricken here at home.

But now, even the Boomer generation seems to have forgotten the empathy of days gone by, and Mitt Romney is a prime example with his callous remarks in Boca Raton that echo is party's hard stance on anyone who makes the actual median income of this country or lower.

Yesterday, Chris Matthews opened Hardball on MSNBC by singing a few lines from Fiddler on the Roof:

Caught! Let's Play Hardball
(Hardball Theme plays)
Hello this is Chris Matthews in New York.
Let me start tonight with:
If I were a rich man,
Yubba, Dibby, Dibby
Dibby, Dibby, Dibby, Dibby Dum.

Good point, Chris. I stole your idea and put the complete song below.

The past few days have made me realize that Mitt's playlist, and indeed the playlists of the Republicans in general, might be lacking some compassion and knowledge of the American experience outside their marble halls full of $50,000-a-plate donors, so here are some reminders. Whether you are in the 1%, the 47% or the 99% - listen up!

If I were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof

(SPOKEN:) Dear God, you made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, that
it's no great shame to be poor... but it's no great honor, either. So what would have
been the difference if I had... a small fortune?

...The most important men in town will come to fawn on me--
They will ask me to advise them,
Like a Solomon the Wise--
"If you please, Reb Tevye?"--
"Pardon me, Reb Tevye?"--
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes--
(chanting) Ya va voy, ya va voy voy vum...
And it won't make one bit of difference
If I answer right or wrong--
When you're rich, they think you really know.

Man in Black by Johnny Cash

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Living on the hungry hopeless side of town.
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine I do suppose,
With our streak a'lightnin' cars and fancy clothes
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front their ought to be a man in black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs

Walk a Mile in my Shoes by Joe South

If I could be you, if you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside
Each other's mind

If you could see you through my eyes
Instead your ego
I believe you'd be, I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Now your whole world you see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of karma says you’re gonna reap
Just what you sow, yes you will
So unless
You’ve lived a life of
Total perfection
You’d better be careful
Of every stone
That you should throw, yeah

And yet we spend the day
Throwing stones
At one another
‘Cause I don’t think
Or wear my hair
The same way you do, mmm
Well I may be
Common people
But I’m your brother
And when you strike out
And try to hurt me
It’s a-hurtin’ you, lord have mercy

Now there are people on reservations
And out in the ghetto
And brother there, but for the grace of god
Go you and I

Little Pink Houses by John Mellencamp

There's a black man with a black cat
Livin' in a black neighborhood
He's got an interstate
Runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks that he's got it so good
And there's a woman in the kitchen
Cleanin' up the evenin' slop
And he looks at her and says, hey darlin'
I can remember when you could stop a clock

Oh, but ain't that America
For you and me
Ain't that America
Something to see, baby
Ain't that America
Home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses
For you and me
Oooh, yeah
For you and me

Well, there's a young man in a t-shirt
Listenin' to a rockin' rollin' station
He's got greasy hair, greasy smile
He says, Lord this must be my destination
'Cause they told me when I was younger
Said boy, you're gonna be president
But just like everything else
Those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

Oh, but ain't that America
For you and me

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

I was born by the river in a little tent
And just like that river I've been running ever since
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die
Cos I don't know what's out there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie
And I go down town
somebody keep telling me don't hang around
Its been along time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gone come, oh yes it will

Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton

Back through the years
I go wonderin' once again
Back to the seasons of my youth
I recall a box of rags that someone gave us
And how my momma put the rags to use
There were rags of many colors
Every piece was small
And I didn't have a coat
And it was way down in the fog
Momma sewed the rags together
Sewin' every piece with love
She made my coat of many colors
That I was so proud of
As she sewed, she told a story
From the bible, she had read
About a coat of many colors
Joseph wore and then she said
Perhaps this coat will bring you
Good luck and happiness
And I just couldn't wait to wear it
And momma blessed it with a kiss

My coat of many colors
That my momma made for me
Made only from rags
But I wore it so proudly
Although we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

So with patches on my britches
Holes in both my shoes
In my coat of many colors
I hurried off to school
Just to find the others laughing
And making fun of me
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me

And oh I couldn't understand it
For I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love
My momma sewed in every stitch
And I told 'em all the story
Momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors
Was worth more than all their clothes

But they didn't understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me

Workin' at the Car Wash Blues by Jim Croce

Well, I had just got out from the county prison
Doin ninety days for non-support
Tried to find me an executive position
But no matter how smooth I talked
They wouldnt listen to the fact that I was a genius
The man say, we got all that we can use.
Now i got them steadily depressin, low down mind messin
Working at the car wash blues

Well, I should be sittin in an air conditioned office in a swivel chair
Talkin some trash to the secretaries
Sayin, here, now mama, come on over here.
Instead, Im stuck here rubbin these fenders with a rag
And walkin home in soggy old shoes
With them steadily depressin, low down mind messin
Workin at the car wash blues

You know a man of my ability
He should be smokin on a big cigar
But till I get myself straight I guess Ill just have to wait
In my rubber suit a-rubbin these cars

Well, all I can do is a shake my head
You might not believe that its true
For workin at this end of niagara falls
Is an undiscovered howard hughes

So baby, dont expect to see me
With no double martini in any high-brow society news
Cause I got them steadily depressin, low down mind messin
Workin at the car wash blues

The Way it Is by Bruce Hornsby

Standin' in line marking time
Waiting for the welfare dime
'Cause they can't buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old lady's eyes
Just for fun he says, 'Get a job'

That's just the way it is
Some things'll never change
That's just the way it is
Ha, but don't you believe them

Said, 'Hey little boy you can't go
Where the others go
Cause you don't look like they do'
Said, 'Hey, old man how can you stand
To think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules?'
He said, 'Son

That's just the way it is
Some things'll never change
That's just the way it is'
Ha, but don't you believe them

Well, they passed a law in '64
To give those who ain't got, a little more
But it only goes so far
'Cause the law don't change another's mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar
But who knows

That's just the way it is
Some things'll never change (right)
That's just the way it is
That's just they way it is, it is, when you're waiting.

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