Saturday, April 22, 2006

THIS IS OUR COUNTRY-- JOHN MELLENCAMP HAS A NEW SONG FOR A POST-BUSH ERA

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In the last couple of weeks I've written some stories about Neil Young's next album, LIVING WITH WAR. You've probably learned by now that Neil and Reprise Records have decided to stream, the album, free of charge, starting next week (April 28) at NeilYoung.com, preceding the release of the physical album (which they are rushing out into the market as fast as they can; best guestimate: mid-May). Meanwhile more lyrics are made available everyday at NeilYoung.com/

Today I noticed that Neil had put up the words to one of my favorite songs on the album, "Lookin' For A Leader," a very positive and forward-looking track that will certainly give Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell supporters pause for thought. I like the healing quality of the way Neil put the song together and, Lord knows, after all the divisiveness of this chicken-without-a-head Bush Regime, healing is exactly what we need. Judging by the scores of vicious, and mostly unprintable, comments I've had about "Let's Impeach The President" from Bush deadenders, that isn't a song that will heal the divisiveness Karl Rove has so carefully and effectively crafted. "Lookin' For A Leader," though, could help move the country into the right head space.

But Neil isn't the only high-profile, respected artist writing songs along these lines. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Neil's pals The Dixie Chicks are back with a great new song "Not Ready To Make Nice". Artists young and old have been looking at what the Bush Regime has been up, feeling revulsion and expressing that revulsion in songs. Green Day's AMERICAN IDIOT has joined the ranks of one of the best selling albums of all times, not just in the U.S., but everywhere in the free-ish world. Bruce Springsteeen fans know about his deep and on-going concerns and about his latest endeavors in this direction. The other day I watched a live acoustic video from Pink and in the introduction she mentions that her new song, "Dear Mr. President," is "one of the most important songs I've ever written." Watch it here. Flea, the beloved Red Hot Chili Peppers bass player wrote a great e-mail to Atrios that I suggest everyone read.

Now a few weeks ago I did a little story about how singer/songwriter/painter/social activist John Mellencamp was rumored to be thinking about tossing his hat into electoral politics. A mutual friend called me and told me that Mellencamp got a chuckle about the idea but that it's not true. He's not running for governor of Indiana or for any other office. End of story. But certainly not the end of Mellencamp's social activism.

If you were lucky enough to have seen any of the shows on his recent concert tour, "The Words and Music Tour," you know he started every show with a song that has never appeared on any of his albums, a song he wrote recently-- and will probably record in the future-- called "This Is Our Country." It's the kind of song that will help bind together that which has been so violently torn asunder by Bush, Cheney, Rove and the vicious partisan and self-serving brutes that make up the bandit Regime that has gotten its hands-- through hook and crook-- on the levers of power in America.


I can stand beside
Things I think are right
And I can stand beside
The idea of stand and fight
And I do believe
There’s a dream for everyone
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country

There's room enough here
For science to live
And there's room enough here
For religion to forgive
And try to understand
The other people of this world
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country
 
That poverty could be
Just another ugly thing
And bigotry could be
Seen only as obscene
And the ones that run this land
Will help the poor and common man
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country
 
The dream will never leave
And some day it will come true
And it’s up to me and you
To do the best that we can do
And let the voice of freedom
Sing out through this land
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country


Another Hollywood librul for Fox and the Republican Noise Machine to swiftboat? Hardly. They can try all they like but John Mellencamp was born, raised and still lives with his family in Indiana. He's a blue collar rocker who puts his money where his mouth is, not just with Farm Aid, but on a day-to-day basis.

In April, in the middle of his tour, he played the brand new repulsively-named "U.S. Cellular Coliseum" in Bloomington, Illinois. Working men and women from the Central Illinois Organizing Project contacted him before the tour to let him know about their effort to get city workers a "living wage."
The organization, which covers 12 central Illinois counties, calculates a living wage as the hourly wage necessary to maintain a standard one-bedroom apartment where the rent does not exceed 30% of a person's income. The living wage for Bloomington is around $9.58 per hour, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. (The Coliseum workers are paid $6.75/hour.)

I guess an alternative is that Republicans can continue to turn a blind eye on "illegal immigrants" to swamp the country's labor markets so their greed-obsessed financial backers can continue to deny the whole concept of a "living wage."

Mellencamp's response to the workers? "It's only right that working people in this country earn a living wage. It's just basic to the value system that is part of being an American," said Mellencamp, who met personally with some of the workers before he went on stage and then dedicated "Jackie Brown" to them, telling the audience "We need to help each other as much as we can." If Barack Obama and other Beltway Democrats are having trouble figuring out what Democratic values are, they should ask Mellencamp-- and anyone else who doesn't make a career out of partisan politics.

Note on the art: Everyone I've shown Mellencamp's lyrics to has had a great reaction, although, of course, no two responses are identical. Adam, our Art Director, may have been a little drunk, but he got to work immediately putting his powerful feelings to work to express how he felt about Mellencamp's song. Sophie and Sadie both think he went a little over the top but they've never gotten past "Jack and Diane" and "Pink Houses" being played for hours on end by Sophie's son the school teacher.

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32 Comments:

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I think it's great that there are some high-profile artists that are responding to the abysmal current state of affairs. However, I IMPLORE you, if this is about reaching out to one another to help improve our situation, I IMPLORE you to please give low-profile arttists a listen as well. These independent,younger musicians are speaking for us, too.

I wish that the older generationl(Neil Young), would put out a helping hand to his fellow younger musician.
The younger generation IS looking for help and support from its forefathers, such as with this song, where Joel Moore takes inspiration from Bob Dylan's song and re-works it.



"Taking Liberty"

*[Come gather round people wherever you roam
and admit that the waters around you have grown
and accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
if your time to you is worth saving
then you'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone
for the times they are a]* blazin'

Come writers and artists who prophesize with your zen
the very essence of life one must defend
we must call out the lies while earth can still spin
and every living soul time is now naming
our planet cannot allow further damage from men
for the times they are a raging

Politicos and diplomats please heed the call
actions abroad instigate your empire's fall
the hungry and the poor ones are being killed in your squall
the complicit left the battle stage decades ago
but somethings gonna give your hate is rubbing us raw
for the times they are a caged in

The politics of children they poison the land
legislate back-scratching language favors e-cash trading hands
the affects of their high game mugshot all living man
if you'd just look into a mirror of uninformed decision
your zero purchase precision supply and demand
has turned us all into children being born without hands
for the time's a sale in the making

Tax dollars add up to billions pay to subdue foreign man
whose gods and whose hopes dont fit into our plans
as violence becomes us and artiface our dope
we expand annihilation to galactic scope
as childish molesters dress up just like the pope
and we accept lies in a hangknot rope
for the times they are enslaving"


If Joel were given a platform, alongside someone like Neil Young- how powerful would that be? This curent generation is SO disenfranchised and apathetic, that it COULD help to ignite their spirit if someone AUTHENTIC from their own age group was supported by an AUTHENTIC and renowned older musician, it could really help to wipe away some of the apathy and distrust that is paralyzing our youth and making us all more powerless.

 
At 11:02 PM, Blogger Sini said...

Hey Mr. K. do you know the Curtis Mayfield song "This is My Country?" I played that one over and over again in the weeks following Katrina.

 
At 11:23 AM, Blogger Chicago said...

Howie:

Went to school in Bloomington--known at the time as 'the oasis in the desert'. Bloomington is the Ann Arbor/Madison of Indiana.

I feel for the rest of the state.

 
At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Bloomington. Yes, it's a liberal mecca in a state full of conservatives. Mellencamp has embraced this liberal side of the state, maybe he thinks he speaks for the common man, but he does not speak for me. As for the new song, I love it. I see no politics in it. John's open letter to the public by the same title is dripping with a message that I hear the rest of the country rejecting. "Bush lied" is a statment, that we all know, originated in New York, not the Great Midwest. The people that we are at war with, hate us for our freedom. That is what John loves. When will he understand the fight is not with Bush? The war is Islam vs. everyone else in the world. It is especially against Israel the one country that backs Israel - "Our Country"! John, when are you coming back home to your roots? You've spent too much time talking (or listening) to the media, the union worker, and the celeb du jour. Seymour Indiana loves Jesus, Conservitism, and does not approve of Bush bashing! I love the great State of Indiana.

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Mike Healy said...

It certainly is!!! The peoples republik of Bloomington.

 
At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Alan B. said...

Mellencamp's feelings about the war & this administration are well know thanks in part to his open letter that was published back in 2003. In that letter he addressed everything from the war to corporate greed. Now he has this song called "Our Country." I actually like the song, however I find it interesting and amusing at the same time that you will most likely hear that song in a commercial for Chevy trucks. Don't you find it interesting that a song like this is being used to sell the products of one of the world's largest corporations? I guess corporate greed only applies to Republicans. Further, GM makes gas guzzling vehicles that contribute to global warming and our reliance on foreign oil. But I guess Mellencamp needed to make a quick buck, even on a song that he has deemed very personal to him. Everybody has a price I guess. It is this kind of hypocrisy that divides our country, and it exists heavily on both sides of the political fence. Those that blindly follow the Democrats and buy into everything they say are just as guilty as the Bush cheerleaders. If you oppose an issue strictly because it was proposed by a Republican, you are just as guilty as those who serve as "yes" men to the administration. And Mr. Mellencamp has proven that he is as big a sellout as any right-wing nut job that he criticizes.

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Wouldn't skipping the gig at the "U.S. Cellular Coliseum" in Bloomington have been the more heartfelt, gutsy, and authentic reply to the concerns of the working men and women of Bloomington?

I would find the lyrics of "Our Country" to be fine words indeed, if kept within innocent isolation. But the first time I heard it was on a Chevy truck commercial, and now I keep hearing it a billion times more during every sports program I watch. Weren't Chevy the guys who played "Small Town" while selling trucks to the suburban cowboys across "Our Country"? Has Mellencamp got a long-term contract with GM? Or do his talents just translate well into corporate schmaltz as they busy themselves convincing us to buy American, not Japanese?

If this healing—"binding”!—message about post-Bush America debuts within a megacorporation advertisement selling sentimental hometown America to credulous cowboys with lots of cash, what’s the likelihood that it is anything other than a calculated artistic one, as empty as the pickup bed and the promise of a “fully-loaded” Silverado?

 
At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL what a joke. Song isn't too bad, but the whole Chevy commerical is such bullcrap, a bunch of conservative crap. The first time I watched it, I noticed how the black people, like MLK JR. and Rosa Parks, are both in black and white and right after their scenes, it cuts to a huge colorful contrast with white peoples. That's bullcrap. It's like the message tehy're giving of downplaying racism and discrimination and deeming it something old and from the past, and also that what they did isn't really worthy. Also notice near the end there is a black dude just standing all by himself standing next to a truck and doing nothing. Then they contrast it with the white dudes who are shown travelling together and building stuff, making progress. Shit the whole ad is so freaking racist, pisses me off.

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful how much you idolize this guy Mellencamp. I grew up to his music, loved it, played it incessantly, and took his message to heart. Then my kid won a contest about five years ago to go backstage at one of his concerts and get a guitar from the rock star, signed by him. Mellencamp showed up 20 minutes late. I was looking forward to the meeting, and my kid was more geeked than me. Mellencamp finally shows up, saunters into the dressing room like some high school dropout from cheap "B" movie with a burning cigarette hanging out his trap, walks up toward me, never looks me or my kid in the eye, looking at the floor the whole time. He stands there, runs his hand through his hair, says nothing. A pregnant pause with his two handlers standing there and the radio station rep who ran the contest. Finally I stick out my hand and say, "Mr. Mellencamp this is a real honor for me. I've admired your work since I was in high school. Thank you. This is my son Steven, he loves your work, too." Mellencamp drags on his butt and mumbles, "Yeah, whatever." He grabs the signed guitar from the nearby stand and shoves it at arm's length toward me, not my kid. I say, "Uh, Steven won the contest, not me." He shoves the guitar at my kid, who takes it reluctantly. Mellencamp wheels around and splits. Just like that. My kid looks at me and says, "What a jerk. Was he stoned?" I shook my head and said, "I'm sorry son." We didn't stay for the concert. All those LPs of his that I had kept went in the garage sale and guess what? Nobody bought em. I call that poetic justice.

Be careful of those who preach for public consumption and then turn into something else when no one is watching who can help their "cause."
Little did he know that I am a successful businessman and had contributed over 5,000 to Farm Aid. No more after that. My kid--now a college grad--thinks it's a joke that his song is now used to sell the same Chevy truck we drove to that ill-fated concert that night.
He turned to classical and jazz music as a result of one jerk rock star, so if you have any delusions about these idols of yours helping you out, freakin' ferget it. I suppose people can change. Let's hope so.

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful how much you idolize this guy Mellencamp. I grew up to his music, loved it, played it incessantly, and took his message to heart. Then my kid won a contest about five years ago to go backstage at one of his concerts and get a guitar from the rock star, signed by him. Mellencamp showed up 20 minutes late. I was looking forward to the meeting, and my kid was more geeked than me. Mellencamp finally shows up, saunters into the dressing room like some high school dropout from cheap "B" movie with a burning cigarette hanging out his trap, walks up toward me, never looks me or my kid in the eye, looking at the floor the whole time. He stands there, runs his hand through his hair, says nothing. A pregnant pause with his two handlers standing there and the radio station rep who ran the contest. Finally I stick out my hand and say, "Mr. Mellencamp this is a real honor for me. I've admired your work since I was in high school. Thank you. This is my son Steven, he loves your work, too." Mellencamp drags on his butt and mumbles, "Yeah, whatever." He grabs the signed guitar from the nearby stand and shoves it at arm's length toward me, not my kid. I say, "Uh, Steven won the contest, not me." He shoves the guitar at my kid, who takes it reluctantly. Mellencamp wheels around and splits. Just like that. My kid looks at me and says, "What a jerk. Was he stoned?" I shook my head and said, "I'm sorry son." We didn't stay for the concert. All those LPs of his that I had kept went in the garage sale and guess what? Nobody bought em. I call that poetic justice.

Be careful of those who preach for public consumption and then turn into something else when no one is watching who can help their "cause."
Little did he know that I am a successful businessman and had contributed over 5,000 to Farm Aid. No more after that. My kid--now a college grad--thinks it's a joke that his song is now used to sell the same Chevy truck we drove to that ill-fated concert that night.
He turned to classical and jazz music as a result of one jerk rock star, so if you have any delusions about these idols of yours helping you out, freakin' ferget it. I suppose people can change. Let's hope so.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

"John Mellencamp doesn't CARE about black people."

 
At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude - You totally missed the mark on Mellencamp's Our Country. I don
't see this as necessarily anti-Bush..it's actually an attack on all the bi-partisan politics ON BOTH SIDES. It's as much anti-Bush as it is Anti-Kerry.

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They can try all they like but John Mellencamp was born, raised and still lives with his family in Indiana. He's a blue collar rocker who puts his money where his mouth is, not just with Farm Aid, but on a day-to-day basis."


He lives most of the time in his mansion(s)in Savannah, GA. And every time I've seen him and his wife their look is pure Eurotrash.

He's about as "blue collar" as Iggy Pop!

 
At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are are a retard.

 
At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS SONG MAKES ME WANT TO BARF

 
At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think this is a liberal song? It's as anti-liberal as it goes.

There is a difference in ideals. Liberal politicians want to run your life, conservative want you to run your own life, as long as you don't intrude in someone elses freedom... remember, it's your country, not owned by politicians.

There is room for everyone, every religion, so don't try and kill religion.
The idea is to help those in need, not give them endless handouts. Those who should be helping is me and you, NOT the government. These are conservative principles.

 
At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Bill B. said...

Be careful printing from this site. You'll get 10 pages of nothing before you get text.
Other comments: We are at war with an implacable foe and NOW is a time for unity.

 
At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Dave said...

Never mind the messenger, just feel the message....
Dave

 
At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm I strong California Reagan Conservative and think this song is great. I guess this song can be seen from various different angles, but the theme is there; we are all Americans first, regardless of who the President is or what his policies are. I certainly believe in what Mellencamp says in this song; freedom of religion, helping the common man and poor, leaving room for various peoples' points of view. Those attributes are what make our country the greatest on Earth. Though I would probably disagree with John Mellencamp on siveral (smaller) issues, we both love America, and want to see her people unified.

 
At 12:45 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

As long as we all disagree within the context of being Americans first, all is ok!

 
At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who read Flea's e-mail? That was hilarious -- seriously, it made my day.

Probably the most incoherent, illogical, unfounded accusations I have ever seen spewed.

And the underlining argument: Bush should be impeached. This alone shreds any sense of credibility that his comment may have. No serious student of politics can honestly believe this. Political disagreement is not a platform from which to levy an impeachment.

Use your head next time...

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous CliffX said...

I'm posting this eight months later, but after hearing this song on those horrible Silverado commercials that exploit our nation's history, only one thing remains true:

You people are all idiots.

 
At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mellencamp is putting out his usual line - this is nothing more than thinly veiled socialism. The fact that it is being used in a car commercial is amusing, though.
Let's see how well "understanding the world" plays after we lose a city or two to nuclear or bio terrorist attacks.

 
At 8:13 PM, Anonymous BeToughAmerica said...

Makes me want to puke. Watching a football game and every other commercial is this anti-Bush propoganda song. All you liberal weenies will get us all killed eventually. God forbid (oops - can I still say that in this country?) we have a strong leader. You're a bunch of wine sippin wussies that don't get the big picture. Don't get why we're in Iraq, huh? Don't think it has to do with 9/11? Of course it does. Think, idiots! Unless we want more days like that - actually days that are hundreds time worse (think nuclear libwuss) then we need to eliminate anyone that's not with us. Typical libpuss response to that is "why Iraq"? Lot's of reasons. One of them being "let's start somewhere". If you don't get how much of a threat Iran is you're a moron. So wouldn't you rather be in control of the countries that surround it when it comes time to take action? Oh - now that makes sense! Maybe this Bush guy has a little strategy in mind after all? (Iraq on one side, Afghanistan on the other . . . hmmm . . .) Where did you ever get the idea that you were so important that you assumed the government was on the hook to tell you their strategy on everything? Wouldn't that give the enemy an edge? Dumbasses! Get a clue, grow a pair and think about the principles this country was founded on. That is unless you have no respect for those that spilled their blood so that you could have the luxury of sitting on your ass and reading this at your convenience. Think about it.

So, again, next time this BS song get's shoved down my throat, here's hoping I can throw it back up. Wake up - we better come together or the 1 billion extremists that would like to see us blown to hell will get their way. Meanwhile you sit there and whine about a President (with a capital P) that has YOUR best interest in mind - but your ultra liberal BS gets in the way. George Carlin said it best. It's the pussification of America.

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

Let it be pointed out here that conservatives among these commenters are saying that a song that opposes bigotry and poverty makes them puke. That sounds about right.

 
At 5:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you be a "working class hero" and charge $125 for the cheap seats at your shows?

Mellencamp is now in the same class of political importance as Bob Seger.

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone not see how patriotic it is to by a big ass Chevy truck and move it on down the lahn (line)?

My reflexes have been sharpened by how quickly I hit the mute button upon hearing the first note of this piece of drivel.

 
At 1:59 PM, Anonymous paul goodman said...

I'LL TELL YOU WERE MELLENCAMP GOT HIS IDEA FOR THE SONG,"our country
I"M A BMI SONG WRITER FROM NASHVILLE, WENT TO MELLENCAMP STUDIO IN BLOOMINGTON AND LEFT HIM A COPY OM MY SONG CALLED,"city rock" THE SONG IS ABOUT 911 NYC AND THIS GREAT NATION. LYRICS-[ this is my country it's my home this is the best place you'll ever know..

 
At 8:07 PM, Blogger Catherine said...

"I guess an alternative is that Republicans can continue to turn a blind eye on "illegal immigrants" to swamp the country's labor markets so their greed-obsessed financial backers can continue to deny the whole concept of a "living wage."

Yup, Darn that silly, drunken, murderer of Mary Jo Kopechne, Ted Kennedy for leading the campaign to legalize 12 million "illegals".

 
At 6:14 PM, Blogger John Cocktoastan said...

Dude have you seen the commercials this song is used in? It looks like total Bush propaganda. "This country it belongs to folks like me and you" is put to photos of white people and the ad obviously appeals to hicks.

"This is our country" indeed.

 
At 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're so high minded and much smarter than anyone else... I wish I could be as smart as a Liberal/Communist like you.

Imagine there's no country???? Wow, that is really high minded stuff... Tibet is a safe place to live, no armies there. You'll get raped and pillaged, but you guys will figure out how to negotiate your way out of it...

 
At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John C. M. Knows the American dream is gone for most people, and that is what he writes and sings about. His songs hits home, for me and lots of other people that had their dreams detroyed.(by the Bush administration) He was smart enough to go after his dream, was you?
He may have dropped out of school but I bet he accomplished more in his life than you ever will.

 

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