Archive for the ‘lennon’ tag
Because I truly don’t seek to offend swaths of people in every post that I make — I know it’s hard to believe — I’m going to break from the God talk and the slavery question for a second to talk about the marvel that is Paul McCartney. Here is the video from his miniconcert on a recent edition of The Late Show with David Letterman:
At 67, McCartney doesn’t seem to have missed a step, not one. I mean, he’s not going to be running around the stage and climbing stage structures and stage diving like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder in his younger days — McCartney was never that kind of performer — but his virtuosity on numerous instruments, not to mention his continued vocal ability and the ease by which he sings the most demanding tunes, allows him to thump along on his hand-picked Hofner semi-acoustic bass on “Band on the Run” and then switch to a Les Paul six-string for the riff-driven “Let Me Roll It.” Did anyone catch his bit of brief shredding at about 12:35 minutes into the above video? The current crew of supporting band members seem to have a certain chemistry with McCartney and are adept musicians in their own right. Quite a cohesive bunch on stage.
I may have written briefly about this before, but when I was young, I had an incredible affinity for The Beatles’ music, so much so that I thought I was actually born in the wrong generation. My knowledge of the band began in first (or second) grade when I participated in a play about the ugly duckling, in which I was part of the group of singers that provided, apparently, the accompaniment to the on-stage action. I probably didn’t have a clue what I was doing since I was only 7, but regardless, some of the songs we sang included The Song of the Volga Boatman (Yo heave ho!), “She Loves You” by The Beatles, “Loch Lomond” and others. “She Loves You,” consequently, was actually sung to me, specifically, during one practice. Many in the play (apparently most of them) knew I had a crush on this girl named Lindy Douglas, which lasted well into fifth grade. So, when “She Loves You” kicked off during this particular practice and the part that goes “She loves you yeah, yeah, yeah!” came around, I actually remember many of them pointing directly at me. She, indeed, did not love me, but that’s neither here nor there.
As my love of The Beatles’ music continued, I remember singing along to their songs for hours at the time at my grandparents’ house (My grandfather had a PA system with mics and all. I would even making recordings of me singing along). At some point in middle school (I think), my friend Byron Jones recorded an instrumental rendition of “Yesterday” played on the keyboard with drum accompaniment, which I was quite impressed with at the time. Later, upon picking up the six string myself, I learned numerous Beatles songs and still crack open a songbook now and then. My top 10 favorite Beatles songs, in order, would be:
- In My Life
- A Day in the Life
- Helter Skelter
- You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
- Hard Day’s Night
- Hello Goodbye
- We Can Work It Out
- Strawberry Fields Forever
So, with that, here’s some more rock ‘n roll for your enjoyment and remembrance from a much younger Paul, John Lennon and the gang:
Media Matters recently posted a video clip titled, “Buchanan has ‘no problem’ with legacy systems, says ‘working class whites’ are ‘the ones discriminated most today,’” in which he supported Ivy League colleges which let kids in because of who’s child they were, not just on academic merit. Or, as Buchanan put it, their “clout.” He also said “white working class folks” (to correct the Media Matters headline) are “discriminated against most today” (to again correct Media Matters):
To put it bluntly, inserting race into the issue makes Buchanan’s claim, which cites no evidence, seem even more distasteful. How does he justify in one sentence, talking about how privileged college kids (the majority who earn bachelor’s or higher degrees are white) are and should be admitted to prestigious institutions based on clout and connections, provided they pass a test, and in the next sentence, talk about the rights of working class people (Using the word “folks,” as many politicians do, to sound more convivial and down to earth)? I would be curious to know how one defines “working class” in the first place. Blue collar? White and blue collar? Anyone who can hold down a job making less than Obama’s $250,000 benchmark?
Buchanan uses the “working class” line (like so many others interested in pushing a political mindset) to apparently lionize those of the laboring order (Buchanan is not, of course), when Buchanan, in nearly the same breath, appears to favor the notion of success by proxy. I’m reminded of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” which Buchanan would probably write off as some socialist anthem.
According to Lennon himself, the song is about the pressure to succeed, to go to college, to pick a career, and how maddening that pressure can be, when in the end, one’s efforts are often in vain (“But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see …”) unless, of course, one is willing to “learn how to smile as you kill | If you want to be like the folks on the hill …” But that’s, of course, a paraphrase and an estimation of what Lennon actually meant.
Side note: Here is an interesting analysis of Green Day’s own take on the song. The comments that follow are intriguing as well. But as the posters and repliers don’t seem to note, song lyrics aren’t essays or news articles. They don’t always have a specific and defined meaning. Take The Beatles’ lines, “He’s got feet down below his knees” or “He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football | He got monkey finger, he shoot coca-cola” or any number of lines from the White Album, great as it is. Stream of consciousness, daydreaming, drugs, personal stories or any number of factors can account for lyrics that don’t jibe or are hard to decipher.
But back to race, Slate offers an article on the seeming decline in Ivy-league schools, which notes the proliferation of solid programs at public institutions, like Northwestern, Stanford, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, and University of Virginia. Buchanan likely has affirmative action in mind when he made his comments about the white working class. True, blacks generally have a higher acceptance rates at colleges than whites, but college attendees, especially of the sort Buchanan mentions, are hardly “working class folks.” College is a privilege, not a right (though it should be), in this country. As such, most don’t earn college degrees:
According to new tables released on the Internet titled Educational Attainment in the United States: 2004, 85 percent of those age 25 or older reported they had completed at least high school and 28 percent had attained at least a bachelor’s degree — both record highs. — U.S. Census Bureau
What about the black working class? Affirmative action is used too often as a crux to explain away some white people’s anger. Note these two bits from Policy Almanac:
Over the past three decades, minorities and women have made real, undisputable economic progress. Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the median black male worker earned only about 60 percent as much as the median white male worker; (10) by 1993, the median black male earned 74 percent as much as the median white male.
There has not been an improvement in the employment-population rate of black workers relative to whites since the 1960s. If anything, there has been a deterioration in the relative employment-population rate.
James McPherson had a good article on his blog about President Barack Obama’s move to boost Mexican border security and to spend $700 million to assist Mexican officials in buying surveillance aircraft and equipment, noting:
Mexico is the third-leading provider of imported oil for the United States, but the leading provider of illegal drugs. Oil companies tend to be much more refined than drug cartels in their use of violence, and to have bigger U.S.-backed armies, so in Mexico it’s the drugs, not the oil, fueling the war.
In return, Americans provide the money and the guns to keep the war going–pretty much as we do in the rest of the world, though in this case it’s not through major corporations with the endorsement of the U.S. government. Of course at the government level we are still continuing a failed decades-long “war on drugs” policy instead of taking the simpler, cheaper route of drug legalization.
As I noted in a comment on his site, for some reason, I have an intense interest in the debate about illegal immigration. As I said on McPherson’s site, I don’t think these people are getting a fair shake, and here’s why.
If one traces history through the generations (at least in America), one finds instance upon instance of a new segment of population being introduced into the ”host” country, and then, out of fear or racism by the current inhabitants, the new group is mistreated, disenfranchised, enslaved, uprooted from their homes or sold as chattel, along with other numerous other dehumanizing actions. Then, perhaps after years or generations of struggle and oppression, on one fine, sunny day, the pervailing populous allows the oppressed to stand beside them as equals.
I’m a white guy, obviously, with mostly white family and friends, but for some reason, this is an issue about which I’m quite passionate. Perhaps it partly stems from my time living in a county highly populated by Hispanics, one in which there seems to be clear racial profiling going on among the backward-thinking law enforcement. If folks in America had any clue (and I admit I don’t) what it might be like to be a 5-year-old kid in Mexico to get one toy, just one, not $300 worth of toys, under the tree for Christmas or to grow up your entire life in abject poverty under a government that has proven to be impotent at sustaining its own people, they would speak a different tune. I obviously had no such experience as a child. Though raised of modest means, my level of privilege lapsed many kids living in Mexico many times over. Yet, the ability to emphathize, even among people who grew up with less than I did, seems to be lost on many Americans today.
The argument, and quite passionately, will surely come that these folks are draining the system or illegals that do make it to this country are taking jobs away from legal Americans. But of what consequence is this argument? Either the legal Americans aren’t applying for the same jobs, or they are less qualified. If the best people get the jobs, for we can only assume they do, (Why would employers want incompetent people working for them?) and the best person in some job vacancy happens to be of brown skin, so be it. This argument falls flat.
Crime is another argument that frequently comes from those who are fed up with the illegal immigration (or even legal immigration) problem. One, all people, no matter race, commit violent crimes. Illegals commit violent crimes and so do white and black folks. Here’s one link, and here’s another. Gleam from them what you will. I, personally, believe those who commit crimes don’t just belong to a particular race. To think otherwise would be racism. I need only to name Charles Manson, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Stalin and Robert Mugabe to give a smorgasbord of people who have, in their own way, wreaked havoc on humanity (and this is a very short list).
The fear of how immigrants might alter America as we know it is irrational and has been proven time and time again to be a moot point. From what I can tell, immigrants have altered this country for the better, for without them, in America there would ultimately be no Michael Jordan, no Michael Jackson, no Tiger Woods, no Frederick Douglas, no W.E.B. DuBois, no Jesse Jack, no Kobe Bryant, no Harriet Tubman, no Abraham Lincoln, no John Lennon, no Barack Obama. Thus, in the 21st century, where we have an international space station, where we can scope out many parts of the universe and spot galaxies light years away, where we can intelligently talk about gamma ray bursts and black holes and the beginning of life itself, racism has no place, and it must be crushed.
We have huge problems to tackle with regard to the national and world economy, and racism should have been dealt the death blow years ago, but by the will of ignorance and fear, it persists. If this doesn’t sadden you, something warm has hardened.