In Tune With the Times

February 7, 2007

I realize that artists owe us nothing more (or less) than the best art they want to make, but it has been a tad disappointing that of all the musicians I admire the most, only Neil Young has risen to confront the Iraq War and tell us exactly what he thinks about the Bush administration.

I mean, Bob Dylan’s Modern Times is a very enjoyable, listenable CD, but it took a while to shake the feeling that His Bobness, having helped jump-start Leon Redbone’s career in the mid-1970s, had decided to go all the way and simply become Leon Redbone.  Catch me in the wrong mood, and I get an image of Dylan as Willard Scott on a geriatric cruise line, name-checking Muddy Waters and Memphis Minnie as he reminds the ballroom dancers to tip the help. I’m not saying everybody with a guitar and a recording contract has to help storm the barricades. I am saying, however, that I like it when they do.

So I like it that Richard Thompson has an anti-Iraq War song making the rounds of the Internet. And I especially like the fact that it’s one of his sharpest, most direct songs in many a year:

Out in the desert there’s a soldier lying dead
Vultures pecking the eyes out of his head
Another day that could have been me there instead
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here
‘Dad’s gonna kill me
‘Dad’s gonna kill me
You hit the booby trap and you’re in pieces
With every bullet your risk increases
Old Ali Baba, he’s a different species
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here
‘Dad’s gonna kill me
‘Dad’s gonna kill me

I got a wife, a kid, another on the way
I might get back home if I can live through today
Before I came out here I never used to pray
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here

‘Dad’s gonna kill me

‘Dad’s in a bad mood
‘Dad’s got the blues
It’s someone else’s mess that I didn’t choose
At least we’re winning on the Fox evening news
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here
‘Dad’s gonna kill me

Who’s that stranger walking in my dreams?
Who’s that stranger who’s cast a shadow ‘cross my heart?
Who’s that stranger do I dare speak his name?
Must be old death a’walkin’
Must be old death a’walkin’

‘Dad’s gonna kill me
‘Dad’s gonna kill me

A set of muzzle monkeys standing in a row
Standing waiting for that sandbox to blow
Sitting targets in the wild west show
Nobody loves me here
Nobody loves me here

As you’ve probably figured out by now, Dad is not the family patriarch, but an abbreviation for Baghdad.  The full CD won’t be out until the spring, but you can catch the MP3 of “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” at Thompson’s site.


  

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