The More Things Change

March 25, 2008

Oh to have been in England, while Neil Young was there. Because the big news among Rusties is that not only were the concerts pretty wonderful, they were also chock-full of seldom-played or previously unplayed songs beloved to the cultists.

Songs like, for instance, “Ambulance Blues” from On the Beach, aimed at Richard Nixon and released during the Watergate summer of 1974. Leave it to a Canadian to write the political epitaph for an American president:

I never knew a man/ Who could tell so many lies/ He had a different story/ For every set of eyes./ How can he remember/ Who he’s talking to?/ ‘Cause I know it isn’t me/ And I hope it isn’t you.

Over three decades later, and “Ambulance Blues” is every bit as applicable to the current White House occupant as it was to Nixon. Plus ca change.

I guess I’ll call it sickness gone. Neil was referring to his own recovery from a string of personal traumas — drug deaths among his friends, a painful breakup — but the resignation of Nixon that summer did, as they say, give the line a certain resonance.

Draining off the toxins Bush has injected into the societal bloodstream won’t be such a quick matter, but it’s nice to think we can at least get a decent start on the job come November.

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