I've finally connected my computer up to my stereo, and all the music I've been digitizing over the years is now being played through the biggest speakers in my house. I'm hearing many tunes that I haven't heard in a while. The great thing about computers is that you can just tell them to play a bunch of songs in random order. They can even learn what songs you like, and play those more often if you like it that way.
The one that came up just now is this one:
Don't want to be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new mania
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mind fuck America.
Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Where everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
For that's enough to argue.
Green Day: American Idiot
Green Day's American Idiot was released in Fall, 2004. The first time I heard it was while I was on what was, by then, an interminable string of road trips for the company I was working for at the time. I was in Colorado Springs just before Thanksgiving. On a day off, I'd gone to one of the local music stores and bought the CD. I put the CD in my laptop computer, and when I heard these lyrics, all I could think was:
Yes, this is the America I'm living in.
This was a couple of weeks after John Kerry had lost his bid to replace George W. Bush as President. It was a time when you couldn't hear a single word on TV about how foolish the war in Iraq was, or how short-sighted nearly everything the Bush Administration had done to "fight terrorism" was. Anyone who criticized Bush or the "War On Terrorism" was an unpatriotic soft-headed pinko, according to the loud, thoughtless voices all around us, which seemed to be the only ones speaking. It was a time when I kept asking myself "Don't these people remember Vietnam and Communism?", and "Don't they know what freedom really means?"
There isn't a time in my life when I remember being more pessimistic about our future as a country than I was that year.
And then these kids, who were too young to remember Vietnam, probably too young to even remember how afraid we once were of Communism, and whom I'd only known as a group who wrote clever songs about teenage angst, showed that they got it. They understood, without having to live through the hysterias of our past, that we were in another full-blown hysteria then.
That realization restored what little optimism you who read this blog are seeing today.
For that I have to thank Green Day, and all the other young people who demonstrate that some of their elders really need to pay more attention to the world around them.