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have you forgotten: sap that sells

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I had an interesting juxtaposition of musical moments on the way home from work yesterday.

On WABC, Sean Hannity was interviewing Daryl Worley, composer of the now-playing-everywhere hit Have You Forgotten.

I switched off the show. I just do not like that song, which I will get to in a minute.

On K-Rock, the afternoon DJs, Cabby and Cane, were introducing the latest Beastie Boys single, In a World Gone Mad, an anti-war anti-bush, anti-whatever the world is against these days song. Yea, I didn’t like that song either.

I have this thing against songs that mention real or imagined tragedies, or engage in overwrought attempts to pull people together. Hell, I can’t even listen to The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald or 1941 New York Mining Disaster without my skin breaking out in hives. Even Space Oddity leaves me reaching for the anti-itch ointment.

After the Oklahoma City bombing, radio stations across the country reached new heights in manufactured sappiness when someone mixed Live’s Lightning Crashes with soundbites from the news reports of the event. I could not for the life of me understand why people wanted to listen to that. Over and over and over, day in and day out for weeks at a time, until the news waned and America moved on to other news, the song played on every single radio station across the land.

And then came September 11, 2001 and for the days after, U2’s Stuck in a Moment became the anthem and while some radio stations attempted to throw sound bites over the music, I didn’t stick around long enough to listen. Tragedies and disasters stand the test of time on their own. They don’t need soundtracks to remind us of the pain or the devastation.

So now we have Daryl Worley – whose personal photographer must have a degree in Fashion Photography – singing about September 11. The song falls into my special category reserved for songs like Christmas Shoes (What if momma meets Jesus tonight?); I call them flesh-eating songs. See the skin-crawling thing above.

Have you forgotten how it felt that day
to see your homeland under fire
and her people blown away
have you forgotten when those towers fell
we had neighbors still inside
going through a living hell
and you say we shouldn’t worry about bin laden
have you forgotten

Instead of bringing me to my knees in prayer or making me want to run out and hold my neighbor’s hand as we get ready to fight the good fight, the lyrics make me want to crawl under a rock.

In the same way I cringe whenever a musical artist uses his own name in a song, the use of the name bin Laden – rhymed with forgotten – makes me almost want to break out in a fit of giggles.

Yes, I know the song is supposed to be heavily serious. And as much as bin Laden makes me giggle, the use of the imagery of 9/11 is what really makes my skin crawl.

On the other side, we have the Beastie Boys.

Now don’t get us wrong ‘cause we love America
But that’s no reason to get hysterica
They’re layin’ on the syrup thick
We ain’t waffles we ain’t havin’ it

No wonder they haven’t recorded anything in five years. They forgot how to write.

It doesn’t take them long to come up with the phrase that pays:

Now how many people must get killed?
For oil families pockets to get filled?
How many oil families get killed?
Not a damn one so what’s the deal?

Is this the best the anti-war side has to offer? Country Joe must be turning over in his grave. If he’s dead, I mean.

I am an equal opporunity “theme of the moment” song hater. Left, right, whichever way the song is leaning, I’m probably not going to listen to it.

And I’m not going to listen if you conjure up images of something tragic (how soon before we get a Great White Fire ballad?), talk about children pining away for dead parents, tack on an “if we are all just nice to each other the heavens will open and bunnies will rain down from the sky” moral to the lyrics, or throw quotes from Wolf Blitzer over some lyrics that are meant to make you cry as if you just watched Julia Roberts die in Steel Magnolias.

Give me that old time rock.

Motorin…….

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About Michele Catalano

  • Eric Olsen

    Right flipping-on Michele – I think it’s the obviousness of this stuff that bugs me. Super poweful emotions require oblique reference, require either a very micro view of a very macro view – this obvious mid-range viewing offers no insight or any fresh perspective.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    eric, isn’t this just another sign of our society’s need to be flogged over the head with stuff?

    it just seems like subtlety is lost on folks these days.

  • Eric Olsen

    Mark, I don’t know if it comes from the marketing end, or if the artists feel the need to indentify with, or comment upon, landmark events, but something as slight as a pop song is very rarely up to the task.

  • Mark 2wain

    Coming from a military family, and having “seen the elephant” to protect your first Amendment rights to stupid opinions, I find the tone of the website to be extremely naive and jeuvenile. The world is not going to suddenly make a right turn, and all vehicles and industry suddenly run on air, light and water. No: it’s not about oil. Sure, wind is more desirable than gas. I like clean air, as much as the next man. But this naive, childish petulance is so out of touch with reality that it sounds like you are describing OZ, and not the world as it is. I suggest you become more informed about current events, and read your American history. Good people have bled and died for your rights to be stupid.

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Will

    i think the song is great and i dont know why people are talking about differnt issues besides the song. it has alot of meaning and we should be going to war to protect our country. if the united states sits around like president clition did then we will have another 9/11. now would you all like that??

  • Alicia S

    I have met Darryl Worley. He is a very spiritual man. I think this song is very truthful, a lot of people have forgotten.

  • Alicia S

    I have met Darryl Worley. He is a very spiritual man. I think this song is very truthful, a lot of people have forgotten.

  • Alicia S

    I have met Darryl Worley. He is a very spiritual man. I think this song is very truthful, a lot of people have forgotten.

  • Brent T

    Stupid high-brow intellectuals who can’t actually reason their way out of a paper bag and look down their upturned noses at someone like Daryl Worley for speaking out for our nation and our troops ought to be either re-educated by people with a trace of wisdom, or have their lips permanently stitched together so that we don’t have to listen to their mindless self-inflated drivel.

  • jack Cain

    All of us High-brow intellectuals will not neccesarily look down on Dale Worley. It’s great poetry, it’s terrific music. All of it. And just in time. The review above praising the Beastie Boys is sick and perverted.

  • jack Cain

    All of us High-brow intellectuals will not neccesarily look down on Dale Worley. It’s great poetry, it’s terrific music. All of it. And just in time. The review above praising the Beastie Boys is sick and perverted.

  • jack Cain

    All of us High-brow intellectuals will not neccesarily look down on Dale Worley. It’s great poetry, it’s terrific music. All of it. And just in time. The review above praising the Beastie Boys is sick and perverted.

  • jack Cain

    All of us High-brow intellectuals will not neccesarily look down on Dale Worley. It’s great poetry, it’s terrific music. All of it. And just in time. The review above praising the Beastie Boys is sick and perverted.

  • jack

    Hey, retards, Michele didn’t praise the Beastie Boys….

    “No wonder they haven’t recorded anything in five years. They forgot how to write.”

    Does that sound like praise to you?

    Just because someone finds a song insipid, that does not put them in either the terrorists or the anti-war camp.

    It is best to read everything before commenting

    BTW, I, too, find all the country-song odes to New York to be a bit…insipid. Country songs are generally not sung about New York, and this sudden outpouring of Manhattan bluegrass is a little icky.

  • duane

    I prefer to just look down my nose at supposedly creative artists who, in the guise of patriotism/sympathy, presume to try to exploit the emotions and sensibilities of the music-listening public to enhance their own popularity with one demographic group or another. It’s just business. It’s similar to the airy tinkly piano music that gets played in the background of soft-focus TV commercials about diseases and death and insurance for retired people. You know the type. The “creators” of this tripe are trying to grab us at an emotional level in order to sell something to us. Business.

  • Nick Jones

    It’s the combination of pugnacity and schmaltz that have always sickened me about “Have You Forgotten?” No, Mr. Worley (son of JoAnne?), some of us left-wing intellectual types haven’t forgotten bin Laden, but a certain “Commander” in Chief seems to have done so.

  • Trace

    Country has never been capable of writing decent odes to tragedy and never will, as far as I’m concerned. As for using tragic events as the basis for a song, it is perfectly fine, so long as people can relate to it, and as long as it does not ring false. There is no song about 9\11 that I KnOW Of that fits any of those categories. Using the name of terrorists will instantly date the song, which is why those songs you heard in 2001 on the top of the charts aren’t even considered today.

  • JT

    As a connoisseur of satire, I have nothing but praise for Worley’s anthem; no songs have exhibited such subtle self-parody– intentional or not– as “Have You Forgotten”. Even those songs that Stone/Parker wrote for “Team America: World Police” can even come close. My personal favorite line: “It’ll just breed anger, that’s what the experts say”…Man, I HATE those Ivy-League, big-shot “experts”! The military snare drum under the bridge is also priceless, and of course rhyming “bin Laden” with “forgotten” is another over-the-top moment of frantic jingoism. The song is such a perfect-yet-blatant example of propaganda that I’ve long suspected that it was written by a secret department at Haliburton. I’m sure this song has found its way onto every “Drinkin’ at the Gravel Pits ’03” mix-tape of every 17-year old in South Carolina (it’s perfect for imagining the face of bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or John Kerry on that firing range target). As for me, it maintains steady rotation on my MP3 player.

  • DrDeb

    I just got home from the store where the local country station was blasting this ridiculous song and forcing all to listen. Please burn every copy of this thing and never let it see the light of day again. For God’s sake, it’s 2006, we know the whole war was a farce, a diversion from the actual problem, that it has caused a huge amount in lives lost and money, that it was not about “freedom” or “protecting our land” but about oil, that it was dreamed up by Bush and the neocons long before 9/11 and that there was no link whatsoever between the two. Any station that plays this outrageous piece of propaganda should be boycotted.

  • SFC SKI

    I guess she has forgotten.

    It is interesting that only country musicians have really written from the perspective of those fighting it, at least for commercial airplay. I heard a song called “letters from Home”, which is kind of sappy, topo, but it does offer a glimpse of the comaraderie somefind during wartime.

    Several rap albums have been proded and released by people serving in Iraq. 4/25’s “Live From Iraq” is pretty good.

  • Guy Incognito

    The Forgotten song is a real toe tapper!!! Makes me wanna dance. And that’s a problem. 9/11 shouldn’t make you want to dance and sing. This song makes a mockery of those who died. “… that day… blown away…”. Holy crap dude. Have some damn respect.