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.