Seasonal Reflections

2020.

Pandemic

Elections.

Wars.

In the wake of the year’s news, which is uniquely still current Christmas Songs can be more of a minefield than usual. I mean, be fair if you can get out and have the money to conduct a ‘Christmas Shop’ of one sort or another are you truly convinced in 2020 ‘It’s That Most Wonderful Time of The Year’?

Back in the turn of the millennium I was still a UK Civil Servant working in a section of the Benefits System called ‘The Job Centre’. It was essentially a place where unemployed went to seek work and claim their Unemployment Benefit. Some klutzs, it’s the only way to describe the decision makers far removed from the realities of looking for work thought it would be a splendid idea to have music playing. Pop music happy, bouncy, pop music. In a place where the majority of callers are unhappy, stripped of dignity and worried about money trying to navigate a system that even the staff didn’t fully understand??? (Explicit words). Now if that was not bad enough the same bunch of socially comfortable and well paid folk decided there would be a Christmas series to play over December…..and amongst all the Yo-ho-hos, Santas, Log Fires, Driving Home (will you keep you fffff-lipping eyes on the road man!) what did we get?????? ‘Simply Having a Wunnderfful Christmas!’ (Even more bad words) being played in a Job Centre!!….Give me strength!…The number of times I wanted to hunt down the machine in our office playing that and tear the tape out (yep tape) for the sake of the public.

Anyway, that out of my system, you get the general idea. In my opinion Christmas Songs of all sorts should only be played at locations where those who agree they want them can listen and enjoy, or be thoughtful.

So before everyone decides ‘Hullo, this guy has a major ‘Huff’ about Christmas and is doing a fayre impression of The Grinch, or Scrooge pre-dreams’ I’ll move onto the ‘thoughtful’ part.

Below is a carol ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ sung in a traditional way, with lyrics displayed. I chose this because……wait, let me carry on after you’ve heard it

Hope it reached you at some level, because although Christian (Catholic- not that it matters except personally) I feel there is a universality about this one. Let me explain to all folk of whatever belief system (or none) of whatever circumstances, situations and outlooks.

Firstly the tune and the words are in truth sombre and restrained, there is no jolliness here, no urge for you to get up and dance about the place. This is an anthem if you like of a promise (dangerous word I know) of better times. Yes you can focus in on the narrow interpretation of the return of Jesus Christ and the Christian perspective of hope written therein and the joy that hope brings.

Or

Return to the concept of the universality, and consider this song from there.

Firstly although a hopeful offering being sombre and reflective you could not say it is a ‘Jolly’ song, it does not call upon you to exude a happiness you might not really feel like exuding. It is simply, and here’s the word again HOPE.

Secondly the tune and the words are reflective, asking the listener to consider to be grateful for that HOPE.

Thus I ask you to consider joining with me, no matter what your faith or no faith might be, Adapt this message to your own perspectives, even write your own words if you want I wouldn’t be offended (as long as you didn’t assail my beliefs with parodies; don’t do that it’s not nice and you wouldn’t like my sardonic dismissive reply). Turn this around if you will to your own message of HOPE.

And I ask you to consider to be grateful that we have access to computers and we have the time to consider such matters and we are not out somewhere in some wreck of a country, scrabbling for survival and quite forgotten by most of the world. And think in the new year what you might be able to do, even in the smallest way to help someone somewhere.

Rejoice then in sombre and reflective ways.

And HOPE, never give up on HOPE

To You and those close to you I wish you a peaceful, calmly uneventful, contented (for the moment) time; you might not have it now, you might not want it now, you might wish for it later. Whenever, wherever I wish it to you.

(My apologies to fellow Catholics who may not agree with my Relativism. You know how it goes Four Catholics, Five Different Ways of Worship and Belief) .

A Song as a Political Measuring Stick

Shearwater are an ‘indie’ band of the USA, originating in Austin Texas, and basically revolving around songwriter and vocalist Johnathan Meiburg, someone with a haunting and expressive voice, weaving evocative images on a myriad of subjects.

Shearwater

I have been a fan of their music since 2011 when I chanced upon their fourth album The Golden Archipelago

GOLDEN

Within Meiburg’s writings are expressed elements of concern about the environment, social injustice and politics and you can therefore guess a Shearwater album is not required listening amongst the followers of the current occupant of the Whitehouse.

Back in 2016 (pre-election days) was released Jet Plane and Oxbow Meiburg said he wanted to try and make a protest album which was not ‘dumb or preachy’… the latter wish being a difficult task since by its nature a protest song tends to the preachy anyway.

Preamble and Foreword

When I heard this first, we were still in the second tenure of President Obama and hoping that the Democrats could ‘swing it’ once more. By then I had grown into a role of defending the USA as not the Great Satan and cause of all the world’s ill, of course hands were not clean, of course the Iraq invasion had been a fearful blunder and any military intervention in Afghanistan is always a questionable move. My defence (British  spelling) of the USA was that to assail the USA for every mis-deed was to ignore what Russia and China, to name but two were up to. Indeed in those days it was almost an article of faith of the British Left that it could never be ‘Russia’ it had to be the ‘USA’ and let’s pretend Assad of Syria was only defending himself against The West (The Useful Idiot syndrome as beloved by all dictators- but I digress).

Anyway back to the album:

Arguably one of the most striking songs is ‘Quiet Americans’, a lament against American policies and public acquiescence in general. Whether Meiburg took Graham Greene’s The Quiet American  QuietAmerican

As a source for the title I cannot personally say.

I greeted the song with mixed feelings, but to give you a fair idea of what I am on about here is the very striking video and the lyrics.

Lyrics:

I can’t help it, if all the world is ending
All the life is gone while you’re calling up this name
Where are the Americans?

Your dim cultures, your hands and eyes that wander
Stumbling down the road
Or collapsing on parade

We’re lying alone in the Eastern land
Slipping in the morning hours, the only sound
From the lantern covered hills, the only light
From the day yet to begin, the only sign
Of the guns and silhouettes
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

Done with silence, we’re disconnecting lives
Pull out the lightning dust
At the mention of his name
Wither the Americans!

Take the memories out, hide the evidence under
Piss on the world below
Like a dog, that knows its name
Where are the Americans?

I’m calling on the run tonight
Feeling the remaining hours, the only sound
Are the bells upon the hill, the only light
Are the lanterns in the wind, the only sight
Screams the rust off the rails
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

The only light is the day yet to begin
The only sight are the lives in silhouette
The only sound is the rushing of the wind
The only light is not the only life

Only, only!

(Footnote: You may interpret the images as you see fit, many folk read many messages)

Commentary

So in that glow of the Obama presidency, the mockery of the Ridiculous Right and the hope that we were still progress, a light which shone and illuminated the intolerance and oppression within the other Big Powers Russia and China I was thinking ‘Nice song Johnathan I do like it, but give your nation a break. It’s not that bad,’

It is dreadfully embarrassing when even after 60+ years on this planet and 50 of them spent following politics and reading histories you can still be found to be naïve and dreaming.

Here we are in 2020. And the rational amongst us, with any sense of the necessity of a nation united if it is to survive hoping, even praying that even someone as not very charismatic or of visibly towing intellect such as Joe Biden can bring down that colossus of ignorance, vanity and ineptitude, the one who sits in the Whitehouse due to a freak of the USA’s voting system, Trump.

Trump himself is an individual of small character and even less ability. Put him in a room, alone, with no audience and just one person of average determination and intelligence and after a short while Trump would storm out with all the dignity of a four year old having the TV switched off or video game taken away. You see Trump is not the issue. It is the bloc of voters who have created a creature of their own imagination and wish fulfillment who loathe the opposite of their views so much, who were so angered by ‘One of Those People’ being in the Whitehouse that they would choose a most obnoxious and inflammatory creature to be their voice simply to get back at the opposition. And that is all he is, The Mouthpiece.

Thus when I look back at the lyrics of Quiet Americans and bear in mind there is still a vast swell of folk who are willing to tolerate this ridiculous state of affairs either by tacit support or self-isolation from the virus of ignorance and bigotry I have to say in all contrition:

Mr. Meiburg. I apologise. In my vanity I forgot, it is you  who are living in the USA, not I. Your comments are thus quite understandable. In fact in post-Brexit and the wake of the UK’s 2019 General Election it is possible to import your song and transpose ‘Britain’ for ‘American’…..Though I am still working on which word to replace ‘Quiet’ with.”  

 

The Song Had It Comin’

OK, this may have gone done ok in the smooth earlier 1960s and a little before….but these days…seriously “Wives And Lovers”

I mean, think on the lyrics

Anyway, in 2nd decade of the 21st century the song just begs new images

Hey, little girl, comb your hair, fix your make-up,Wives and Lovers makeup
soon he will open the door,
Wives and lover husband coming home
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger, you needn’t try any more.
Wives and lovers exaspirated wife
For wives should always be lovers too,
Wives and lovers sleeping man
Wives and lovers exasperated-11451246
Run to his arms the moment that he comes home to you.Wives and lovers running to him 2
I’m warning you,
Wives and lovers stupid
Day after day, there are girls at the officeWives and lovers gangster girls at office
and the men will always be men,
Wives and lovers gormless men
Don’t stand him up, with your hair still in curlers,
Wives and lovers curlers
you may not see him again.
Wives and lovers happy woman
Wives should always be lovers too,
Wives and lovers housework
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.
Wives and lovers running to him
He’s almost here, hey, little girl, better wear something pretty,
Wives and lovers woman clothed
Something you wear to go to the city,
Wives and lovers clothes for the city
Dim all the lights, pour the wine,
Wives and lovers drinking
start the music,
wives and lovers music
time to get ready for love.
Tricycle 1
Time to get ready for love,
Wives and lovers-women-bored-in-bed
yes it’s time to get ready for love,
Sarcastic gif
It’s time to get ready, kick your shoes off, baby….,
Wives and lovers kick your shoes off