As one of the founders of ShaNaNa, I offer this about my parody of the oldie "Bread and Butter" adapted as "marshall music" for today's tea party troops.
“Y’all fired up? Ready ta go? …Fired up?”
Call and response does energize a crowd. Obama wasn’t the first to deploy it, only the first to deploy it with such momentous success. In the unknown future of our constitutional republic, call n’ response is as here to stay as rock n’ roll. Crowds still matter, even in the cyberspace age. Acting together physically is still how the homo sapiens do it, and any ruling class of the species still takes heed.
The method of call and response and of group chanting or singing may be powerful, even dignified, as in “We Shall Overcome.” Or may be lame, even embarrassing, as in “Whadya want?”… “When d’ya want it?” and the like. People participating in call and response or in sing-along reveal things about their character: Faith? Anxiousness? Selfishness? Opportunism?
What did you experience in the character of the last throng you got next to? Mine would have sneered back at Obama’s call “Fired Up?” with the response “Hell, yeah!!” And yet there was gloom. Not always competing well against the gloom were joy, faith, or any of the quite rational exuberance or lightness of being with a just cause.
C’mon! The issues may be solemn, but that’s not what we’re entitled to be. For your consideration, for your next throng—a little lightness for your jumbo-tron!
This was supposed to speak for itself. I told any who learned of it that they were to keep my secret, please; it’s “the teaching, not the teacher” and all that; and in times like these, any known individuals identified with it would make it possibly the less universal and certainly the less valuable. All were agreed until breakdowns within my contracted one-man cartoon shop kept delaying the “May 28th” release date until last Friday’s humble YouTube debut. Cost over-runs, uncontrollable delays, mega-budget or shoestring—“That’s showbiz,” I guess.
No time for “word of mouth” now, they’re telling me. Be done with anonymity and take a less dignified route, lest this thing go un-noticed! (*sigh*)
The “Fired Up Fifer” in the cartoon is a little crazed, definitely a little disturbed out of his premises, just as we are. Our sing-alongs ought to reveal our joy that, out on the streets and malls, we’ve found one another—willing. The song is one you’ve known before, in a manner of speaking. So, all together now, on the chorus:
They promised guns and butter. They promised endless fun
Expand that social contract -- Provide for everyone
Which brings me to the chore of unmasking myself… and the bewildering discovery that certain of my dearest friends took one look at this cartoon and got in my face (a very approachable doofus, I) dismayed that I've gone over to the dark side! I'm generally a lover of political arguments, so with luck they keep 'em coming... especially if it keeps our friendships alive. And, I’m obliged to tell them why I oppose government providing for everyone!
“Don’t suffer fools,” you say? (A different friend told me he no longer cared to keep his own leftie friends...) Well—whoa, a short minute—where do we cross the line? Where do we cross from the duty to be involved in how to “keep our women and children” best… and over to the entitlement not to be disturbed?
I find it effeminate (in the worst sense of the word, if you’ll pardon my choice of it) if a buddy tells me “we can’t be friends if” I really do favor the wrong public leader or policy alternative. Dude! Deciding about policy alternatives is our job. If I haven’t persuaded you at the end of the day, what’s our alternative? Are we ready to go for our muskets? No, today’s alternative is tomorrow. The consent of the governed is a description, not just an ideal. Short of gunfire, nothing instituted cannot be disinvested, otherwise terminated… or nullified by civil disobedience or sheer disregard, for that matter. The order of our world is always fragile; better for us if our friendships are not.
Yet, even our delicate old friends sometimes must be confronted: Identifying what’s in the hearts of “those people,” so surely that you can dismiss the arguments on their lips, displays overconfidence in your own refinement, not to mention your own intuition!
The refined Mr. Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Brahmin who spake of a crisis never being allowed to go to waste, reminded us free range folk that for us it’s the teachable moment that must never be allowed go to waste. In this teachable pre-dawn darkness (already feeling something more like a long night in our national life) with Marxian intellectual hangovers on full display, we can still challenge his side to an historic argument instead of allowing an historic spasm or brawl.
Let’s line up ours and have them line up theirs. Time to do the work. Read a lot. Compare the historical arguments and counter-arguments. Is it James Madison over Karl Marx, or visa versa? John Maynard Keynes, or Milton Friedman? Liberty above equality, or equality above liberty? Bring it on.
The historical truths are on our side. So, like the cartoon citizens alongside Fired Up Fifer, we ought to dance! And maybe, like them (Was my one-man cartoon shop a leftie who couldn’t resist the chance to ridicule?) we ought to smile more!
It really is okay to be enjoying all this.
I admit to feeling weird about pumping this song parody before people even hear it. That’s not the way it was supposed to be, in any of my lifelong dreams of ever having a hit record. “Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years,” quoth the rap now-oldie! Pat Boone, who’s been here for years longer, performs in the soundtrack, along with me (of ShaNaNa, the rest of whom ain’t all gonna be “down with” this) and Jordan Cole, of the 1960s mega-hit makers The Association.
With apologies to vast numbers of my un-reconstructed fellow sojourners of Woodstock Nation, I’m out of the closet and into the fired up. “Ready to go” indeed. Hasn’t it ever dawned on you that our “peace” and Yasgur’s Farm demonstration of the viability of socialism were dependent on a life-support umbilical cord from the Nixon era capitalist grown-ups?
Didn’t you ever come to notice how the robust creation of wealth must be assured before any conversation about its redistribution can even be useful?
To those of my Woodstock cohort who are now aghast at the “tea party” (which more assuredly has “changed the world” than it’s said our misadventure at Yasgur’s farm did) I return that stunned glare, then the sputter: “But… I thought you were smart. I thought you were a nice person!” Being a nice person aligns with being in the fight for the nicest societal arrangement, among all of human history’s rarest gems: Limited government.
Like, dig it, man. Some of today’s teapartyers are grown up flower children. Imagine there’s no statism. It’s easy if you try. They may say you’re a dreamer. But you’re not the only one.
October 19, 2010