Autopsy IV note: A couple of nights back I posted a help wanted post on the site in an effort to find some additional (and consistent) contributors. For the time being I am gonna post their posts as guest posts for a little while as we nail down the site since the great spam hack of 2011 and as they prove who will be consistent and who’s gonna decide this bloggery isn’t for them.
This post comes from 9B contributor pledge Mike Ostrov. Lemme know what you guys think.
Politicians didn’t read the Patriot Act and it seems they hardly read song lyrics either. Tom Petty has asked Minnesota Congressperson and (as of yesterday, official) Republican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann to stop using “American Girl” as her campaign theme song (AIV Note: A request she seems to be ignoring). It’s easy to misunderstand “American Girl” because of it’s incredible guitars and catchy bass, and because it says the word “American” a whole lot, but it’s still a dark, ambiguous, song about a girl who contemplates jumping off her balcony into traffic. It’s a song about the debt of fulfillment and surplus regret that characterizes American youth. Living in Gainesville, I’ve seen herds of frat boys serenade their girlfriends with this song, but Bachmann’s usage is even more backward. However, it’s not as backwards as a scene in the movie Chasing Liberty where Mandy Moore, as the daughter of the President, gets dressed by way of dancing to this song. Or maybe that is how it should be used. I can’t tell anymore. At any rate, it’s an easy fix for Bachmann–just switch your song to Carrie Underwood’s “All-American Girl.” No potentially dangerous insight there.
But the moral is this: guitars, unlike politicians, are good at masking sinister creations. That’s why smart people become songwriters and not politicians. Hasn’t anybody learned from Ronald Reagan’s infamously thickheaded use of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” one of the most stark criticisms of American war mentality and cultural detachment ever committed to popular song?
Tom Petty rectified this situation in under a day, so he still rocks. Below is the demo of “Born in the USA” which takes a bit more of a straightforward angle.