Tom Lehrer once joked that during the Spanish Civil War, the Fascists "may have won all the battles, but we had all the good songs." Phil Ochs laughed over that one until he hung himself.
The world is riddled with of maggots. The maggots are getting fat.
They're making a tasty meal of all the bosses and bureaucrats.
They're taking over the boardrooms and they're fat and full of pride
And they all came out of the woodwork on the day the Nazi died.
So if you meet with these historians, I'll tell you what to say:
Tell them that the Nazis never really went away
They're out there burning houses down and peddling racist lies.
from "The Day the Nazi Died"
Politically oriented pop lyrics like Chumbawamba's are red meat for the "clear-eyed, slightly
cynical detachment" prized by the creeps who write for rags like my hometown Washington Post. May
their arteries clog. And if you're not looking for any more outraged anti-capitalist human decency
in your life either, you certainly won't enjoy a verse like this
You think you're God's gift? You're a liar.
I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.
Can't eat 'cause your mouth's full of shit?
Do something about it!
which was originally dedicated to England's "New Labor" prime minister, Tony Blair, but was
extended to Bill Clinton at the band's show in DC last month. Kids twelve years old were singing
along word for word, but if you don't already think that Clinton's every bit the liar Reagan and
Bush were, or that the Nazis never really went away, a British pop band's printed lyrics shouldn't
convince you. So try this instead: let whatever's catchy in these songs give you a startbut then
see how the lyrics taste in your own mouth. Sing along if the spirit moves you, but don't let the
chased-after ignorance that the mainstream media tries to pass for popular opinion force yours:
describing "Tubthumping" as a drinking song probably just shows the usual Stateside indifference
toward English social thought and solidarity, but whatever the frat boys are slurring about on
college quads, the refrain "I get knocked down. I get up again. You're never going to keep me down"
is not about the struggle to avoid sexual harassment charges. It's about workers' struggles, and if
you don't believe that class warfare is happening all around you right now, then you really need to
hear Noam Chomsky's typically brilliant talk "Capital Rules"--which is conveniently bonus-packaged
with Showbusiness! If this leads you in turn to the archive of Chomsky talks on the Web at:
www.worldmedia.com/archive, don't fail to get your sense of humor back afterwards by reading some
hilarious attacks on Chumbawamba by the ideological police of the British music press collected at:
www.chumba.com/_truth_g.htm. A band this comfortable with its critics may have some anarchist
insight to pass on after all.