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Monday, February 02, 2009

Only in America

I've been pondering all the analysis about the significance of the Obama Presidency. Some say it's the downpayment of the Dream, while others suggest it's the fulfillment of the Dream. I tend toward the former category. I worry that "ah, we have a black President - all of our racial issues are solved!" Also, I would hate for Obama 44 to be the fulfillment if it turns out that he - using a word my wife hates - SUCKED as President. I mean, he's done well out of the gate, but it's not even two weeks out of 208. Also, racial disparities still exist, the Colin Powells and Barack Obamas notwithstanding.

All of this reminded me of a treacly song called Only in America by Jay and the Americans. It was a seemingly innocuous love song by Leiber/Stoller/Weill/Mann.

Only in America
Can a guy from anywhere
Go to sleep a pauper and wake up a millionaire
Only in America
Land of opportunity, yeah
Would a classy girl like you fall for a poor boy like me

Only in America
Can a kid who's washin' cars
Take a giant step and reach right up and touch the stars

Only in America
Could a dream like this come true
Could a guy like me start with nothing and end up with you

But it was the second couplet that caused a bit of controversy:
Only in America
Can a kid without a cent
Get a break and maybe grow up to be President

As done by the Americans, this was fine. But this song was originally written with the black vocal group, the Drifters, in mind. I've read that either Atlantic Records wouldn't release it because it would be too controversial, or the group wouldn't because the lyrics had been watered down.

Regardless, maybe the kid without a cent CAN "get a break and maybe grow up to be President".


WayneJohn's post about time reminded me of another song, also somewhat appropriate in this context:
The Chambers Brothers - Time Has Come Today



Rebecca Hickman said...

Thanks for posting the original version of Time. It's even better than the Ramones' version.

Wayne said...

I love that song (time has come today), even though I wasn't even born when it was released. I can't seem to hear any audio though...perhaps due to where I am right now.

Thanks for the link love Roger!

Wayne said...

Ah, there's the music. It was me. :)

Everytime I hear 'Time has come today', it just screams 60's to me. Love it!

I need to get that song...