Discovering America w/Graham Parker

 

The Angry Young Man’s autobiographical song resonates post-election.

By Randy Harward

 

Graham Parker wasn’t thinking of Barack Obama when he wrote “I Discovered America” from his 2007 album Don’t Tell Columbus (Bloodshot Records), but the song sure suits how I felt last night when Obama won the presidency.

 

I was one of the politically apathetic guys energized by George W. Bush and the Republicans’ theft of the 2000 election and subsequent squandering of the post-9/11 international goodwill in the form of a war for oil. I bitched about Bush and evangelized about Kerry, then voted, and watched a majority of the country vote for another Bush term. Then came Katrina, and the Iraq War lingered. The country had gone batshit. 

 

But finally, the tide began to turn when the Dems kicked some booty in the 2006 election–and proceeded to accomplish nothing. Hope, as I knew it, was lost.

 

But last night, that was magical. If I sound like an erstwhile virgin in love, it’s because I am. The United States of America, having elected Barack Obama, appears to be back on her meds and looking forward to four years of badly needed change. Last night, I feel like I rediscovered America. Parker’s song—in which flat-earthers tell him to quit, but he still finds hope and fends off a “milquetoast rearguard” of Christian soldiers selling ice cream, and feels that the “might chains of darkness” have lifted—has been running through my head since 11 p.m. EST last night.

 

I have a feeling it’ll be on repeat for a while.

 

 

– Graham Parker

 

Lyrics:

THERE WAS SMOKE UP TO MY EYEBALLS

POISON BURNED MY THROAT

BUT I SAID I’D KEEP ON GOING

WHEN EVERYONE SAID DON’T

WITH MY BONY-CHESTED T-SHIRT

SOME STOLEN GUITAR LICKS

NAVIGATING BY DEAD RECKONING

IN 1976

AND WHEN THE MIGHTY CHAINS OF DARKNESS

HAD ME ON THE ROPES

EVERYONE SAID QUIT NOW

THAT’S WHEN I FOUND HOPE

 

 

SO PLEASE DON’T TELL COLUMBUS

DON’T TELL HIS QUEEN FOR SURE

THAT I HAD THE ACCURATE COMPASS

AND I DISCOVERED AMERICA

WELL THE GUY IN THE FIVE AND DIME STORE

SAID IT AIN’T ANYWHERE AROUND HERE

TAKE YOUR BUSINESS ELSEWHERE

ALONG WITH YOUR MAD IDEA

SO I LOOKED INSIDE YOUR CLOSET

AND YOUR BROKEN TV SET

YOU SAID THAT YOU WERE BORN HERE

BUT YOU HADN’T FOUND IT YET

 

 

 

WELL I KNEW ONE DAY SHE’D LET ME IN

I KNEW I’D GET THE GIRL

AND LIVE IN A TOWN CALLED VETERAN

PORK CAPITOL OF THE WORLD

 

 

WELL THEY’VE DAMMED THE YANGTSE RIVER DAMN IT

THERE’LL BE HELL TO PAY

BUT I GUESS THAT’S WHAT YOU DO

WHEN THE YANGTSE RIVER GETS IN YOUR WAY

BUT I HAD THAT POSITIVE FEELING

I KNEW I WAS ON THE RIGHT TRACK

WHEN A FLAT EARTH SOCIETY MEMBER

TOLD ME I MUST TURN BACK

HE SAID I’D REACH THE ABYSS

AND KEEP ON GOING DOWN

SO I GAVE HIM MY LAST PENCIL

AND I FLATTENED HIM TO THE GROUND

THEN AN ARMY OF CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS

BROKE THROUGH THE RANKS AND CHARGED

WITH THEIR ICE CREAM VENDOR BUDDIES

AND THEIR MILQUETOAST REARGUARD

THEY HAD WHEELBARROWS FULL OF ELASTIC

AND PAPER MACHE HEARTS

AND THINGS I DID NOT RECOGNIZE

IMPALED UPON THEIR DARTS

AND WHEN THE MIGHTY CHAINS OF DARKNESS

HAD ME ON THE ROPES

EVERYONE SAID QUIT NOW

THAT’S WHEN I FOUND HOPE

YEAH THAT’S WHEN I FOUND HOPE

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