May 23rd, 2006
Unlike my other interests, my musical tastes are narrow. Embarrassingly so. I listen to classical — more specifically, chamber music and lieder. Citizens of Chad know more about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones than I do. Bluegrass — that’s banjoes, right? Punk, which is what my guitarist son plays, has seemingly hundreds of variants. I’ve heard them all and recognize none. So what’s with my obsession with Pink?
A couple weeks ago somebody sent me the YouTube clip of her song, “Dear Mr. President.” The video opens unpromisingly — for an adult. Over screaming girls, a pretty but expressionless young blond woman states, “One of the most important songs I’ve ever written…” Yikes. This means she’s already written other important songs and I’m still in the dark. The camera pulls back. Pink is seated, legs spread like a cellist, amid backup singers and an acoustic guitarist.
The YouTube display said the song was 4:59. Most car alarms play longer than that, so I settled down and put my doubts aside. Pretty soon I was enjoying what seemed a workmanlike standard-issue protest song. In the 60s, the heyday of the form, I had no interest in folk-rockers, or their message, but Pink… damn, her lyrics were imaginative. Four minutes into the song, she’s riffing on “hard work”. I am completely with her because she’s got our weasely, brush-clearin’, swaggerin’ fake by the short-and-curlies. And I don’t care if I am swaying and head-nodding like the fifteen-year old girls they keep cutting to, I’m enjoying myself — thrilled, in fact, that somebody can reach greater multitudes than Steven Colbert.
In two years and seven months, America lays this squinting nitwit to rest. I can’t think of better funeral music.