My Country II
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2004, Volume 11, #9
Written by John Metzger
Regime change begins at home. That’s the overriding theme behind Dan Bern’s latest effort My Country II as well as his upcoming Fall tour, but just in case there are any lingering doubts as to what his intentions are, he concludes his new eight-song endeavor with a mantra entitled Bush Must Be Defeated. Granted, he’s probably speaking to the already-converted — let’s face it, the bulk of his catalog is likely too offensive for the humorless, right-wing idealogues running America — but his objective has less to do with swaying anyone’s opinion than it does with getting like-minded folks to get off their asses and go to the polls so another election isn’t decided by the Supreme Court.
Of course, it’s an extraordinarily simple task to mock a President who utters absurdly misspoken statements — or are they the honest truth? — such as this nugget: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." Yet, Bern leaves the easy targets for the late-night talk show hosts and instead utilizes his caustic wit to unleash a diatribe about American policy, both domestic and foreign. Indeed, those looking for the biting sense of humor that filled his early works will find it employed in full-force throughout much of My Country II. Within the span of 30 minutes, he delivers his plan to change America’s course (President); opines about the kind-hearted, if befuddled American public (Ostrich Town); and echoes Nick Lowe’s (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding? on a scathing indictment of the Bush Administration’s imperious rule (Tyranny). Perhaps the finest track on My Country II, however, is After the Parade, a story told from the perspective of a man hailed as a hero after a fierce firefight in which he kills several enemy soldiers, but loses his companions. The tale itself is somewhat sketchy, yet the surrounding music combined with Bern’s heartfelt vocals fill the tune with a bittersweet grace that precisely captures the conflicted emotions of the youthful veteran’s situation. No matter on which side of the debate one happens to stand, this song is undeniably a powerful and moving masterpiece.
For certain, Bern isn’t happy with the current state of America, and although he probably will have problems with virtually anyone who has even the slightest shot at ousting Dubya from office, like many real liberals — as opposed to the Republican-lite politicians posing as Democrats — he knows this isn’t the time or the place to vote his conscience. This country simply can not survive four more years of George W. Bush’s destructive policies, and no one — be it Ralph Nader and Clarence Thomas — should be allowed to stand in the way of his objective. Simply put: Bush must be defeated. ½
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box