Friday, August 27, 2010

"New World Man" by Rush

On their own it's inevitable Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart would have each had stellar careers in music; as teenagers, in Toronto's Willowdale neighbourhood in 1968, they formed Rush, and so made Canadian music history together instead!

Alex Lifeson is the only remaining member of Rush's original lineup; on the occasion of his birthday, please enjoy the sweetest riffs in my favourite song of theirs, New World Man from the 1982 album Signals. This live performance of the song is from Rush's 1984 tour in support of that year's album Grace Under Pressure. Their most pointedly anti-US song, New World Man is also their only US Top Forty hit; a similar feat would be achieved a little less than a decade later, when Paul Hyde's America is Sexy - from the album Turtle Island - topped the charts there in 1989 despite lyrics critical of American culture*.

Lifeson's career took on a more actorly tone in 2003, when he appeared in an episode of Trailer Park Boys named Closer to the Heart, after of one of Rush's bigger hits; he also appeared in Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.

*After all, it
did have the words 'America' and 'sexy' in the title...

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Seumas Gagne said...

"despite lyrics critical of American culture"

When you have self confidence you can laugh at your own foibles.

michael sean morris said...

Which fails to explain the "America: Love It Or Leave It" attitude prevalent there now. Or are you suggesting that these uber-patriotic types are actually insecure, and covering up for it by waving the flag harder, rather than agitating for change?

Honestly, I think it's just that people don't listen to lyrics; they see the title "America Is Sexy" and think "I like that song - it's got a good beat, and I can dance to it."

Seumas Gagne said...

Where is that attitude prevalent? Please cite your sources.

michael sean morris said...

Uh, anywhere outside your liberal bubble...

It seems like for five years after 9-11 the US media was inundated by that "America: Love It Or Leave It" "You're Either With Us Or Against Us" jingoistic attitude in country music videos, on talk radio, and Fox News to name just three. Last year when I was in Seattle I saw dozens of such bumper stickers, to the point where if I see another "Don't Mess With Texas" anything I know I'll barf; I shudder to think how much of it I'd find in Texas. I won't even mention the Second Amendment kitsch.

Are you denying that there's a segment of the US population (the so-called red-staters) who will abide absolutely no criticism of their country, even if well founded? Unless, of course, there's a Democratic President, Congress, or Senate, in which case all they do is bitch?

I'm not saying I agree with it, but where the Bush Administration has been most successful is in playing up the partisan aspects of American life (religious vs secular, Democrat vs Republican, red state vs blue state) and preying upon petty bigotries (anti-immigrant sentiment, opposition to marriage equality, even fighting stem cell research) in order to consolidate their power base.

Fortunately in the last year the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards the middle, especially now that the war is less popular amongst those on the right, and thanks to guys like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. The actual point where the worm turned was Stephen Colbert's address to the Washington Correspondents' Dinner in 2006.

I've tried to make this point to you many times before that when Canadians or British criticize America it only seems unduly harsh to you because you live in a country where any criticism is seen as unpatriotic, especially since Reagan, whose neo-conservatism is founded on it. Whereas in this country patriotism is essentially a sin, and in England it's practically a hate crime.

Still, that scrapping back and forth, er, healthy debate between the Kathy Griffins and the Bill O'Reillys makes American media some of the most vibrant in the world, which is why I feature so much of it here.

If you'd like I could start posting any examples I come across; I'm sure I could come up with a catchy title for a new feature.

Seumas Gagne said...

"Are you denying that there's a segment of the US population (the so-called red-staters) who will abide absolutely no criticism of their country, even if well founded?"

Not at all, but it is only a segment. Your choice to focus on that exclusively betrays your anti-US bias.

Taking a broader view, every sovereign nation acts in its own interests and every other nation wishes it didn't.

The thing that puzzles me is your assertion that national pride is somehow ignoble. I suppose it's a basic difference of collective opinion.

michael sean morris said...

It's more a matter of which group has dominance when, and why. For a while it seemed the Red-staters were in charge, and the Dixie Chicks were about to be executed on pay-per-view by professional wrestlers.

I'll allow that you busted me as to where my focus lies; I also tend to overlook nice gay-friendly people in favour of 'phobes too, since I am a bitter little man drenched in cynicism.

As for my feelings about the United States, they are embedded in a thousand places in this blog, and are as complex as the US itself. Your assertion that "every sovereign nation acts in its own interests and every other nation wishes it didn't" is both true and right. The problem comes in when certain Red State pundits try to claim that *only* US interests matter, or that they somehow ought always to come first.

Of course, that opens the whole mess of American exceptionalism, and to properly debate that we really need Michelle Lafrance up in here. I think Bill Maher was right when he said (and I paraphrase): "It's time to stop going on about how great America is and make it that way." Of course, his original statement was supported by a lot of statistics that put the US far from #1 in a lot of rankings, such as infant mortality, adult literacy, and the like, so it had greater force than I can give it here.