Sunday, August 20, 2006

Save the country

Last week I was up late on Saturday night and I ended up listening to some music that I hadn't listened to in ages -- the music of Laura Nyro. Laura Nyro, for those who may not know, is a folk singer from the 60s who had phenomenal success as a songwriter, less so as an actual singer. Perhaps some of the most famous of her songs were recorded by the 5th Dimension -- "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," and "Save The Country" were all performed by both Laura and the 5th Dimension. Of course, the 5th Dimension versions are the ones everyone knows. Even Barbra Streisand got into the act and recorded a version of Laura's "Stoney End" which remains, to this day, probably the definitive version of this song, if not, at least the best known.

Laura's album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession is probably her best known and most critically acclaimed work. I purchased a couple songs off of that particular album and a couple off of her Best Of compilation that iTunes had. The songs take me to a New York that I fear may only exist only in my imagination. It's a New York City of the late 60s and early 70s, when all was not well with the world. It's a world before cell phones and the internet and instant communication. Our government was deliberately misleading us about a foreign war and the people were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. There's something about music from that time period that, like it or not, encapsulates a lot of the anti-war movement of the 60s. And given my "affection" for that period in history, it comes as no surprise that a lot of the music from that period of time gets to me as well.

I was listening to the 5th Dimension's version of "Save The County" which I have incredibly fond memories of -- because as a kid, my folks had the 8-track tape of their Greatest Hits On Earth and I knew most of those songs inside and out - "Save The Country" included. It's a typical war protest song although I don't think I really figured that out until I was on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and we listened to their music ad nauseum. And the funny thing is, listening to it now, I find that a lot of the sentiments could apply to now, with an equally unpopular foreign war raging in the Middle East, with our government deliberately misleading us about it. But, in stark contrast to the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era, I find myself asking "Where is the outrage?" How can the government illegally listen in on phone conversations without warrants and no one's up in arms? How can our illustrious leader stand up in front of a group of people and defend a program that a court has just said is illegal?

Craziness. Save the country.

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