Potential New National Anthem #3

by |
08/05/2008 3:30 PM |

While the lyrics to this song have little to do with patriotism, or even anything particularly nice (viewed through the lens of national pride, the lyrics could at best be construed as benevolent xenophobia?), the way this song makes me feel is the way I’d like us all to feel about America. Happy, focused, pumped up.

Here it is.

Also, I’d never seen the video to this song (has anyone, ever?) until looking it up just now, and I can’t think of any song/video combination more anachronistic than this. It’s dreadful. When I listen to the song, I imagine people riding in an old station wagon through flat fields, windows down, pumping their fists out the window in happiness. (Kind of like the album cover, I guess.) Anyway, for the anthem we’ll have to record a new video.

9 Comment

  • I can’t listen to this song without picturing the creey imagery of this video. I probably saw it at least once a day for several weeks on end when I was a kid. Nothing about this tune is focused, happy, or upbeat for me. One of the best videos ever made!

  • Unintentionally, I’m sure, Petty captures that red-state mindset nicely, which is why I think they invited him to play the Superbowl: this song’s xenophobia; the vapid nationalism of “American Girl”‘s chorus (who listens to verses anyway?); and “I Won’t Back Down”‘s celebration of staying the course…

  • You watch what you say about “American Girl” ’round these parts, Hank. What you call the chorus’s “vapid nationalism”, I call a not-to-be-sniffed-at ability to appeal to the widest swath of the population with a message that raises all up to the same place, rather than bringing us all down to the lowest common denominator. Oh yeah, all right, ask not what the American girl can do for you.

  • Amen. Nicely put, Mark. I’d say they chose him for the Superbowl–something everyone loves–because pretty much everyone loves his music.

    Obviously many people hate the Superbowl and many people hate Tom Petty, but I don’t think his music is at all aligned red or blue, politically. (And he’s a shaggy hippie surfer dude. Or at one point that was his image, before he became a living skeleton. A genius skeleton.)

    What would you propose, Henry, as a national unifier?

    My next one will be Galileo, by the Indigo Girls.

  • I propose “Time to Pretend” by MGMT, obviously.

    and I dedicate “Free Falling” to US $?

  • Edith–I don’t really think he’s aligned one way or the other politically, either, but I could imagine him being co-opted easily…those song titles seem to lend themselves to it.

    Mark–I like Tom Petty as much as the next guy, and don’t sneeze at that hook. I didn’t mean to suggest “American Girl” was vapid, only that it could be treated that way…like “Born in the USA”?

  • Ah, yes, noted Reagan campaign song ‘Born in the USA’. Funny thing about universality, it means whatever you want it to mean…

  • I have no idea what you’re talking about in regard to “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” It’s definitely not an upbeat song (if anything, its reverbed drums literally echo the lyrics’ seething paranoia), and while the video may be dated, that concluding image of Petty-as-Mad-Hatter and friends EATING poor Alice has stuck with me since I was little kid as one of the most disturbing moments in music video history. At least, I can’t think of any other that actually features cannibalism.

  • I concede that I’m alone on this one, at this point–if I had ever seen the music video as a kid, I imagine I’d feel differently.

    I don’t know though… maybe “happy, focused, pumped-up” isn’t quite the right description, but there’s something haunting and grim but also epic and inspiring about the song. Doesn’t sound like anything Petty did before or since. And I think those are good qualities for an anthem. (Lyrics aside.)