April 06, 2008

 

From the Archives

To "celebrate" once again the choices before us in this election year, we present this MTIH classic, originally posted in June 2006:


Raise your glass to the hard working people

I had a conversation last weekend about our current state of political affairs, and the Rolling Stones song Salt of the Earth was mentioned with regard to its line “Let’s think of the wavering millions / Who need leaders but get gamblers instead.”

That ambiguous line was brought home while reading an article/interview with Dick Cheney by former New York Times reporter Todd Purdum, now national editor at Vanity Fair. It’s a compelling piece, showing much of what I could have assumed about Cheney but then other stuff that proved I just don’t know Dick. For example, he was quite a prankster during his tenure as Ford’s chief of staff, and when he was Wyoming’s sole Congressman for 10 years he would make time back in the home office for a crazy coot they called Dynamite Lopez (in the pre-9/11 world he threatened that he carried a stick of dynamite with him – no worries, come on in, the Congressman will be right with you...).

But the crux of the story is about how Cheney’s character, not necessarily his ideology, has changed for the worse. Purdum speculates (and strongly so, as he interviewed a buttload of Cheney friends and aquaintances in addition to three conversations with the Veep himself) that the cause of the change falls about equally between his post-9/11 responsibilities, the massive amount of wealth he accrued with Haliburton, and his shaky health.

Interesting factoid – Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, a longtime Wyoming resident, worked on Cheney’s first congressional campaign in 1978. But the songwriter has changed his tune for sure (only slightly relieving my puzzlement over his initial support - hell, I don't guess Dems raise their head very high in the land of hate crimes). Barlow told Purdum via e-mail that Cheney’s, “dark intellect has become one of the most dangerous forces in the world; he has become a global sociopath, a creature of enormous power and intellect combined with all the empathy of a HAL 9000.”

I can just see the one-sided exchange in the West Wing, “I’m sorry Colin, I cannot allow you to do that."

So, back to the Stones. Regarding our need for leaders but instead getting gamblers, what could be a more accurate description of this administration? They have gambled away much of America’s and their own faithful's good will in a series of crap shoots, both foreign and domestic, that are based on about as reliable a strategy as “I just KNOW I can beat the house on this roll. Just one more.” Indeed, baby needs a new armored Humvee. In fairness, the song really offers an indictment of ineffective politicians of all stripes, pronouncing them a choice between two dreaded diseases - a strange beauty show, indeed.

So in honor of all the stay-at-home voters out there, we present the lyrics of the last tune on 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet (IM-not-so-HO, first in the series of the four greatest Stones albums which includes Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St).


Salt of the Earth
(Jagger / Richards)

Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and black and white
They don’t look real to me
In fact, they look so strange

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the uncounted heads
Let’s think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray-suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio

And when I look into the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and black and white
They don’t look real to me
Or don’t they look so strange

Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag-taggy people
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Let’s drink to the two thousand million
Let’s think of the humble of birth
.

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Comments:
That would be Sir Mick Jagger, I take it, personal friend of Prince Charles and Tony Blair. Great. Another working class hero.
 
I knew I was gonna get some (perhaps well-deserved) grief for that. But let's not notch-down our great poets based on classism, SG. We'd have none if that was a qualifier. Besides, I know you hate the Stones.
 
I'm not fond of them either, but what Jagger does now really doesn't reflect on what he sang 40 years ago.

As for Cheney, there is still time for him to make good from these Darth Vader comparisons. All he has to do is kill Bush, then die himself. There. All vindicated.
 
I'm not fond of them either, but what Jagger does now really doesn't reflect on what he sang 40 years ago.

As for Cheney, there is still time for him to make good from these Darth Vader comparisons. All he has to do is kill Bush, then die himself. There. All vindicated.
 
Great song that. I could almost forgive them 'Harlem Shuffle' for that one :)

LMAO @ Joe!
I guess though, where the Darth Vader comparison falls down is that, as we discovered in 'Revenge of the Sith', Darth used to be a good-looking fellow :)
 
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