Song: CatÂs in the Cradle
Artist: Harry Chapin
Offending Lyric: ÂMy child arrived just the other dayÂ He came to the world in the usual wayÂ But there were planes to catch and bills to payÂ He learned to walk while I was awayÂ Â
The Bottom Line: Few movements have so obvious a source, but for the milquetoasts of the 1980s and 1990s, there is but one narrow line, and it leads directly to this monstrous ode to feeling guilty about being a good provider. Every dad who worked his ass off so little Tommy could eat, play, and not freeze to death is made to feel like a cruel bastard because he took a sales call rather than throwing the little snot a few more pitches. Masculinity itself owes its ignoble end to this castrating minstrel show; where feminists and swishy sociologists started to blame the penis for Vietnam, Watergate, and John Wayne. Okay, so I missed the learning-to-walk thing. Unless the puke has spina bifida or something, heÂll put one foot in front of the other with or without me. Iron John would eventually make a halfhearted comeback, but he never really had the stomach for battle after being blindsided by ChapinÂs limp-wrested revisionism. Fuck your job, pops, your son needs his hair mussed.
Song: DonÂt Worry, Be Happy
Artist: Bobby McFerrin
Offending Lyric: ÂIn your life expect some troubleÂ But when you worryÂ You make it doubleÂ Don’t worry, be happyÂ Â
The Bottom Line: It should surprise no one that the Bush/Quayle team co-opted this mandate for passivity as their campaign slogan, what with eight years of nap time as their raison dÂetre. More than the political scumbags who forced such propaganda down our throats, though, is the essential message of the tune: suck it up, shut up, and accept whatever comes your way. Every self-help clichÃ© of subsequent years owes its power to McFerrinÂs atrocity, and in its wake was a citizenry primed and ready to swallow lies, distractions, and murderous corruption. While Reagan lionized the individual, McFerrin made him insipid, ignorant, and utterly compliant. Just as egregious, though, is that Forrest Gump would never have been possible without it. Its connection to the undeniably watchable Cocktail aside, the song summed up our retreat from engagement with a depressing catchiness rarely equaled.
Song: God Bless the USA
Artist: Lee Greenwood
Offending Lyric: ÂAnd IÂm proud to be an AmericanÂ Where at least I know IÂm freeÂ And I wonÂt forget the men who died, who gave that right to meÂ Â
The Bottom Line: Used to buffer ReaganÂs re-election campaign (it played at the convention), as well as a recruitment tool during the original Gulf War, GreenwoodÂs simplistic rant in defense of mass murder is arguably the most poisonous song ever released in the United States. For Greenwood and his black-hearted ilk, freedom is little more than the right to utter racial epithets in public, or redefine supply-side economics as a boon for the poor. Considering its jackbooted bullying disguised as patriotism, it is, in fact, a tune better suited for the cold winters of totalitarian Russia than wide open prairies and fruited plains. In an especially heinous turn, Greenwood blankets all battles — from Normandy to Grenada — with the comforting notion that wherever soldiers take up arms, America itself is at stake. You know, because had we let Manuel Noriega slip into the Panamanian night, the barbarians just might have broken through at last. Love is hate, war is peace, and Iraq is Iwo Jima.
Song: Butterfly Kisses
Artist: Bob Carlisle
Offending Lyric: ÂThere’s two things I know for sure: She was sent here from heaven and sheÂs daddy’s little girl.Â
The Bottom Line: Okay, there are the numerous allusions to Jesus, prayer, and heaven, as well as a creepy undercurrent that borders on incestuous longing, but worst of all, no wedding after 1997 could ever hope to be without it. It was practically mandated. And when will Americans cease to connect their reproductive capabilities to the manna of heaven? Last time I checked, human beings regurgitated a fetus just about as often as they laid cable on the toilet. The only miracle is that after fathers repeatedly seduced their Lolita-esque daughters with such lightning-like fervor, the song wasnÂt seen as a call to arms for patricide. Or maybe itÂs simply the flip-side to ChapinÂs guilt-fest, and overworked papas everywhere felt the need to mount a comeback in the lives of their mom-suffocated children. Either way, adults are no longer allowed to be remote figures of steel and brawn, or even express authority. Love is bestÂ displayed as pap, silliness, and getting down to their level. Kiss the wee forehead now, and secure those hospice visits later.
Song: I Am Woman
Artist: Helen Reddy
Offending Lyric: ÂI am woman watch me growÂ See me standing toe to toeÂ As I spread my lovinÂ arms across the landÂ But I’m still an embryoÂ With a long long way to goÂ Until I make my brother understand.Â
The Bottom Line: Has there ever been a more foreboding line than Âspread my lovinÂ arms across the landÂ? From that seemingly uplifting turn, feminine fascism took hold in American soil, seeing fit to release itself only after banning books, protesting rock music, finding a right to publicly breast feed in the Constitution, and spreading humorless authoritarianism from school boards to corporate board rooms. Nudity became rape, sex an apocalyptic means of patriarchal control, and, depressingly, at last a final verdict would be rendered on the suitability of the tube top. ReddyÂs obnoxious plea for understanding and, most deceptively, equality, was little more than the still-toxic notion that women do it right, do it best, and, if need be, do it until every male ear is burning with resignation and despair. And so we beat on: feelings trumping intellect, leaving the office early to attend BillyÂs triangle recital, and the evasion of responsibility whenever possible. WeÂve watched them grow, gentlemen, and America hasnÂt had a sack of initiative since.