Thursday, January 13, 2011

"And each time I feel like this inside,/There's one thing I wanna know:/What's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding?"

The Song: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," Elvis Costello & the Attractions. Words & music by Nick Lowe. Track 13 of Armed Forces (U.S. version), 1979.
How/when acquired: Purchased cut-out cassette, c. 1984.
Listen/watch here.

You know what, this whole week will be nothing but Elvis Costello songs. I've said before that I could do an entire year of nothing but Elvis Costello songs; that might be excessive, but at the moment I'm on a roll. Nick Lowe wrote this song and recorded the first version, and many other artists have covered it, but Elvis Costello's is the definitive interpretation. The song is not on the original U.K. issue of Armed Forces, but was added to the U.S. album after it became a hit single.

I am so very tired of the knee-jerk righteous indignation that spews from both sides of the political debate any time a public figure opens his or her mouth.

What a relief, then, to hear President Obama sound presidential last night. In lieu of a substantive post of my own, I'm just going to reprint the relevant paragraphs of last night's speech:

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.

No comments: