“La Bamba” (Ritchie Valens)

Some say the song itself can be traced back to the conquest, and, further, to Africa, and that there are 500 or so verses which can be sung to it. Cornucopia. In this distillation, the “captain” says to his dance partner: for you, I will act as a “sailor,” and divest myself of power. After all, in order to dance “la bamba” (which references a certain swinging, swaying, wobbling), there can be no leader and follower, as in formal dance. The master/slave dialectic, therefore, does not apply.  Instead, one needs a certain grace (“de gracia”) and a little something else (“y otra cosita”). Excessiveness, below or before sovereignty/subjecthood.


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“Working on a Building” (Cowboy Junkies)

Permanent housing. Gospel traditional reworked through Xanax-like vocals and behind the beat accompaniment. Singer plays with possible performances (as a drunkard and liar) and then denies she’s a singer; if she were, though, she’d sing and work on the building for “my Lord. “Religious subjectivities, surely, are always structured by denials, but also by somnambulant identity politics: the bondsman forced to produce/build self without own signature.


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“War” (Henry Cow)

War is a product of the “partial mind,” clouded by “dark obscurity.” One could read this Hegel’s way, since he argues that the State “is most supremely its own” (has a truly self-sufficient and complete identity) only at the moment of War. But instead of critiquing identity, which cannot be closed without adopting a warlike posture toward the other, the Cow’s disciplinary Marxism maliciously heckles all patriotic persons as dumb lemmings (“people get what they deserve”) who should have been able to make themselves whole without all the drum beating, trumpet playing, and gore. A project both impossible and endlessly, potentially murderous; or, ranting become its own object.

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