“Golden Country” (R.E.O. Speedwagon)

According to this trax, there’s a certain kind of joy associated with being an embarrassed American. R.E.O. Speedwagon’s statement song—released two years before Nixon’s resignation and in the midst of continuing domestic/Vietnam violence—lyrically shifts the sheepishness over to those in power, momentarily. Your faces must be “so red,” we hear, given the race riots and “cryin’” of the anti-war left. And America’s general neglect of the poor, the starving, and the vulnerable will lead to only one result if there isn’t a day of (self-)reckoning: “your country will burn.” Shaming the powerful, the people will “put an end” to “all this ugliness.” But there’s a note of abandonment here as well. “Before we leave,” we’ll have to “make a stand.” Wait. Where are we going? Maybe more importantly, where’s the band going? Ending before a beginning, while everything’s started already. What looks like the verge is a monetization of protest—astroturfed, as well. An inadvertent antecedent to FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Trumpism more generally. When standing up also means ponying up.


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