Friday, August 26, 2011

Lyric Deconstruction: "American Ride"

Toby Keith, 2009

Winter gettin' colder, summer gettin' warmer.
Tidal wave comin' 'cross the Mexican border.
Why buy a gallon, it's cheaper by the barrel.
Just dont get busted singin' Christmas carols.

By this point, about 24 seconds into the song, you're probably thinking "Oh no, here's some more Toby Keith retarded bullshit," and you're partially right. It's difficult to put a charitable spin on "Tidal wave comin' cross the Mexican border." And if you have any reports of anyone being arrested for singing Christmas carols, do forward them.

That's us, that's right
Gotta love this American ride.
Both ends of the ozone burnin.
Funny how the world keeps turnin.
Look ma, no hands.
I love this American ride.
Gotta love this American ride.

I feel like I really don't have to explain that ozone degradation and the rotation of the Earth are two widely disconnected phenomena. I mean, we could lose the entire ozone layer - indeed, the entire atmosphere - and the world would keep turnin, for billions of years. It's angular momentum, a widely-understood property of physics. So it's really not that funny that the world keeps turnin. IT'S NOT FUNNY AT ALL.

But wait! You have to see the video to appreciate this song. I mean, it's a terrible video, but it makes clear that this song is an equal opportunity hater.

There's a fascinating scene that begins around :40. We see the classic American Gothic couple, only they're getting foreclosed on! And what's replacing the family farm? Big box stores!

Now wait a minute. Isn't the guiding principle of unfettered capitalism that you should be free to do whatever you want with your money? So if you're Best Buy or whatever and you want to buy a farm and put up a store there, you should be able to, right? So what's the problem, Toby Keith? What are you, some kind of socialist?

Momma gets her rocks off watchin' Desperate Housewives.
Daddy works his ass off payin' for the good life.
Kids on the YouTube learnin how to be cool.
Livin in a cruel world, pays to be a mean girl.

I guess this is more or less the standard kind of workin-hard-to-make-a-buck-my-wife-don't-understand country music stuff. Hard to have any problem with that.


At this stage in the video, we are presented with two interesting animated images. The first is Pat Robertson riding George W. Bush like a horse. Let's set aside the extremely disturbing aspects of this tableau and try to divine what's implied here - that Bush was a tool of the Religious Right? Meh, he certainly had that potential, and God knows what would have happened, but 9/11 kind of took the focus off those nutbags.

The second image is Obama being carried aloft by Wall Street bankers. Hard to argue with that. In fact, that's probably the most straightforward and accurate political commentary in the whole thing.

Poor little infamous, America's town.
She gained five pounds and lost her crown.
Quick fix plastic surgical antidote.
Got herself a record deal, can't even sing a note.

Hmmmm. Well, Dominique Ramirez, Miss San Antonio, did, in fact, lose accuse pageant officials of taking her crown when she gained weight. But I have no information that she got herself a record deal.

(I initially thought this was a backhanded slap at Carrie Underwood, another former pageant contestant who got herself a record deal. But I think the consensus is that she's a perfectly fine singer, although, I confess, I'm not really down with the Nashville gossip.)

Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller.
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars.
Customs caught a thug with an aerosol can.
If the shoe don't fit, fits gonna hit the shan.

I have to confess, when I first heard this, I thought "I, for one, am glad that plasma is widely available! It's a valuable life-saving tool that doctors in emergency situations use every day!" Oh, wait, he's not talking about that, is he. Oh, he means TVs.

Well, so what if TVs are getting bigger! That's progress!

I won't even bother with the frivolous lawsuits thing. Yawn.

The last line is completely impenetrable, and I assume the songwriters just ran out of gas at the end. Just as I have here.



GG said...

I had the same thought about "plasma," my first instinct was that it somehow tied back to an anti-stem cell research sentiment. Really, though, the problem here is that you're putting this much scrutiny into Toby Keith lyrics. Toby's music is for FEELIN, not thinkin. Thinkin's for those out-of-touch ivory tower types, not REAL AMERICANS.

Tamagosan said...

I think the music is okay. But then those lyrics, yikes. Then the animation is all too surreal, so I don't know what to think. Wait, like GG said, thinking is for fools! WHEW.