Friday, August 13, 2004

John Kerry: the musical 

The whole world is singing about John Kerry. In fact, the whole world has been singing about John Kerry for many years, without quite knowing it, and without John Kerry knowing that he has long ago become a part of pop music history.

I had all the best intentions; I wanted to go just one day without writing something about John Kerry. It's time to admit it: I can't, I'm hooked. And on this occasion I blame the 1980s music for my transgression.

You see, last night I've been thinking once again about John Kerry and his amazing
adventures in Cambodia. I then started humming one of my favourite 80s tunes, Kim Wilde's "Cambodia". Then I realised that she might have been singing about John Kerry:

"Well he was Thailand based
She was an airforce wife
He used to fly weekends
It was the easy life
But then it turned around
And he began to change
She didn't wonder then
She didn't think it strange
But then he got a call
He had to leave that night
He couldn't say too much
But it would be alright
He didn't need to pack
They'd meet the next night
He had a job to do
Flying to Cambodia"
OK, Kerry wasn't Thailand-based and he didn't actually fly, but then again maybe that's just a cover story for his secret missions that his CIA hat had told him to give out. One thing's for sure; the experience sure did change him; he came back a different man.

But Kim Wilde is not the only one who might have been inspired by John Kerry's life and adventures. One of the greatest punk bands of all time, Dead Kennedys (you see there's already a connection there to John F Kerry), sang in their classic
"Holidays in Cambodia":

"So you been to school
For a year or two
And you know you’ve seen it all
In daddy’s car
Thinkin’ you’ll go far
Back east your type don’t crawl

Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin’ that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul

It’s time to taste what you most fear
Right guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear¡­

It’s a holiday in Cambodia
It’s tough, kid, but it’s life
It’s a holiday in Cambodia
Don’t forget to pack a wife"
The life of the Senator from Massachusetts encapsulated in the wild, throbbing, furious 3 minutes and 43 seconds. That's what I call the power of rock music.

And then there is the Canadian songmaister Bruce Cockburn, singing in
"Postcards from Cambodia" about another memento (beside the hat) that John Kerry might have brought out of the country under heavy Khmer Rouge fire:

"Abe Lincoln once turned to somebody and said:
Do you ever find yourself talking with the dead?

There are three tiny deaths heads carved out of mammoth tusk
on the ledge in my bathroom.
They grin at me in the morning when I'm taking a leak,
but they say very little."
As the dying Kurtz had said, "The horror! The horror!"


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