October 2, 2008
Chet Flippo is wondering when the songs about the current economic crisis will arrive:
Is anyone writing soundtrack songs for an America running helplessly headlong toward ruin? I’m not going to attempt to go into political issues, other than to say that tough times can and should produce music that can address and perhaps explain and make some sense out of the chaos that’s all around. To instill some sense of order and normalcy into everyday life. And to try, as journalism’s mission once was, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
And if ever a nation needed some memorable music, it is the United States of America of today, which has truly become a pitiful, helpless giant. With no direction home. End of sermon.
Where’s the music?
There were some great songs along these lines in the early nineties, when the country suffered a tough recession. My favorite of all of them was Sawyer Brown’s “Cafe on the Corner.” I was also fond of Travis Tritt’s “Lord Have Mercy on the Working Man” and Pirates of the Mississippi’s “A Streetman Named Desire.” Kathy Mattea’s “Standing Knee Deep in a River” alluded to the homeless problem in a subtle but effective way.
But my favorite song of all in this vein came two decades earlier. Merle Haggard’s “If We Make it Through December” deals with hard times in a deeply personal way by having a father explain to his daughter why there can’t be a Christmas this year. He comforts her by promsing brighter days ahead, but the shakiness of his vocal indicates that he can’t quite convince himself it’s true.
What are you favorite songs for hard times?