Sunday, January 08, 2006

I Am So Using This Photo The Next Time I Teach Deportee

To begin, forget that I found this album a whole seven years after its actual release. I didn't even have rehearsal, I just missed it.

That said, Hooray for Karina for giving me a discovery this Christmas! You know me, my dear. In 1998, Billy Bragg and Wilco teamed up to put music to some "lost" poetry of Woody Guthrie's. The result was Mermaid Avenue.

But you already knew that, didn't you?

This leads me to some lyrics blogging. Christ For President takes a whole other Jesus and suggests that he run for office. It's not the Jesus we're running today, it's the one who feeds the poor and champions the weak. Sounds good, right? Nah, he'd piss people off too. Running the Kingdom of God isn't any way to run a nation, right? It facinates me, though, how Guthrie had this picture of a God-run government. I don't know exactly when he penned these lyrics, but remember he died in 1967 so it would be long before the era of the Christian right. I wonder what would have happened if this picture of Jesus was co-opted for the purpose of politics.

Just thinking, here's the song.

Christ for President
Let's have Christ our President
Let us have him for our king
Cast your vote for the Carpenter
That you call the Nazarene

The only way we can ever beat
These crooked politician men
Is to run the money changers out of the temple
Put the Carpenter in

O It's Jesus Christ our President
God above our king
With a job and a pension for young and old
We will make hallelujah ring

Every year we waste enough
To feed the ones who starve
We build our civilization up
And we shoot it down with wars

But with the Carpenter on the seat
Way up in the Capital town
The USA would be on the way
Prosperity Bound!

Words by Woody GuthrieMusic by Jeff Tweedy/Jay Bennett
Words © Copyright 1998 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc


Tim Sean said...

Just so you can savor it, Wilco and Bragg did a second album of Guthrie lyrics which is just as lovely, a follow up to the one you now have in your hands. I have absolutely adored the song "California Stars" since the record came out. Please think of me every time you hear that song. Thank you.

educat said...

I am waiting for the newness and wonder of Vol 1 to wear off before I get Vol 2, but it shall happen. It shall.

This discovery is of the magnitude of Nanci Griffith's "Other Voices, Other Rooms" series. It's that big.

And yes, Tim, "California Stars" is now yours in my head.

And someday, my head will be huge in Belgium.

Inheritor of Heaven said...

Thanks for that post and the lyrics. Made for wonderful Monday morning reading!

Scott Jones said...

How did you not know this? I wasn't even that cool when I was listening to Mermaid Avenue.

educat said...

I am simply not smoove. I have no other excuse other than it was pre-internet and at the apex of my depression.

At your least cool, you are cooler than I am at my best. I am in total acceptance of this fact.

Scott Jones said...

I've developed whatever coolness I have. It is not an inherent trait.

I'm also quite dorky.

I think being a youth minister you have to develop the two contrasting poles of dorkiness and coolness. In fact, you hope that each contributes to the other in a paradoxical way (the more skilled ym-s pull this off the best).