I can’t say that there’s much I’ve done right in my life, but of the few things that may qualify the one thing I truly did right was getting my niece into punk rock music. That’s right. No Barney for this kid (or whatever the hell parents force their kids to listen to these days). I have a playlist on YouTube that we listen to probably once a day. She’s all of fifteen months old, but the moment she knows I’m going to put some music on she gets all excited and starts bouncing around. Her favorite song is Girls Don’t Like Boys by Good Charlotte, but she’ll take pretty much any punk music on the list.
I also found this awesome artist on YouTube that does heavy metal covers of pop songs. I have a playlist of his stuff too that she loves. I have to thank my friend out in New York for turning me on to him. She didn’t actually intend to. She wanted me to play the theme song for Frozen of all things to my niece. So, I went looking for a heavy metal cover and found Leo Moracchioli of Frog Leap Studios. He’s from Sweden I think, and he’s phenomenal.
Of course, in the process of finding songs for her I went back to the stuff I used to listen back when listened to music a lot. One of the albums was Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World. And because I’m now listening to the songs as lyrics videos on YouTube, I finally caught some of the lyrics I hadn’t really been paying attention to. (Which is kind of funny because I caught that Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People was about a kid going homicidal the first time I heard it, and my sister totally missed that.)
So out of curiosity, I went to look up the story behind the lyrics. I didn’t actually find that story but I found a more interesting one. The Bleed American album came out about a month before 9/11. So, shortly after that the studio renamed the album to Jimmy Eat World and the song Bleed American to Salt, Sweat, and Sugar, for fear of it being misinterpreted.
Now I, like everyone else remembers 9/11. In the aftermath, patriotism became our national religion, and being or even being believed to be anti-American was the cardinal sin. That’s how we ended up with the Patriot Act. But that being said, Bleed American is probably one of the most up beat and inspirational albums I’ve ever listened to. To misinterpret it you’d have to be fucking retarded. One of their songs
Hear You Me (May Angels Lead You In) still gets comments on YouTube to this day from people listening to it in remembrance of someone they lost. Seriously go read the comments on that video. It’s heart breaking.
Fifteen years later and we’ve come full circle. As I was writing this, I just realized that by the time I post it, it will be 9/11. I went looking for the exact time the first plane hit the tower so I could schedule the post to be released at that moment. What I found instead is that supposedly some football players are refusing to stand up for the national anthem because of racial injustice. How quickly we can turn around.
Here’s my take. Every Marine I served with, the only color I saw when I looked at them was green. I know that’s not true for everyone, and I met racist son’s of bitches in the Marines just like every where else. But oddly I remember them being treated like broken children that just didn’t know any better. You don’t know any better and that’s fine, but do your job and keep your opinions to yourself. Like everything else in a combat zone, anything that wasn’t going to kill you got the volume turned way down.
And maybe I missed it in the news, but I don’t remember the hijackers calling ahead to make sure only white people were going to be in the towers. My point is, if you want to protest whatever injustices you believe are out there, feel free. But maybe don’t do it by spitting on the graves of the people that died, so you could have the right to do that. That’s about as bad of taste as the Westboro wackadoos.
In a debate, there’s a concept called “generosity”. It means giving your opponent’s argument the best interpretation possible when arguing against it. I think we could use some more generosity. I think we needed it back when Jimmy Eat World renamed their album, and I think we need it today from everyone looking for any little thing they can to complain about. I’m not saying they’re wrong every time, but I haven’t heard them being generous in their interpretations once. And to the football players who think it’s a good idea to protest the national anthem on 9/11, I guess I’ll repeat myself. “You don’t know any better and that’s fine, but do your job and keep your opinions to yourself.”
For everyone else. Here’s a little Bleed American.