Off key | Rock Candy

Friday, January 18, 2008

Off key

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2008 at 9:44 AM

The Washington Post has a nice round-up of the mixed, often hilarious messages campaign songs send.

Hillary Clinton, for example, whips up supporters at rallies with ear-blasting recordings of Tom Petty's "American Girl" and Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business," among others. The title of the first song suggests a kind of patriotic autobiography. The second is supposed to say something about Clinton's can-do style.

Except that "Takin' Care of Business" is actually about not taking care of business. The '70s-era rock number (which George W. Bush also used in a 2004 campaign video) is from the point of view of a slacker: "People see you having fun/Just a-lying in the sun/Tell them that you like it this way." The lyrics go on to add, "It's the work that we avoid/And we're all self-employed/We love to work at nothing all day."

"American Girl" is about an American girl, all right. But it's not about her patriotism. It's about the shattering of her romantic dreams: "And for one desperate moment there/He crept back in her memory/God, it's so painful/Something that's so close/And still so far out of reach."

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