Song Of The Day 7/4/2013: The Pogues - "USA"

One of my favorite songs about America, although it's by an Irish band, and is about a heroin addict. But don't take that personally.

"It's the same wherever you go" is a line I've always thought about, the part of this song that I have always remembered and thought upon.

The storyteller in "USA" implies that he's gotten around the rest of the world a bit. He's seen and experienced things that we Americans have the tendency to commodify, because -- I don't know, "America first" or something like that. It sometimes seems that if we don't feel it first or get Oprah to validate it, then it doesn't actually exist.

We may have ducked isolationism, or at least have many more voices trying to get us out of that state nowadays, but sometimes I don't know. I think it's more important to find out what we have in common with our fellow global citizens than find more people to ostracize. That's what makes families great, what makes communities, states and nations great.

When you get it down to terms of humanity, we're really all going through the same shit.

I love America. I'm proud of us when we do our best, which is often enough. My kids, who do not have what you'd call nationalist parents, are pretty damn patriotic, and I'm frankly proud of that. They feel strongly about the potential they have as Americans. That's pretty wonderful to me. We have great capacity for empathy. We're getting better in that department, I think, if enough of us can avoid getting elected. (Rimshot.)

No matter who we are as individuals, there's someone else 9,000 miles away from us who's going through the exact same things we are: feelings, self-evaluation, loves, minor victories, losses. They may express their feelings differently, but it's the same thing. Hopefully we'll have the chance to get a drink with that person and have an old-fashioned bitch session about our common problems. That would be cool, and we could play darts afterwards.

Part of being patriotic is representing our values in service to people unlike us. With some notable exceptions, I think we're getting better at that. So I'm feeling pretty good about being an American lately.

Happy birthday to us. Another year wiser.



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