“A quiet voice is singing something to me,
An age old song about the home of the brave
In this land here of the free”
I seem to be getting annoyed about events in this country more easily these days. Not just annoyed, but frankly pissed off. Recently while listening to a song and reading the lyrics I realized I was listening to a song that had a real anger to it, masked within a foot tapping medium-tempo country beat. It oozes that anger and vitriol with vivid little snapshots the song describes. There is senseless violence, abandonment, and unhappiness at a life feeling over before it really begins. It mirrors much of what we seem to hear today in the continual breaking down of society that makes us shake our heads and say, how did we get here. How, when and why did it get so bad.
The thing was, as I read the lyrics that were so forthright and contemporary it actually became the cause of pissing me off. You see though the reality of those words were so relatable today I became angry when I realized they were in fact from almost 30 years ago. The song in question is One Time, One Night by one of the greatest American bands, Los Lobos. It is over 40 years since the band’s formation and they show no sign of slowing up and unlike a lot of bands, have continually explored a range of styles. As to the song One Time, One Night, I have known it for years myself, but playing it again recently the lyrics hit me hard and deep at the right time.
“A lady dressed in white with the man she loved
Standing along the side of their pickup truck
A shot rang out in the night, just when everything seemed right
Another headline written down in America”
There was just something that really struck a nerve with me as our country seems to be angrier and filled with less compassion and more violence and racism than ever before. We have become so desensitized to the violence and anger that even the headlines seem passe somehow. Even worse is that collectively we do not seem to care that we have reached this stage as a nation. Where once was discourse is now shouting. Where once we tried to understand one another and our personal views , there is instead gamesmanship. We try to best the other person, with half-truths from 24/7 news cycles and memes we share on our social media which conveniently sum up our thoughts for us, saving us the time to you know…have a conversation with one another. I am guilty of all of the above because sadly, it really has become the norm in our society.
This becomes more disheartening when I see elected officials and pundits who should know better spouting misinformation and downright lies to a public gullible to share it, usually with the proclamation, “I heard it for myself on TV so it is true.” Sadly so much is actually untrue these days. Or exaggerated. The once valued sources of information that used to be considered fact are now thrown aside and replaced by angry people shouting into a microphone. Worse still is that I believe a deep divide has happened in this country now, and sides are being pitted against one another. There was a time in my life where I thought collectively as a nation we were moving past those kinds of assumptions yet it has faded in my opinion. A Faded America.
“I wake up to a world that’s still the same
My father said to be strong and that a good man could never do wrong
In a dream I had last night in America”
A few weeks ago a clip of a mariachi band singing the National Anthem at a baseball game went viral. It was right in the midst of a firestorm surrounding comments from a certain billionaire running for President who has enough hubris to hand out to the entire country and still come out leading the nation with it. The fact that he had insulted millions of people did not bother him and appeared to strengthen his campaign in fact. But as I watched that clip a thought struck me. It applies to both that billionaire and to you and me. On a one to one basis I don’t think as a country we really understand each other much anymore. We are quicker with an insult than a helping hand. Quicker with an assumption about people we don’t know because we have never tried to get to know them.
As I watched that mariachi band, dressed in their elaborate charros and singing an amazing rendition of the anthem I thought it such a telling contrast. Here was a group employing the style, the instruments, the flair of one culture, and using it on one of the most symbolic measures of unity for a country, the national anthem. Americans all, unified. I felt in its own small way that this is precisely what we needed more of right now. Johnny Cash once sang “there’s things that will never be right I know.” Which is true, but collectively that idea should frighten us, and challenge us to prove it wrong. Instead it seems we have accepted it, just like we do with ‘the news’ we get from dubious sources.
I called this blog Faded America not to sound unpatriotic, and not to belittle all the good that millions of people from all walks of life do in this country every day. There are people working hard to make a difference. Yet despite that, to me it feels like we are losing steam collectively. Can we get it back? Frankly yes, I think we can but we need to lose the anger. To listen and not shout. To stop pretending we are experts on a subject and ridicule the people who actually are like scientists and doctors. To learn and not make assumptions and broad condemnations based on ignorance. We can do that but we have to do it small scale in our one on one interactions with people. Music and sports can be some of the best icebreakers there are. So one time, one night let’s crack open a beer, play some music by one of the best bands in America and talk about moving forward again. Not a fading but a shining America.
One Time, One Night-Written By David Hidalgo & Louie Perez
Follow Me on Facebook-https://www.facebook.com/SoundtrackPhoto
Follow Me On Twitter-https://twitter.com/SoundtrackPhoto
Follow Me On Instagram-https://instagram.com/soundtrackphoto/
All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle
SHARES AND LIKES APPRECIATED!