Soundtrack Of A Photograph-Faded America

“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.

IMG_0762

One Time, One Night-Written By David Hidalgo & Louie Perez

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

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26 thoughts on “Soundtrack Of A Photograph-Faded America

  1. I had a quick look over this piece Robert and it’s quite good as well as being obviously heartfelt. I often have a love-hate attitude toward this country. Luckily I have been able to travel a little, both in this country and abroad.

    We (You and I, our friends and family) often lament about what I call “First World Problems”. If you’re even a little aware, this makes you feel guilty. Suffice to say we don’t walk 5 or 10 miles a day with a jerrycan to a mud puddle for our water like millions of people in this world do.

    All we can do is be vigilant, try to avoid apathy, ( regardless of how much NYC cultivates it) Do little things to make the world better without making yourself crazy. Even if you and I were multi-billionaires, we can’t fix all this country or world’s ills.

    I got to meet Los Lobos back in the 80s. Super Cool guys. I’d recommend you checking out The Plugz, and Los Cruzados (sic) Armando has some of their stuff.

    I am also reminded of the David Bowie song “This is not America” performed with the Pat Metheny group from the film “The Falcon and The Snowman” My mom was a huge Pat Metheny fan.

    Keep on Keeping On My Brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Scott, you are very correct in what you say about the apathy and doing the little things. Which is why I really feel we need to work on communicating with one another again. Not easy, but it’s the only way I feel. On the other side of it, how cool that you met them! I will definitely check those other groups out. I remember that song, and that movie The Falcon and The Snowman very well! Thanks so much for the comment!

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  2. Very moving post here. Your frustration is shared by many right now as evidences, like you say, in the news and in politics. I think more of us just need to be good stand up human beings and work together to solve problems instead of doing everything possible to find more problems. I get frustrated with our politicians who seem to be doing just that right now. Finding problems and getting in the way instead of being adults and coming to the table with solutions. Anyway, thanks for making me think…and all because of a song whose lyrics I can’t say i had ever paid much attention to before. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I agree with what you say. I am guilty of a lot of the things I mentioned but really trying to solve problems is the key to what we need to do I think. I share the same frustrations! Thanks for the comments. Los Lobos rules. Few bands improve as they get older but they are definitely one. Cheers and sorry for the late reply. Seems like there was a glitch!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You articulated this so well. It’s disconcerting, but even more than the still-relevant-40-years-later lyrics, is that this is how it’s always been and always will be. Newton’s Third Law doesn’t just apply to physics, but to life and society as well. For there to be peace, there must be war; for love, hate; for security, violence. We wouldn’t know the euphoria of love if we didn’t also know the pain of hate; just as so, we wouldn’t know the pain of hate if we didn’t have the euphoria of love. They are dependent, otherwise they would both cease to exist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. That is a very substantial reply. I had to read it twice to fully take it in. And you are right I am sorry to say. I never really thought about it but that dichotomy is very real when you think about it like that. I threw the Johnny Cash song quote in there because I know we will never get to that kind of Utopian dream. Watching a Star Trek last night I said to my wife, there never will be a time when that will happen, when all the guns are put away, when no one is homeless, or there is no war, or money doesn’t control everything. It is a sobering thought. However, it doesn’t make me want to stop trying. Thanks for such a great and thought provoking response.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You made me wax philosophical this morning. That’s quality writing there.
        I’d like to believe that there will be a day when all the guns are put away, but we will still have fists.
        And we shouldn’t stop trying. It’s what makes the world go round. If we stop loving, hate takes over and we all lose everything (up to and including our lives).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I like that-fighting with our fists only. Here’s to that. No question we shouldn’t stop trying and what you said is exactly why. Waxing poetical is a good thing isn’t it? Although maybe best with a gallon of coffee by your side!

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  5. This was wonderfully written and expressed, Robert! I think there are many of us in this country who feel the same as you do. The fact that media dictates our thoughts and feelings is a huge part of the problem. You pretty much summed up my own personal thoughts on the state of our country. We are most definitely not at our best right now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tasha for such a thoughtful comment. You are so right about the media. Just once I’d like to see the news just reported..nothing more, leaving it up to you to extrapolate and discuss. There is no dialogue anymore, just shouting. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t even watch the news anymore…can’t stomach it. I get all of my news online now. Even though it can be just as bias…at least I can skip over the parts I don’t want to read lol

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness! Deeply honored, thank you! I have this and a Liebster to get done now, but I gladly thank the Academy…oh sorry, wrong acceptance speech! Thank you very much seriously 🙂 I tell you for someone who hit a milestone of 50 blog posts in August and considered packing it in, I’m mighty glad I stayed with it to meet great bloggers like you. Thanks again!

      Like

  6. Robert, This is wonderful.
    Your comments are right on. Our nation, Our wonderful country is in trouble and I am afraid it is going to get worse before it gets better.
    We (Our citizens ) want and need a change so badly that they are looking in favor at someone has really nothing good to say about it. I love your comment “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, ”
    He has insult not only millions of people but our country himself.
    I have a few friends overseas and they are say people are “Laughing at us once again.”
    Do we really want a President who can’t respect his own people?
    If he doesn’t respect any of us, how will he ever get along with the rest of the world?
    I also agree, it is THE MEDIA who is leading the way for HIM.
    They are not reporting the NEWS….they are creating it.
    When was the last time they said anything “Newsworthy about this election?
    Thanks for saying what needed to be said.
    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah for such a great response. I seldom get political on my blog. Passing references here and there but this one has really been building and it just thoroughly pissed me off the state we have gotten too. I just watched a clip from a FB friend of the shouting voices in the microphone lambasting the Pope’s agenda. The Pope! I mean really?! I completely agree with you and thank you so much for the comment. I have followed and will be checking your blog out in depth. Thanks for taking the time to comment here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am just now occasionally speaking out about some political things. I don’t like to usually.
        I am embarrassed to be a Republican right now. Or a Democrat if I was.
        It sickens me what our Country is turning into.
        Most of my posts are easy going.
        I will be back to read more of yours as well. I love your writing style.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hear you, and thank you for the compliment. It is unfortunate that battle lines are being drawn over so many issues that do NOT need to be these days. I mentioned “he who shall not be named” but I did not mean that to be a partisan attack. I wish we could agree on the main points, and disagree about the minor things. It sickens me too. I am looking forward to delving into your blog more myself. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We need more than a 2 party system. Yet, neither of the 2 major parties are ever going to let another party in.That would split things up to much. Plus they wouldn’t get as much of OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS.

        I burns me up that the taxpayers are paying for a lot of their expenses when we can’t even watch the debates ON Free TV. Some of us….Many of us Do not have cable/
        For someone who usually doesn’t talk politics I can’t seem to stop talking about it.
        Good night.

        Like

  7. Hi Robert! I came to read this post of yours after you had ‘revived’ it on Facebook. It is a well written heart-felt piece. Well done!
    As a Brit I lament what is happening in your once-great country. I love America and have traveled there many, many times. Where have all the great leaders gone? Not just in your country but Britain and the rest of the world.
    It saddens me. I hate to think what the world will be like in the next 20-30 years even though I doubt I will be around to witness it.
    It would be good to crack open a beer with you and play some music 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Steve. I have a lot of British friends who are in general none too pleased about Britain as well. I think there are some great leaders but everyone is mired in this nastiness prevalent today. It is sad. Thanks for the comment

      Liked by 1 person

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