Sunday, September 16, 2018

How I wrote the song “Black and White”

Mr. P's latest home recording is a song of defiance in the face of the "Swift-boating" of truth, happiness and the American way, penned during the summer of 2004, which, when you consider it, runs an ugly parallel to what is going on now, where a well-honed, well-funded right-wing propaganda machine props up another dubious (perhaps illegitimate) regime.

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HOW I Wrote the Song "Black and White"

ASIDE #1: Before I kick this off, I could’ve sworn I wrote about “Black and White” way back when I first did some roughed-up recording of the tune in 2004. But if there is an old recording with notes somewhere, it’s long lost now. So here’s the “How I wrote it” one more time (think of it as an encore!), with apologies if you’ve heard this one before.

Right. 2004. The presidential campaign. Bush v Kerry. It was painful that summer, watching John Kerry get Swift-boated by the proto-fascist cranky old white brigade marketed as the “veterans for truth.” Truth. Right.

In an ironic juxtaposition we had, in one corner, a multiple-decorated war hero who did his time a-soldiering in the shit storm that was Vietnam, and, in the other, a man who may or may not have fulfilled his military obligations with the vaunted Texas Air National Guard, scourge of bathers in the Rio Grande and cattle smugglers (presumably). Depends on which side you believe. Black. Or White?

I digress. What I saw that summer was that the fix was in, in as much that the Bush administration and its lackeys were going to everything possible within and without the “truth” to make sure to re-elect the boy-who-would-be-president. Including pillorying a war hero. No longer was it enough to be a decorated veteran. Now you had to be on the "right side" on the home front or you were a traitor. Kerry spoke out against the war he fought in, pissing off a bunch of apologists for war crimes committed during that war of choice. Yet Kerry was the bad guy. Black. White.

ASIDE #2: Do NOT even attempt to think of those days during Bush II ("The Return of the Nativists") as the good ol’ days, especially when comparing them to the catastrophe that is the current administration/Congress/proto-fascist regime. Those days were equally shitty in terms of bad actors grifting the American people to sell us wars we didn’t want, tax cuts for people who didn’t need them, more conservative wankers on SCOTUS, the deregulation of business, banks (that went well, didn't it?), Earth-killing industries, with a sprinkling of so-called compassionate conservatism tossed in to sweeten up the fact that these people gave not a damn for anyone but their own (wave to the nice people drowning in the 9th Ward, Mr. President) 

...Aw, hell, it was like a Trump regime in a Petri dish, an earlier version of what metastasized into today’s foul disease.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. This song. Anyway, I was growing despondent that any succor for the American people was being Swift-boated into oblivion, and I started to lose faith. But then I stopped wallowing and reevaluated the situation. And I got defiant. I thought, “You can do your worst, but I am still going to fight you. I'm still going to call you on your bullshit. I'm gonna vote.”

And that’s what “Black and White” is all about. No matter how crappy the situation, how long your shot is, how high the deck is stacked against you, against your beliefs, against the candidate you support, against common sense – you fight. You fight bigots and big-money and hypocrites and a system rigged to empower (old white male) assholes and you do it by voting. Don’t accept their bullshit. Speak out. And vote.

That is how this song came to be. In defiance. As a call to arms. 

“I won’t do what you tell me, and I’ll rub you the wrong way . For what you’re trying to sell me, I won’t pay.” Nope. Rather: “I’ll take up the fight.”

And vote.

Pledge to vote at the link below and see what you can do to help your local candidate get elected and kick those Trump apparatchiks and apologists into orbit. Maybe they can join the Space Force. 
Voter information:

Finally, a word about the way this recording SOUNDS. I didn't set out to make a Wall of Sound version of "Black and White," quite the opposite. But when the sounds you are making veer off in another direction, you best catch up before the damn song runs away from you! Plus -- and this is either creepy or maybe it was just my muse helping me out -- when I recorded the guitar solo, I did it without any effects. When I played it back to hear what I had done, the software had, on its own initiative, run the track through a pair of plug-ins I had never used before. The sound you hear is the un-edited version of a sound that appeared on its own

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Black and White
The newspaper came today, it was black and white 
And everything people say, it’s black and white 
Do I dare to differ? Do I dodge and defer? 
Would it make any difference if I let my voice be heard? 
Night and day, day and night, black and white 

I turned on the TV, it was black and white 
As far as the eye can see, it’s black and white 
Do I change the channel? Or crash out on my couch? 
Would it do that much damage if I passed out on my watch? 
Night and day, day and night . . . 

I know it’s a vengeful world, indignant, anaesthetized
Practically Medieval, but I’ve got a surprise
I won’t do what you tell me, and I’ll rub you the wrong way 
For what you’re trying to sell me, I won’t pay 
Day and night, night and day 

I’ll start revolutions, I’ll take up the fight 
And if your weak constitution needs a quick re-write
I’ve pen and paper, and a dose of Common Sense
You may like what you say, sir, but you’re only fooling yourself
Night and day, day and night, black and white 
Night and day, day and night, black and white