Dancing with the devil or rockin' in the free world?

Is America rockin' in the free world?

Often it's the little things you notice.

Amidst a world in chaos and constant crisis I find myself staring blankly at a newspaper article about musician Neil Young suing Donald Trump for the repeated use of his song "Rockin' in the Free World" during the President's campaign rallies.

There are so many reasons why this is improbable that it is hard to know where to begin.

Let's ease into it gently.

The song opens with a driving anthemic beat and classic Young guitar riff that would suit a big arena spectacle, getting the baying masses' adrenalin pumping.

So far, so good.

The opening lines "There's colours on the street, red, white and blue." Good, good... sort of patriotic at face value.

But that must have been where the rally organisers (who's in charge of music?) left it, because the following lines are "there's a warning sign on the road ahead, there's a lot of people saying we'd be better off dead."

Given more that a thousand people a day are dying of coronavirus in the US that seems a weirdly inappropriate choice of song, don't you think?

Maybe Trump relates to the following lines: "Don't feel like Satan, but I am to them, so I try to forget it anyway I can."

By verse two, Young is relating the all-American feel-good story about a woman dumping her child in a garbage can. "There's one more kid that will never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool."

Did someone need to point out to somebody that the refrain of this song, "Rockin' in the free world" is actually... wait for it... "ironic".

Could someone have tapped somebody on the shoulder and said, "Actually Jarred, don't want to make too big a deal of this, but this song is totally a blistering indictment of the failures of American society and the myth of the American dream."

"Hey, don't worry about it Ivanka, the people love it. Look at them all stamping their feet."

Is the choice of Young's attack on American life a metaphor for the crisis America is now facing?

Is the US, which has to its credit a great legacy of rigorous self-examination, now being consumed by only a superficial understanding of what lies before it?

Is its leadership so obtuse it is able to celebrate Young's coruscating damnation as a Yankee-doodle-dandy patriotism?

This story Is America rockin' in the free world? first appeared on The Canberra Times.