Christmas in Washington: A Song About Heroes

Merry Christmas to our readers who celebrate the holiday.  Today’s Christmas song is “Christmas in Washington” by Steve Earle.  The song first appeared on his El Corazón (1997) album, which is one of my all-time favorite records.

As Earle explains in this Austin, Texas performance from 2000, the song is about some of his heroes.  Written in the wake of President Bill Clinton’s election in 1996, Earle explains his longing for real progressive change.  He invokes the names of people like Woody Guthrie, Emma Goldman, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

It has been more than twenty years since Earle wrote the song.  But it seems even more timely this holiday season.

There’s foxes in the hen house;
Cows out in the corn;
The unions have been busted,
Their proud red banners torn;
To listen to the radio
You’d think that all was well;
But you and me and Cisco know
It’s going straight to hell.

Happy holidays.

Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Springsteen Joins U2 at Madison Square Garden

    On Friday, Bruce Springsteen showed up at U2’s concert at Madison Square Garden to help out the band with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Then, they followed that up with a version of Ben E. King’s classic, “Stand By Me.”

    The show was the final night of U2’s eight-show run at the Garden as part of their Innocence and Experience Tour, which will begin its second leg in Europe. So far, U2 has welcomed a number of guests on this tour, including Lady Gaga and Jimmy Fallon and the Roots. Below, check out Bono and Springsteen performing two great rock songs.

    Reportedly, the power of the Boss and Bono were enough to get everyone to stand in the audience, including Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Hands Across America: Holding Hands in May 1986

    May 25 is the anniversary of 1986’s Hands Across America. For those of you too young to remember, Hands Across America is something that people did before we had the Internet. Americans across the United States gathered to hold hands in an attempt to create a 4,125-mile human chain from coast-to-coast through seventeen states.

    They held hands for about fifteen minutes, sang the “Hands Across America” theme song (recorded by Voices of America), “America the Beautiful,” and “We Are the World,” which had been released a year earlier in 1985. And this event occurred in the days before we had hand sanitizer.

    Hands Across America,
    Hands Across this land I love;
    United we fall,
    United we stand,
    Hands Across America.

    Did it succeed? Well, the chain ended up with broken places in several barren areas. But millions of people across the country, including many famous celebrities, gathered that day for the event.

    President Reagan held hands in Washington, connected at least theoretically, to Texas migrant farm workers who organized a 51-mile chain in Texas. The chain included Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Jesse Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Rev. Billy Graham, Prince, Bill Clinton, Kenny Rogers, and Shamu the killer whale. There is even a book about the day.

    The event did not reach its goal to raise $50 million for the hungry, and the promotion costs were high, but it raised around $20 million for soup kitchens and shelters, while raising awareness about the issue. And it gave us something to do.

    Yes, I say “us” because I participated in the event. I was on a trip traveling through Arizona on that date with a group of friends. We had not planned to be in a particular spot, but when we saw the line forming in the desert (see photo above), we all jumped out of the vehicle and joined in the festivities.

    Everyone was friendly and happy for those fifteen minutes. As silly and cheesy as it was, maybe we should do it more often.

    See these people over there?
    They are my brother and sister,
    When they laugh I laugh,
    When they cry I cry,
    When they need me I’ll be there by their side

    Photo by Chimesfreedom. Were you there for Hands Across America? Leave a comment.

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