Thursday, May 25, 2006

The one on the right is on the Left

1. From Uncanny, a user-friendly guide to late-breaking Beach Boys news and gossip, word that the National Review has ranked "Wouldn't It Be Nice" as the Fifth Most Conservative rock song of all time. I'm especially interested in the designation of the songs as "most conservative" rather than "the best songs advocating a conservative ideology," if in fact that's what they do, (Not to ruin the suspense, but the Stones are at #3 with "Sympathy for the Devil," a choice that would probably come as a shock to any time-travelling right-wingers from the late sixties.) The full list won't be available for a few more days, but I've got my fingers crossed for Paul Anka and "Havin' My Baby" for the top honors.

2. All of which reminds me that I forgot to post a link to this Bush/Cheney parody set to the tune of the Boys' "Barbara Ann" when my friend first told me about it a few weeks ago. I had a whole lot to say about the video when I watched it, but I've lost the urge to vent for the time being.

What's weird about item #1 is blatantly obvious. (Again, I'm supressing the strong desire to go on about this for several thousand words. Feel free to do so yourself if you like; that's what the internet is for, right?) What's weird about item #2 is that it brings back unhappy memories of the last time I heard "Barbara Ann" become "Bomb Iran," way back during the hostage crisis that gave the world Ted Koppel--only back then it was being used by folks who thought the reworked title phrase was a good idea. In other words, it only had one layer of ironic distance, not two.

And I have to say, I can't really stomach either version. Not because they desecrate a timeless classic; I've always found that song fairly annoying, even more so now that I realize its early and key role in transforming the band from musical innovators into an oldies act. (People do tend to forget that the Beach Boys' rendition was itself a self-conscious/jokey/ironic cover version of an older song that already sounded quaintly dated when they recorded it.) No, the problem is just that the parodies are both so damn obvious, no matter what the agenda behind them and no matter how many levels of irony they invite.

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