Sunday, May 6, 2012

Today's Earworm


On Facespace a Canadian friend posted a visual "Cinco de Mayo" pun--jar of mayonnaise in a sink--with the comment that he had to have it explained to him. My contribution to the discussion was the observation that May 5th isn't really that big a deal in Mexico, it's just another triumph of marketing, and someone observed that so is St. Patrick's Day. The differance being, I guerss, that St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is at least a religious Holy Day; the joke used to be the Irish would go to church and then go home and turn on the telly to see what those weird Americans are doing...

(And the New York city Saint Patrick's Day Parade pre-dates the American Revolution...)

Anyway, the lyrics to The Pogue's "Thousand Are Sailing" pretty well sum up the immigrant's love-hate relationship with the land they fled, and, maybe, their ambivalent feelings towards the land they fled to...
Pogues Thousands Are Sailing Lyrics
The island it is silent now
But the ghosts still haunt the waves
And the torch lights up a famished man
Who fortune could not save

Did you work upon the railroad
Did you rid the streets of crime
Were your dollars from the white house
Were they from the five and dime

Did the old songs taunt or cheer you
And did they still make you cry
Did you count the months and years
Or did your teardrops quickly dry

Ah, no, says he, 'twas not to be
On a coffin ship I came here
And I never even got so far
That they could change my name

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
To a land of opportunity
That some of them will never see
Fortune prevailing
Across the western ocean
Their bellies full
Their spirits free
They'll break the chains of poverty
And they'll dance

In Manhattan's desert twilight
In the death of afternoon
We stepped hand in hand on Broadway
Like the first man on the moon
And "the blackbird" broke the silence
As you whistled it so sweet
And in Brendan Behan's footsteps
I danced up and down the street

Then we said goodnight to Broadway
Giving it our best regards
Tipped our hats to Mister Cohen
Dear old Times Square's favorite bard

Then we raised a glass to JFK
And a dozen more besides
When I got back to my empty room
I suppose I must have cried

Thousands are sailing
Again across the ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Postcards we're mailing
Of sky-blue skies and oceans
From rooms the daylight never sees
Where lights don't glow on Christmas trees
But we dance to the music
And we dance

Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Where e'er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
And we dance

1 comment:

CTone said...

I didn't even know what cinco de mayo was until I met my wife and found out it was her birthday. She thought I was a moron. The other day I was at a meeting, and we were all chit chatting waiting for someone to show up so we could start, and some poor sap didn't know what cinco de mayo was. . . everyone got a kick out of it. I kept my mouth shut!