Down to the River

I don’t know this world that he describes at all. Not by color, not by education, not by work, not by time. Oh, I worked on farms, in a factory, but I was never connected to a farming community, a factory community the way he implies. And I was always expected to progress; to work hard; to save, fall in debt and get a post-secondary education.

And I can only imagine the walloping that would have taken place if I’d gotten a girl pregnant when I was 17. (when I graduated high school).

For my lefty friends, a lovely version of Bruce Springsteen’s The River:

And a version that includes a nice story:

“Me and my dad used to go at it all the time… over almost anything”.


But it was amazing. Between 17 and 21, it was astonishing how much my Dad learned.


2 Responses to “Down to the River”

  1. Sam Adams says:

    wolfe, great song. It describes a class division you didn’t experience, which was certainly to your benefit. But I’m curious why you dedicate this to your lefty friends?

    It’s been my experience that my friends who knocked up high school sweeties and went to work in manual labor are most often conservative.

    I grew up poor. My grandparents on both sides in the late 30’s loaded up the truck and came to Californee during the Depression. My father’s family came from Oklahoma — yes, they were Depression-era Okies. My mother’s side was nearly the same, except they came from Iowa.

    And they they were all Republican all their lives. (Except my dad, who changed to Democrat in the 60’s, which they considered rebellious, but knowing my dad, he did it from his conscience, because the Democrats were at the forefront of civil rights.)

    All of my grandparents had low aspirations for their children other than to “work hard” with absolutely no higher educational goals for their children other than to graduate from high school and look for opportunities.

    Dude, I’m not offended and I’m not criticizing. Not at all. I’m just curious what you meant.

  2. wolfe says:

    I’ll answer Sam’s direct question, but give me a little latitude to chat.

    @Sam More accurately, I “experienced” the class division, but I certainly didn’t live it. As you say, that was to my benefit. Pretty much everything I experienced in my life — having grown up what some call “biracial” (I don’t like the term; there is one race, the human race; and, laughably, I look mighty white, and have never used affirmative action), I also grew up largely outside the United States thanks to my Dad’s service.

    I do sometimes feel like “The Other” when I look at the US. This can be an advantage sometimes, and a disadvantage other times. Certainly my politics don’t fit neatly into any category.

    You’re dead right that probably 90% of the people that Springsteen is singing about were Reagan voters in ’84. And 60% of them were probably W voters in ’04.

    I’ll try not to take the approach my Dad does where he’ll say “Remember the Boer War? And the British approach to…” and I’ll say (fake stoner preppie manque accent) “Dude! You weren’t even born”.

    (And no, not a shot at your use of Dude, which I only just consciously noticed! Simply not a term I usually use, but I like your use of it and I use it similarly with my Dad, albeit only in an affected way.)

    So I won’t say “Remember the hard hats for Nixon?”. (Because I wasn’t born, but I’m still tempted to type it that way). But note the hard hats for Nixon. Same deal. Similarly, IIRC, (too lazy to check) AFL-CIO supported Nixon. Granted, Nixon was more a conservative on foreign policy and a traditional progressive Republican domestically.

    The civil rights situation is much more complex than the simplistic “Democrats supported it” and evil Republicans didn’t it; by contrast, Republicans generally consistently supported it, but… Ah there isn’t enough time to address this point properly. Briefly, I agree the Southern Strategy moved Republicans towards a darker place (though not TO a darker place), and that there were a number of things one could find contemptible about the Republican Party in the period 1936-197x. (and beyond of course, it’s just those dates leap out in my mind).

    All of my grandparents had low aspirations for their children other than to “work hard”

    But that’s not a “low aspiration”.

    Granted I was very lucky to have a mother — and, unusually in my situation, a father who massively valued education.

    Dude, I’m not offended and I’m not criticizing. Not at all. I’m just curious what you meant.

    Dude! (irony tags on).

    Simple, basically. Sadly. OK, not so simple actually, because I’m going to give a multi-paragraph response. This kind of gets back to Laura Ingraham’s [conservative radio talk show host] trenchantly titled book, “Shut up and Sing”. Cleverly, this was adopted as the title for a (leftist?) film about the Dixie Chicks controversy.

    Miss Ingraham’s concept was that entertainers should do just that: spend a lot more time entertaining and a lot less time pontificating on subjects they knew nothing about. She didn’t at all (common fallacy) want to deny anyone first amendment rights; she simply pointed out that entertainers were alienating anywhere from a third to 60% of their potential customers.

    This struck a chord with many conservatives. Granted Miss Ingraham was a tad hypocritical in that I don’t recall her heavily criticizing Britney Spears for her vapid yet fervent declaration of support for President Bush “because he was like you know the President guy? So we should like listen carefully and do what he says”? (Quote entirely manufactured by me, but it’s not THAT far off what she said. Since it’s an admission against the interests of my own ‘side’, I think permissible).

    But she was right. Celebrities were making astonishingly smug and ignorant declarations about things they really knew nothing about.

    And that’s sort of where we get to Mr. Springsteen.

    Mr. Springsteen is an ardent Democrat, even an activist.

    It has sadly become very difficult for me to completely separate that from his music.

    Perhaps my loss, but I will note his sharp criticism of the Reagan campaign back in ’84 for “daring” to use his song “Born in the USA” and his more recent activities.

    I readily admit to perhaps being overly politicized at times, and that may be one of them.

    I also note my “lefty friends” remark was definitely meant gently, and with respect.


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