Monday, October 14, 2013

Musical Monday - Your Love Is (a Metaphor) by Paul & Storm

With today being Columbus Day, a day that has become less glorious as awareness of the ugliness of history has become more widespread, I figured that a humorous song making wildly inappropriate metaphors about love involving Christopher Walken and settlers bringing smallpox and influenza to the new world would be the perfect choice for Musical Monday.

This is one of my favorite Paul & Storm songs, and like so many of their other songs it captures the truly ridiculous nature of most mainstream music. All of the metaphors in this song are perfectly valid, and at the same time every one of them is incredibly wrong. In the context of the song, comparing love to an entomologist jabbing a needle through one's guts, or a ship being sunk and having its bones picked at by crabs, or a dog captured by an underground dog fighting ring and tortured daily until death holds no meaning are all perfectly logical comparisons to make. But, of course, in the real world these comparisons are simply not ones that one would ever make. Even though they are logical, and make sense, they are simply socially unacceptable, and using them results in hilarity.

And from a certain perspective, that is exactly why the myth of Christopher Columbus was allowed to flourish for so long. Although, in this case, the result isn't hilarity, but rather the organized suppression of unpleasant facts. The actual truth is painful and ugly. Columbus "found" a land already occupied by hundreds of thousands of people, attempted to extort gold from them, and when that didn't work, used his superior technology to brutally slaughter many of them and carried many of the rest away into slavery. And as a side effect, he brought deadly diseases that ended up wiping out much of the native population across the entire continent. But that's not the history that has been taught to children in schools, because it is uncomfortable to think that our civilization is built upon the bones of abused natives callously annihilated by by people extolled as heroes. So reality was systemically subsumed to a culturally acceptable narrative.

Fortunately, we are moving beyond suppressing the reality of our history. Slowly but surely the actual history, in all of its unpleasant details, is gaining ground. We can't change the horrible things that were done by our ancestors, but we can at least acknowledge that they were done, and accurately tell the stories of the people who have hitherto been ignored.

Previous Musical Monday: The Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
Subsequent Musical Monday: Ramble On by Led Zeppelin

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