Ear worms and El Supremos

In Donald Trump, Las Vegas, Show Biz Kids, Steely Dan by [email protected]

Sometimes I get an ear worm that seems particularly relevant to my life at that moment in time. I’m sure this happens to a lot of people. It’s slightly less annoying than just having an insipid, meaningless song haunting your every waking minute. Sometimes it can even be quite comforting. For example, just after the 23rd June, 2016 the song going through my head was Thomas Dolby’s ‘Europa and the Pirate Twins’ –

Europa, my old friend-

We’ll be the Pirate Twins again
Europa
Oh my country.
Europa
I’ll walk beside you in the rain
Europa
Ta republique

I was very sad. But I was being sad with Thomas Dolby.

More recently for me, it’s been exclusively Steely Dan songs.

I know. I know. Ancient history. But having three children aged 11 – 15, I do have to listen to a great deal of contemporary music, so when I’m given a choice of listening, I turn to my old favourites. And Steely Dan was one of the best things about growing up in the seventies and early eighties in America.  They were intelligent, they were cool, and they were so random before randomness was appropriated by people who were being intentionally stupid.

They were interested in little things, tiny details of our daily shabby life, as well as disappointment, death, drugs, sex and taxes. And of course there was the brilliance and originality of their arrangements – their mingling of jazz and rock.

Before Christmas, as I shopped, wrapped, broke up fights, cleaned, cooked, washed up, applied make up, looked for lost tags/tape/presents/socks and organised large scale mulled wine distribution, the phrase going through my head was from ‘Black Cow’ (Aja 1977).

I don’t care anymore
Why you run around
Break away
Just when it
Seems so clear
That it’s
Over now
Drink your big black cow
And get out of here

steely dan aja cover

For reference a ‘Black Cow’, in this context, is a cocktail made of coke, cream and Khalua. Not to my taste, but any alcohol, even super sweet fantasy alcohol, is better than none when you are in the midst of the festive season and properly exhausted. And alcohol with a dose of attitude is even better.

I recovered from the holiday, and for the past two weeks I’ve had the glorious ‘Show Biz Kids’ in my head, with its catchy backing vocals:

You go to Lost Wages, Lost Wages, you go to Lost Wages.

This is not because I am chasing invoices. Although I am.

Lost Wages is a pun for Las Vegas, from a joke by Lenny Bruce.

I didn’t know that before I googled it. It was always one of those lyrics that you can’t quite work out. Box Pages, or something else deep and meaningless. I happily sang along for years.

The song goes on with this summary of a certain type of celebrity:

Show biz kids making movies
Of themselves you know they
Don’t give a fuck about anybody else

So I have now realised why this song is going through my head at this particular time – as the 20th January 2017 approaches and it has become clear that no one is going to stop Trump becoming the actual, real, honest-to-God President of the United States.

Donald Trump – the celeb, show biz star, casino owner and tycoon epitomises the widespread belief that the appearance or the promise of goodness and success is so much more important than the actuality of it. The obsession with perfection in appearance (particularly for women) is part of this phenomenon, as is a type of reality tv performance combined with conspicuous consumption that is designed to make us admire what the celebrity has, rather than what they have done.

The aspirational part of this is a powerful force. It appeals to the risk taking side of us all. The person who wants to believe in something that is too good to be true. The person who doesn’t want facts. The Gambler.

‘Look’ – says Trump, the arch fact-unraveller, ‘it can all be so great.  You can win. Win BIG, and I can make it happen.’

It is the same false promise made to everyone who enters a glittering casino in Las Vegas with its glamorous staff and plentiful drinks, and leaves without their wages.

I have no wish to spend many more words on Trump. He is over described already.

But it is so clear to me that he is only in this for himself. That in all he has done, his self aggrandisement and business ventures, his bullying, belittling behaviour, his outrageous lies and his willingness to use women against their will, he has sought pleasure, power and money at the expense of those who are weaker and lack influence.

He certainly doesn’t seem to give a fuck about anybody else.

The fact that so many Americans thought this was an appropriate quality for the President of The United States is hard to take. But then when we look to history, it is littered with men like him who convinced people that through brutality they could get the change they wanted. That to make change you need a hard man, a strong man. That the people who suffer from the brutality will be people on the outside, not the inside. (Celts in the past – Mexicans or Muslims today.) And that they deserve to suffer because they are bad, nasty people.

But the truth will be different.

Inevitably, the facts will come.

And like fanatical bailiffs, they will extract profit for Trump, and the other ‘El Supremos’ of the world, from everyone.

‘Show Biz Kids’       from Countdown to Ecstasy 1972

Show Biz Kids

CHORUS:
While the poor people sleepin’
With the shade on the light
While the poor people sleepin’
All the stars come out at night

After closing time
At the Guernsey Fair
I detect the El Supremo
From the room at the top of the stairs
Well I’ve been around the world
And I’ve been in the Washington Zoo
And in all my travels
As the facts unravel
I’ve found this to be true

CHORUS

They got the house on the corner
With the rug inside
They got the booze they need
All that money can buy
They got the shapely bods
They got the Steely Dan T-shirt
And for the coup-de-gras
They’re outrageous

CHORUS

Show biz kids making movies
Of themselves you know they
Don’t give a fuck about anybody else

CHORUS

Writer/s: DONALD JAY FAGEN, WALTER CARL BECKER
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind