America the Beautiful, by David Rovics


This video from the USA is called Falmouth Historic Society & Katherine Lee Bates.

More than a century after the original poem America the Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates, a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an anti-imperialist, now David Rovics‘ take.

From Rovics’ Songwriter’s Notebook:

Monday, February 3, 2014

“America the Beautiful”

Here’s my contribution to the discussion resulting from Coca-Cola‘s multilingual “America the Beautiful” Superbowl commercial. Dedicated to whatever disgusting corporation runs the Live95.5 pop music station that my daughter and her little friends that we drive to school with most days like to listen to.

“America the Beautiful”

America is beautiful but it’s got a lot of ugly people
I heard one of them this morning on the radio
He interrupted the pop music programming
To tell us what he thought we needed to know
He said America is an English-speaking country
And that Coke commercial was just all wrong
You can’t interrupt an all-American football game
To have little brown girls sing an all-American song

He said America is beautiful but it’s only got one language
The one we inherited from the King
Although the king himself spoke German and the French helped us overthrow him
But I still don’t want to hear those girls sing
He said it and I wondered if it reminded him
Of his grandparents who were probably refugees
From Finland or Italy or Lithuania
Or perhaps from Belarus or Germany

Or perhaps they came from Ireland where they fought for generations
To try to speak the language of their birth
And now their red-faced son is shouting English is the language
In this little stolen corner of the Earth
Not Navajo or Lakota, not Tagalog or Spanish
But the language of those who came out on top
Not the language of the conquered or the ones who were here first
But the language of the ones who run the shop

America is beautiful, it would be silly to deny it
If you’ve seen the forests or the mountains capped with snow
But as I left my Japanese wife to drive to the French school
With a carpool full of gorgeous kids in tow
Who all sang along to Katy Perry and then listened to this bigot
Tell us this is an English-speaking nation
I don’t know what the kids thought but I said this guy’s a fascist
And we all agreed to change the station.

See also here.

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One thought on “America the Beautiful, by David Rovics

  1. Pingback: USA: poetess Katharine Lee Bates was feminist, lesbian, Christian socialist, and anti-imperialist | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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