I am fortunate enough to have completed my college education before the semiotics and post-structuralist craze totally took over the English departments of American universities, but the irritating vapors of Derrida, Foucault and other similar folks were already starting to seep into my beloved Beloit College when I studied there in the early 80s. Much of the theory that these guys traffic in is risible, but I've always been fond of the notion of deconstruction, which is an intellectual parlor game where one takes things from one context and tries to strip it down to its "text." Derrida, Foucault and their buddies were mostly interested in subverting any ostensible Western values in works of literature and replacing it with nothing in particular beyond their own vaguely Marxist nostrums.
I know that's not a fair summation of what they argued, but it's about as fair as what they argued about most literature. But I completely understand the allure: it's a lot of fun to take ideas, images and words and throw them into the Waring blender. A lot of what comes out can be unintelligible goo, but sometimes wonderful things can emerge from the recontextualizing.
So what does that have to do with Barack Obama? Patience, grasshopper, we're getting to that.
We've already used music to discuss the Obama campaign twice in this feature, using Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" and Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" as songs that have resonance for understanding Obamamania. The redoubtable Anonymous Truck Driver suggested R.E.M's "It's the End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine." All fine thoughts. But that's not enough for a full campaign soundtrack. And that's what I want to establish, along with a few helpful suggestions from the vast worldwide Mr. Dilettante audience.
So, to get things started, I offer a few more ideas, all of these coincidentally from 1976:
"Step Right Up," by Tom Waits, in which our favorite dissolute neo-Beatnik offers a series of promises only slightly more outlandish than some of the things one typically hears on the hustings. And the accompanying video is plenty strange, combining Waits and "The Matrix." YouTube is a Foucault playground. Change into a 9 year old Hindu boy?
"The Rubberband Man," by the Spinners. So much rhythm, grace and debonair for one man? Lord. The video, from "Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special," is just a hoot -- gotta love the 1970s.
"Golden Years," by David Bowie. Don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel. And yes, that's David Bowie on "Soul Train."
The floor is open for nominations. And if you can find silly video to go with it, even better!