Sign in | Register now | Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014

Tue
Hi: 27
Lo: 19
Wed
Hi: 32
Lo: 23
Thu
Hi: 27
Lo: 15
Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com

Randy Newman's "I'm Dreaming of a White President" stirs the political pot

There are songwriters and there's Randy Newman.

He practices a craft that may have died with the Gershwins, if it ever existed at all. No one in the world of pop is quite like him – first-rate composition skills like Bacharach, but more like Stephen Foster in melody and harmony. His songs are throwbacks and often cover topics that could generously be described as less than current, if you stretch that to mean 100 years less than current.

He also indulges in a dying art: satire.

There will always be a portion of population that confuses him with the vile little men he portrays in his songs. By channeling the foul and untrustworthy narrators whose stories he spells out in laughably dark lyrics he is doing the opposite of career-building, he's stirring a hornet's nest while ceding popularity to the bland and auto-tuned denizens of the top 40. I'd like to think that in 50 or 100 years he will be remembered, but who knows?

On those rare occasions when Old Ran focuses on real-time events it is an event of the first magnitude. A while back his brilliant song, "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," was the darkest, funniest and truest summation of all things Bush, Cheney and neo-con. Treat yourself, it is so far beyond description I won't even try.

Well, after five years of hibernation, he is out and about with a vicious take on the presidential race. To see this on the day we learned of Romney's gaffiest gaffe, the one involving 47 percent of the country being freeloaders and non-taxpaying mooches, was certainly good timing. And the way it addresses what I believe to be the subtext and dirty little secret of the Tea Party – their fear of a black nation and hope that hysterical seniors and right-wing crazies will join in their search for the new great white hope – is hilarious and spot-on.

The title is a parody of "White Christmas," and his roll call of sterling members of that most exclusive men's club, the presidency, told from a casually racist perspective, is provocative and downright incendiary. Watch and laugh ... or cry ... below.

And why not sing along? Because this is the truest, funniest, darkest, scariest and saddest song of the season ... and you sure aren't going to hear it on the radio:

"I'm Dreaming of a White President"

George Washington was a white man
Adams and Jefferson too
Abe Lincoln was a white man, probably
And William McKinley the whitest of them all
Was shot down by an immigrant in Buffalo
And a star fell out of heaven

I'm dreaming of a white president
Just like the ones we've always had
A real live white man
Who knows the score
How to handle money or start a war
Wouldn't even have to tell me what we were fighting for
He'd be the right man
If he were a

I'm dreaming of a white president
Someone whom we can understand
Someone who knows where we're coming from
And that the law of the jungle is not the law of this land

In deepest darkest Africa nineteen three
A little boy says, "Daddy, I just discovered relativity.
A big eclipse is coming
And I'll prove it. Wait and see!"

"You better eclipse yourself outta here, son
And find yourself a tree
There's a lion in the front yard
And he knows he won't catch me."

How many little Albert Einsteins
Cut down in their prime?
How many little Ronald Reagans
Gobbled up before their time?

I don't believe in evolution
But it does occur to me,
What if little William Howard Taft had to face a lion
Or God forbid, climb a tree?
Where would this country be?

I'm dreaming of a white president
Buh buh buh buh
'Cause things have never been this bad
So he won't run the hundred in ten seconds flat
So he won't have a pretty jump shot
Or be an Olympic acrobat
So he won't know much about global warming
Is that really where you're at?
He won't be the brightest, perhaps
But he'll be the whitest
And I'll vote for that

Whiter than this?
Yes
Whiter than this?
Yes
Whiter than this?
Yes
Whiter than this?
Oh yeah

Talkbacks

Myke | Oct. 1, 2012 at 8:54 a.m. (report)

34599 I 2nd sherm174 remarks. Well put.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 3.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

sherm174 | Sept. 30, 2012 at 10:22 p.m. (report)

36456 Really OnMilwaukee? You're just letting anybody write for you now I guess. Seriously, if I wanted to read the Shepard Express or another sorry excuse for journalism I would. This guy (the author and the artist both) is clearly more racist in playing this card than the people he's attacking. Sheesh.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 3.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post your comment/review now 2 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now

Facebook comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.