Tuesday, December 16, 2008

American Primitive Protest

The lyrics from Americana singer/songwriter Steve James' 1994 tune, Banker's Blues, are a protest against the double standards and the favors embedded in the American system for those with power and wealth. The stanza about poor people losing their homes and jobs and the callous disregard of a bank president to loss are even more relevant today than they were 14 years ago:
I saw your face on the news today; I've seen it there before
And if I'm a judge of character, I'll see it there some more
You got rich off-a worthless real estate and a-shut down oil wells
But you got friends in the government and the tax man pays your bills

You and some other criminal who stood before the bar
Your fraud it was for millions. He'd stolen a VCR
You pulled a probated sentence and a hundred thousand fine
They sent him back to Huntsville where he's serving five to nine

And while he's doin' that five-to-nine, you be headed back for more
Surrounded by tax lawyers, their greed surpasses yours
Their greed surpasses yours, I say, and a-likewise do their lies
And the victims are the old and poor whose misery you despise

You say you brook no countenance from folks like them and me
Because you have this standing in your community
You own political influence, and you're the president of a bank
And the people that lost their homes and jobs have just themselves to thank

They say it's true for people like you there's a place in hell prepared
Well, it's not for me to know these things and I shouldn't even care
Instead, I pray we meet some day in a home in heaven above
So I can see your face when you enter that place of hope and trust and love.

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