Earlier that day, over lunch:
Me (hearing “Born in the U.S.A.” over the restaurant P.A. system): How on earth did those Republican knuckleheads hear this song and decide it was a patriotic anthem?
He: It makes total sense. Their whole rhetorical m.o. involves not fully understanding what they’re quoting, and then completely revising what the original means when they’re found out.
Okay, fine. It’s the same kind of revisions that are worked by television advertising all the time, when a song like this is used to plug a product like this. (The revised meaning of which seems to become — what? — I haven’t had sex in years, so I’m buying a really big car?)
But the impulse toward this kind of lyrical revisionism just became too much that night, on our dinner cruise — and yes, yes, the ironies, given the reading I’m doing this week — after a pleasant half-hour standing at the rail, watching Waikiki drift by. As we walked back into the dining room to pay the lovely young man who’d kept us supplied with Mai Tais for the evening, I suddenly felt uneasy, unsettled, nervous, wrong. Took a moment to take stock: no, I have everything I came with; no, I’m not feeling ill; no, there doesn’t appear to be disaster looming just ahead.
It required a few moments to sink in. Literally. First, I noticed the really bad rendition being done by the man at the synthesizer and the woman at the mike. Then, I recognized that this was a bad rendition of a song that I hated in the first place. It’s that whatsername song, gee, you know, the Canadian chick who’s always — yeah, Celine, right. From that movie, you know…
I ask you — seriously, tell me if it’s just me — but is this an appropriate song to be playing on board?
Okay, sure, it’s about a love that survives even death, even an icy cold watery death — but see, there’s that whole death part, and the water, and gee, look, we’re on a boat! In the water!
It’s not revisionism. It’s just flat not paying attention.