If you own the United States release of George Michael’s Symphonica CD, you’ve heard first rate performances of his own music, and some standards. Mr. Michael’s cover of Feeling Good is the best I’ve heard yet, although some people insist Michael Buble and Nina Simone nailed it, too (Wait until you’ve heard George Michael sing it before you get too confident about anyone else’s interpretation).
My compact disc of Symphonica is missing one song which I believe consumers in Europe are hearing. It’s on YouTube, and I’ll share it at the end of this post. The YouTube uploader, georgemichaelVEVO, attributes the song to the album, and Mr. Michael’s clothing and personal style suggest that’s correct.
Going to a Town (written by Rufus Wainwright, a Canadian) expresses disappointment with the way the George W. Bush Administration persuaded Tony Blair to involve the U.K. in the Second Gulf War, and the way the news media failed to challenge the lies (“Sunday Times” and “Nursery Rhymes” go together surprisingly well in song lyrics). The song doesn’t tear into the United States in general, but it’s clear how a misguided war effort can ruin a country’s standing with allies — and the rest of the world.
It’s common knowledge that Prime Minister Blair made a commitment to the war when more than fifty percent of his constituents opposed it. At that time, the Bush Administration was lying about Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, having Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), and also lying about Saddam Hussein having a role in the September 11 attacks.
Sadly, Americans were less likely to question the lies because the September 11 attacks had left most Americans’ heads spinning. Our government exploited the traumatized mental states of its citizens. The Bush Administration might as well have been manipulative, abusive parents/spouses — or kidnappers using Stockholm Syndrome to their advantage. They demanded loyalty from people who didn’t feel independent enough to resist, and they got it.
I won’t underestimate Saddam Hussein’s evil. However, our Armed Forces did not have a compelling reason to invade his country and overthrow his government. The world is full of Heads of State who are as rotten as Saddam Hussein, but he was singled out without good cause. He had invaded Kuwait in the early 1990s, but that issue was resolved in the First Gulf War. In the early 2000s, there was no new international crisis involving Iraq’s government.
The Bush Administration was seeking an excuse to invade Iraq, and the tragedy suffered by thousands on Sept. 11, 2001 was exploited to sway public opinion. Educated people all over the world know it, and that’s what Going to a Town is about. I’m sorry if the people who made U.S. marketing decisions for the Symphonica CD found it unwise to remind Americans of the truth.
At least it’s easy enough for Americans to find performances of George Michael’s Shoot the Dog. The availability isn’t right in our faces, but it’s out there for anyone who cares to look. Shoot the Dog is a lot less delicate than Going to a Town, but it helps the most frustrated enlightened people vent their angst regarding the same issues.
Going to a Town is a song most Americans probably aren’t even supposed to know about. We should know about it, and anyone who says, “George Michael wasn’t entitled to an opinion because he wasn’t an American” should recall the suffering of his country’s citizens after Tony Blair inexplicably cooperated with Dubya. We might also consider the suffering of servicemembers and civilians in the Middle East, who didn’t ask for any of that crap. Historians will have theories on how this U.S. – U.K. agreement was reached in the first place, but we may never know the whole story.
PATRIOTISM IS SUPPORTING YOUR COUNTRY ALL THE TIME, AND YOUR GOVERNMENT WHEN IT DESERVES IT.
— MARK TWAIN