Today’s song: Mountains O’Things

Listening this morning to Tracy Chapman’s great ‘Mountains O’Things’.  It really is a song for our times,  questioning our need to consume so many things, and to find meaning in consumption. What I like about the song is that it isn’t just a rant against the rich, but it’s about us all and about an economic system and culture that keeps us in its thrall.

The life I’ve always wanted
I guess I’ll never have
I’ll be working for somebody else
Until I’m in my grave
I’ll be dreaming of a live of ease
And mountains
Oh mountains o’ things

To have a big expensive car
Drag my furs on the ground
And have a maid that I can tell
To bring me anything
Everyone will look at me with envy and with greed
I’ll revel in their attention
And mountains
Oh mountains o’ things

Sweet lazy life
Champagne and caviar
I hope you’ll come and find me
Cause you know who we are
Those who deserve the best in life
And know what money’s worth
And those whose sole misfortune
Was having mountains o’ nothing at birth

Oh they tell me
There’s still time to save my soul
They tell me
Renounce all
Renounce all those material things you gained by
Exploiting other human beings

Consume more than you need
This is the dream
Make you pauper
Or make you queen
I won’t die lonely
I’ll have it all prearranged
A grave that’s deep and wide enough
For me and all my mountains o’ things

Mostly I feel lonely
Good good people are
Good people are only
My stepping stones
It’s gonna take all my mountains o’ things
To surround me
Keep all my enemies away
Keep my sadness and loneliness at bay

The life I’ve always wanted
I guess I’ll never have
I’ll be working for somebody else
Until I’m in my grave
I’ll be dreaming of a live of ease
And mountains
Oh mountains o’ things

I’ll be dreaming, dreaming…
Dreaming…

The song dates back to 1988 and Tracy Chapman’s eponymous debut album. From the pinpoint clarity of ‘Why’ (“Why are all the missiles called peacekeepers when they’re aimed to kill”) to ‘Mountains O’Things’ and ‘Across The Lines’, Tracy Chapman stood out as a radical, challenging voice in the era of George Bush Snr. The production (at her insistence) was sparse, simple and clean. This is the album that contains her most popular song, ‘Fast Car’ that focusses sharply on social class and poverty in contemporary America and the heart-breaking acapella of ‘Behind the Wall’. The album’s opening track, ‘Talkin’ About A Revolution’ is as relevant today as it ever was: “They’re standing in the welfare lines, crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation”.  A truly remarkable album.

Mountains O’Things: live

Talkin’ Bout A Revolution: Live on Arte TV

Why: montage

An excellent montage of images set to ‘Why?’

Why do the babies starve
When there’s enough food to feed the world
Why when there’re so many of us
Are there people still alone

Why are the missiles called peace keepers
When they’re aimed to kill
Why is a woman still not safe
When she’s in her home

Love is hate
War is peace
No is yes
And we’re all free

But somebody’s gonna have to answer
The time is coming soon

Amidst all these questions and contradictions
There’re some who seek the truth

But somebody’s gonna have to answer
The time is coming soon
When the blind remove their blinders
And the speechless speak the truth

Fast Car: live

Across The Lines: Live Amnesty International

The Times They Are A-Changin’: Bob Dylan Tribute, 1992

Related – one of the best quotes from the Credit Crunch:

Warren Buffett: “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.”

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