18 June 2010

Single Review: "Keep the Change" by Darryl Worley

Keep The Change
Darryl Worley
Digital Release Date: 15 June 2010

"Aims for Haggard; Settles for a Bumper Sticker"

My problem with this song isn't its politics. It's with its execution. I think back on Merle Haggard's "Are the Good Times Really Over?" and "The Fightin' Side of Me" as great examples of songs that thoughtfully asked questions about our government and the messages it sent. Maybe it's unfair to measure every country song by Hag. "Keep the Change" probably have had those classics in mind, but what Darryl Worley has turned in is little more than a vapid Tea Party jingle.

You can question, challenge and outright oppose President Obama, but let's not pretend that either he or President Bush before him have been freedom-quashing tyrants. Nor should a fan confuse his politics with whether or not a song is actually a good song...and this one is at least two more drafts away from being one.

The chorus asserts, "Gonna keep our God, our freedom, a little money in the bank/y'all can keep the change." Must be nice, Darryl, to have that job that lets you have a little money in the bank. Too many of your audience have gone without a job since before President Obama took office. I'm on board with the ire of, "I work half a year for me, the other half for Uncle Sam/While he's bailin' out those sinking ships and drownin' the little man." I think the situation is more complex than that, but we'll go with it. But what's up with the defiant claim, "And if you see me close my eyes and bow my head/before I break bread with my family/It ain't a habit, it's important it's my right?" Did President Obama try to slip in a "No bowing your head" clause that I missed?

No, but it's a line that will resonate with this song's audience. There's a crowd out there who wrap their Bibles in flags, and feel threatened by anyone and anything that doesn't pander to their idea of how to enjoy their freedoms of speech and religion. I won't be surprised when, instead of criticism that this song is anger-pandering drivel, Worley is lauded for "telling it like it is" and being "a real American." He must be; there are stars on the digital single artwork, after all.

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