Saturday, January 8, 2011

Resolutions: We're Gonna Change The World

Matt Monro: We're Gonna Change The World (link DMCAed)

For most people it’s enough to resolve to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, find a job or stop swearing. Matt Monro took the bigger view: in the post-heady days of 1970, he made a belated resolution of the Zeitgeist on behalf of a collective plurality which would change the world.

Monro was a British crooner (and a very good one) not famous for his revolutionary aspirations. Apparently he not even owned a beret or a Che beard. In short, he was Mom’s favourite, not a prototype Obama campaigner.

Here I may point out my regret that the Obama campaign failed to adopt We’re Gonna Change The World as their campaign tune, even if it might have made promises that the president could not possibly keep.

There is a persistent but untrue rumour that the song was created for another agent of unfulfilled promises: as a commercial for Corn Flakes, the breakfast cereal of dubious nutritional value, peddled by a corporation of dubious moral values (and which was founded by an utter madman). One can see cause for the rumour. The merry sing-along melody would not seem out of place in a commercial (hence my recommendation to Mr Obama), and then there is the opening verse: “Shirley Wood gulped down her breakfast, shut the fridge and joined the throng. Margaret Beatty snatched the milk in, scanned the news and went along...”

But before too long, Matt has his various female protagonists involved in a public protests, probably an anti-Vietnam demo, Shirley Wood's throng of the first verse. We encounter her again later, being “dragged, still sitting, by a policeman from the road”. Newspaper-reading Margaret Beatty “had her face slapped by a man she tried to goad”. But there is pathos, too. Anne Harris (also mentioned in the first verse), observes the protest from her office, and thinks of Don, her man, killed in combat. Monro observes, presumably with a healthy dose of irony: “Died for others to live better.”

Monro also addresses the women passing by the demo: “Harried, busy shopping wives; try to stir their ostrich notions, whip them up to wild emotions, put some fire into their wretched lives.” It is these harried, busy shopping wives who might just have purchased Matt’s latest album, for some post-housework easy listening relaxation.

All the more subversive then the stirring chorus: “So, come with us, run with us – we’re gonna change your world. You'll be amazed, so full of praise, when we’ve rearranged your world. We’re gonna change your world!”
What’s the way to the Bastille?

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