Alienation's for the Rich
a They Might Be Giants true country ballad.
History is not only written by the victors but also by boomers who lied to kids in the pre-internet era.
“Alienation’s for the Rich” by They Might Be Giants led to my best friend and I learning about Esperanto. Upon writing this week’s post, I discovered that what I was told decades ago by a relative about the origin of Esperanto was inaccurate. Like most of my relived childhood, I find myself wondering how much of the decisions I made in my adult life were influenced by assumed trust and belief in the adults around me at the time.
All of that aside, Esperanto is mentioned in this song and it is a language invented for the purpose of the entire world having an official 2nd Language to help foster better communication and relationships across the planet. I was told it was invented to confuse the Axis Powers during WWII. If I dive far enough into my schema, I’m vaguely aware of a Native American language that was used during a war to protect US communications. I think there was a movie made about it as well? Starring maybe Nicholas Cage?
Let’s build a little empire out of some crazy garbage. (that is a song reference.)
If homework and chores could be music, they would be Contemporary Country.
Contemporary country music was something I never enjoyed. So much so, that anything resembling the stuff turned me off pretty quick. '“Alienation’s for the Rich” started out as a song I would skip fairly often (once I had this album on CD that it is) and it wasn’t until more recent years, in the past 2 decades (oh my god, I just considered the past 2 decades as more recent years) that the tune took root in my ears and in my heart. Yeah, I used two sets of parentheses in that sentence. There are no rules here.
John Flansburgh takes the lead vocal on this one and he begins by dedicating the song to “all the modern-day troubadours out there” of whom I am assuming include the likes of Johnny Cash. What follows is a spot-on lyrical sad story of a man who isn’t feeling happy about the state of things in his life. “But I’m working to make it better,” Flansy sings on, “with a six of Miller High Life.”
When life gets low enough, Country settles into your heart.
This musical tale of woe never hit me as hard as it did in the summer of 2016. I was unemployed, had somehow just managed to get a parent-student loan for my son to follow his music degree plans at Private University, and I was rooming with a best friend in comedy (whom I was head-over-heels in love with) and her ex-fiance/current boyfriend.
I remember going for a walk down to the piers in downtown Olympia, WA with my headphones in. They Might Be Giants are my lifeline in tough situations. This song came through and something new happened - I didn’t skip it. Instead, I resonated with it while I sat on some rocks and watched the water. Between my lips rested a Black n’ Mild Jazz cigarillo and next to me in the sand, was a can of cotton candy flavored Bang! energy drink. These items were my own “six of Miller” and one look at the picture below will tell you that these are not signs that all is well in a person’s life.
“Alienation’s” is seldom on any of my top song lists. I don’t think it is even on my Spotify playlist “The Big Steamy Thing,” but it has become a no-skip track for me. I listen and am reminded of my lows and how I pushed through them. As a kid, I never thought I’d relate to or enjoy a country-sounding tune but here we are - grown up and wiser. How do YOU feel about “Alienation’s for the Rich?” Is this a sing-a-long good time for you? A hard pass? Let’s talk about it.