February 01, 2004

Ayn Rand and good music

I can't stand Ayn Rand, but she has a crazy habit of showing up in songs I like.

Most famously, she inspired one of my favorite songs from my youth: The Trees by Rush:

There is unrest in the forest, There is trouble with the trees, For the maples want more sunlight And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

In a slightly less successful effort (lyrically, at least), Rush also did the Ayn Rand-inspired Freewill:

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill; I will choose a path that's clear I will choose freewill. Etc., etc.

Yeah. Free will is only a "clear" path for rock-star adolescents and Ayn Rand. Nevertheless, Ayn Rand keeps showing her ugly face in good songs. These days, I listen to Kid Rock. Imagine my surprise to find you-know-who in the lyrics to Where U at Rock?:

And I'll be the long haired wizard with the lazy eye Ask the ladies and they'll tell ya that im crazy fly I'm steppin' to the mic like a soldier bro I hate to sound like a dick but I told ya so hoe Old Crow and a soul full of desperation I'm rockin' up on the mic with no consideration For your church or your family Ayn Rand couldn't stand me so she banned me I'm like a dandy lion Jack You can cut me down and then I'll pop right back And attack from the back like a great white I'm not down with the scrappin' but I'm down for the gun fight Behind my back talkin' shit But when I front your ass you wanna act like a little bitch Keep on and you get your ass smacked Kid Rock's in the house that's where I'm at

I think I'll have to go read the elvish lyrics in the soundtrack to Return of the King. Just paranoid, I guess...

Posted by Carey at February 1, 2004 09:26 PM

Funny, the songs you mention are my least favorite Rand-inspired Rush songs. I prefer Anthem and 2112. Then again, I'm a sucker for a concept album.

Posted by: kodi at February 4, 2004 10:15 AM

I once started a paper by quoting the first two lines of The Trees. However, I wasn't really using it as a metaphor in that case: The paper was about the natural succession of trees (including oaks and maples) in a nearby forest, and I thought it was an amusing intro.

P.S. I also used Billy Joel's River of Dreams in a paper -- about the North Adams (MA) Flood Control Project.

Posted by: Larry at February 4, 2004 01:20 PM

"Yeah. Free will is only a "clear" path for rock-star adolescents and Ayn Rand."

What does that mean?

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