Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

What if Political Science Majors Wrote Pop Songs?

Thanks to the wonders of iTunes, I have been enjoying many of my favorite songs from the past. These are songs that somehow failed to stay in my collection for the necessary 15 years it takes for me to rediscover them. Some I never owned, but only heard. Others belonged to a roommate or family member. Many were once owned, but at some point were traded in so I could buy a ridicuously priced box set. Still more got lost in the never-ending format shuffle, from album to tape to CD to MP3 (yes, I missed eight-tracks).

My favorite song of late is one that confounds me each time I listen to it, and has for many years allowed me to confound others. It's a song that begs the question, What if political science majors wrote rock 'n roll songs? What if song lyrics read like a fairly typical college thesis? Would you believe me if I told you that a single pop song by a popular band includes the words realpolitik, landed gentry, business acumen, vested interest, book burning, exhuming, rationalize, jingo, and recordings from the McCarthy hearings?

There's only one possible explanation: yes, it's REM with Exhuming McCarthy. 1987...when rock had a conscious and all the cool people carried dictionaries to the dancefloor. I find it hard to believe there is another song like it. And here it is, edited for space.

You’re beautiful
more beautiful than me
You’re honorable
more honorable than me
Loyal to the Bank of America

It’s a sign of the times
It’s a sign of the times

You’re sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen.
Sharpening stones, walking on coals,
To improve your business acumen.

Vested interest united ties, landed gentry rationalize
Look who bought the myth, by jingo, buy America

Enemy sighted, enemy met, I’m addressing the realpolitik
Look who bought the myth, by jingo, buy America

"Let us not assassinate this man further Senator, You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Enemy sighted, enemy met, I’m addressing the realpolitik
You’ve seen start and you’ve seen quit (I’m addressing the table of content)
I always thought of you as quick
Exhuming McCarthy (Meet me at the book burning)
Exhuming McCarthy (Meet me at the book burning)