Joe Scarborough -- the former Republican congressman who now hosts a basic cable morning show -- wrote a 9/11 song. Why? I don't know. I really don't. It's called "Reason to Believe," and it comes with an insane, Americana-drenched video that also doubles as a parody of horrible Americana-drenched country music videos.
How "tasteful," that Scarborough did not appear in this video. That would've drawn attention away from the message of the song, which is that Joe Scarborough loves America and also wants to be a country singer.
I'm sure this was all meant with the best possible intentions, or at least done without the intention of actively harming anyone, but there are few things on this earth grosser than the vanity projects of millionaires. It is sort of immediately apparent to anyone not living in a bubble of celebrity that commemorating the tenth anniversary of a national tragedy by releasing a crappy charity country single is incredibly narcissistic and gross behavior. At some point, probably before Scarborough shelled out money for studio time, someone should have stopped this from happening. No one besides Joe Scarborough has any interest in Joe Scarborough's dabbling in country music. There was no demand for it. The only "awareness" it raises is awareness of Joe Scarborough's desire to branch out a little.
And why on earth is MSNBC promoting this? If Chris Matthews wrote a 9/11 screenplay would MSNBC film it? It's just weird.
Even weirder (via The Awl) is the Huffington Post's lengthy, worshipful write-up of the song and video. According to HuffPo this assortment of 9/11-related banalities has a stirring "anti-war" message!
Seriously, read some of this:
The host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and former Florida congressman, Scarborough is no John Mellencamp and he's certainly not the Dixie Chicks -- he's a Republican, after all. Yet the host, also a songwriter and Beatles fan, told The Huffington Post that his new song, "Reason to Believe," has a purpose that would have resonated with earlier critics of Vietnam.
"It's critical that we remember the heroes of 9/11 and those who are still fighting in an endless war," Scarborough said. "They need to come home. It's time."
The catchy tune and Americana visuals can't hide the searing lyrics as Scarborough laments the bloodshed of the last 10 years: "In an endless war / Tell me please how many more have to die / Before my sweet boy comes home."
Though his face never appears in the video, Scarborough's song resonates partly because he's the one sending the message. It says something about the antiwar canon of this generation that a conservative has been one of the most vocal critics of America's wars.
As art tends to require the passage of time, it could also be that Scarborough's song is just the first in a series of more reflective cultural examinations of the last 10 years. Such works cannot change the last decade, cannot bring back brave soldiers, but they can offer hope that the years will bring greater understanding. As Scarborough concludes: "At the end of the hour / When I'm drained of all power / I still find the reason to believe."
What? Is this just the press release Scarborough sent over? Did a human who isn't specifically paid to praise Joe Scarborough write those sentences? The searing lyrics! I'm seared. This song is like "Eve of Destruction" and "Fortunate Son" had a baby.
You can purchase the song at iTunes. Or you could give that 99 cents to Doctors Without Borders or something and listen to something else. (How about this? It's a song with the same name but written by a talented songwriter whose message is slightly more complex than "I like America and wars make people sad.") (Oh wait here's another better song with the same name.)