America Blows

By MIKE MILIARD  |  June 29, 2007

And what about other international competitions, like cycling? Well, let’s just say that whatever goodwill Lance Armstrong may have engendered with his seven Tour de France wins (which began two years before Bush took office), it has been all but obliterated by Floyd Landis’s, uh, interesting lab results. As dull as cycling was, Lance’s was the last great achievement by an American in international sports, and now it’s run off the road.

070629_ab_main2
INVASION OF THE CULTURE SNATCHERS: (from left) Sacha Baron Cohen (England), Russell Crowe (New Zealand), Celine Dion (Canada), Lady Sovereign (England), Nicole Kidman (Australia), Naomi Watts (Australia), Helen Mirren (England), Simon Cowell (England), and Steve Carell (uh, he’s an American).

Things America can still actually do well
1 | Renege on global treaties
2 | Christen celebrity couples with amusing nicknames (“Bennifer,” “Brangelina,” etc.)
3 | Blog
Treason to rock
This Fourth of July, from Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, to Muscle Beach, California, classic-rock radio will celebrate Independence Day with classic-rock countdowns.

“American Pie” will be on the list. As will “LA Woman” and possibly even Springsteen’s “4th of July, Asbury Park.” “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down” and “American Woman” are good bets, too — even though they’re both sung by bands that consist either mostly or entirely of Canadians. And there will almost certainly be a song or two by Boston. (RIP, Brad Delp.)

But rounding out the remainder of the list — dozens upon dozens upon dozens of songs — will be bands like the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, Cream, Pink Floyd, Queen, Jethro Tull, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Elton John, and Black Sabbath. What, dear reader, do you suppose those bands have in common?

As we near the apex of the list, there will be songs that have a rightful place on a list celebrating American independence — sops to the freedom-rockin’ good-ol’ boys who drink whisky and rye when they drive their Chevys to the levee. “Sweet Home Alabama,” say, or Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.”

But what song will be number one? Almost certainly it will be “Stairway to Heaven.” A song its authors composed while overlooking the manicured English lawns of Headley Grange, Hampshire (a structure built in 1775, the year before the Declaration of Independence). A dewy, weeping song with lyrics about hedge rows and pipers, May Queens and whispering winds. What country is this, anyway?

A country, first of all, with some pretty shitty bands. “Look at all the bands that America has produced from 2000 on,” says WFNX program director Keith Dakin. “They’re terrible. Limp Bizkit, Three Doors Down, Nickelback.” (On the latter, at least, we’re off the hook. Kroeger & Co. hail from the cowboy province of Alberta.)

But we’re also a country — hopefully — that’s willing to defend itself. Which is why WFNX will be airing the “America vs. the World” marathon on July 4, pitting artists from the US of A against those from across the pond in a rock-and-roll death match. Beastie Boys vs. Fatboy Slim. Modest Mouse vs. Arctic Monkeys. REM vs. The Smiths.

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