Thursday, October 30, 2014

Friday Tunes: Allentown

Too many meetings this week to make a substantive post but here is an interesting (and disillusioned) working-class perspective on the deindustrialization of America in the late 1970s and early '80s: Billy Joel's Allentown. A fairly lame video (even by '80s' standards) but look for a young Val Kilmer (pre-Top Gun)!

Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line.

Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers at the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow
And we're living here in Allentown.

But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay.

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found

For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved.

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke,
Chromium steel.

And we're waiting here in Allentown.
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away.

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got.
but something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face, oh oh oh.

Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down.
But I won't be getting up today.

And it's getting very hard to stay.
And we're living here in Allentown.

-- Bob Barnetson

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