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Happy Unemployment Day Weekend, America!
The hot topic on Google News tonight is "Unemployment." Something about Labor Day Weekend and 9.6% official joblessness, we guess. The last 40 years or so haven't been so hot, for America. But at least we had good music -- hard times used to be especially good for popular and folk song!
English people used to love to watch old black Americans sing sad songs. But because black people were hard to find in the U.K. until the 1970s, whenthatempire crumbled and its distant subjects started turning up in London, scrawny white children from the "art schools" were forced into national service as "blues musicians." And, when you think about it, growing up in the hungry Orwellian aftermath of WWII was probably pretty good training for the blues, too.
And here's the greatest "working song" from the American songbook, and this solo recording by Jerry Lee Lewis (recorded for a weird late '80s Dennis Quaid-Winona Ryder biopic) might just be the best in a long line of great versions by Louis Armstrong and Aretha Franklin and especially this one by Ray Charles.
Christina Romer, chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, was giving what was billed as her "valedictory" before she returns to teach at Berkeley, and she used the swan song to establish four points, each more unnerving than the last:
She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn't understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn't have much of an idea about how to fix things.
What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery: "Terrible recession. . . . Incredibly searing. . . . Dramatically below trend. . . . Suffering terribly. . . . Risk of making high unemployment permanent. . . . Economic nightmare."
[ Washington Post ]