Music and News Pairings: Inauguration Day

One of the fundamental principles of a successful pairing is contrast. We begin with a selection from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, perhaps the original shock rocker.  One can imagine Hawkins appearing on ancient 1950’s black and white televisions (a primitive ancestor to the computer screen you’re holding in your hand right now), dressed in lazy icons of Voodoo ritual and animalistic signifiers of white America’s fear of the black male, creating a crisis in the suburban homes of midcentury America as parents grappled with the effect such an act would have on the hearts and minds of their godfearing children.

Trump is the inverse of Hawkins: unlikeable, soulless, adored by the klan.  The sense of dread Screamin Jay is hoping to invoke the direct antithesis to the terror a Trump presidency holds for the civilized world.  His campaign began as a joke, yet his word salads–essentially screams and grunts–won the hearts and minds of swaths of a nation still yearning for a time so naive that a black man in animal prints and a fake bone through his nose would be considered shocking.  And here is Hawkins belting out, “I can’t stand your putting me down,” as Trump shouts, “You’re fake news!”

Note the villainous laugh before Screamin Jay asserts, “I ain’t lyin’!”

We want to sympathize with Screamin Jay, just as we want to empathize with the “economically anxious,” overwhelmingly white, Trump voter.  Clearly, they have been wronged after putting their faith in the unfaithful.  But there is something more sinister going on here, if the necromantic imagery didn’t clue you in.  Jay is not merely pining after a girl who cheated on him, just as Trump isn’t merely bemoaning an unfavourable reception from the press.  They’re getting angry. They’re getting ready to do something about it.

The song begins as a simple ballad befitting of its time, but as as Hawkins screams and grunts over the verses, the song is elevated beyond its genre, turning a style of popular music accustomed to delivering bubblegum flavoured pronouncements of fleeting teenage lust, into something much darker.  When he scream, “I don’t care if you don’t want me/I said I’m yours right now,” look into the empty eyes of Donald Trump, at his puckered asshole-shaped lips, his tiny hand gropes a Bible, ready to unleash himself upon the world.


Trump sworn in as president


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