America, America

I remember reading a particular issue of Mad Magazine back in the seventies. As it so often did, it included some song and poem parodies, this time on an environmentalist theme. I can recite two of them from memory–one a spot-on Dr. Seuss, and the other a version of the song “America The Beautiful”:

O cancerous, for smoggy skies
For pesticidal grain
Irritated mountains rise
Above an asphalt plain

America, America
Thy sins prepare thy doom
Monoxide clouds shall be thy shrouds
Thy cities be thy tomb!

It’s such a simple ABAB structure, a well-known tune, and packed with patriotic associations. I thought I’d set my commenters on the task of updating it.

I’ll start:

O beautiful for armored trucks
For strong police brigades
For officers who give no fucks
Dispensing gas grenades

America! America!
Where God preserves our rights
Where all can see that speech is free
I mean, of course, for whites


  1. Cuttlefish says

    It occurs to me (and this has happened with a few of my earlier satires) that there will be some who read that last bit and smile approvingly. Those people frighten and disgust me.

  2. Randomfactor says

    I grew up on Mad parodies and can still remember many.

    I think you may have cross-wired it with one of Carlin’s bits, though. I remember a very similar bit on one of his albums. Or maybe he adapted the Mad one.

    O beautiful, for wire-tapped phones
    and intercepted mail
    while corp’rate sins the Fed condones
    and banks too big to fail

    America, America
    in God you shouldn’t trust
    courts idolize the Wall Street guys
    –the world sighs with disgust

  3. Joan says

    Oh beautiful white Ferguson
    You fled from city blacks
    Until the they started coming here
    Then you again made tracks.

    The population dipped for whites
    Who stayed. Dramatically.
    And now you feel discomfort
    Being in minority.

    The mayor and the local cops
    Remained most Lilly white.
    And thus you felt more snug and smug.
    By God! That was all right!.

    Tear gas and smoke bomb fireworks now
    Are lighting up the sky.
    A young man with a future, gone.
    Who wasn’t meant to die.

    Oh clueless little Ferguson,
    A microcosm’s here.
    The face of justice warped again?
    Suspicion turned to fear.

    And fear breeds hate. How long the wait?
    Black justice same as white?
    Now armored cars have joined the fray.
    Another endless night.

  4. zackoz says

    I don’t know a lot about the US, so I adapted this to an Australian milieu:

    Australia, Australia,
    Tony Abbott’s paradise.
    He’ll help the rich without a glitch,
    No need to ask him twice.

    His gov’ment said, “We are so broke
    Our budget woes are sore.”
    So they declared the cost be shared,
    But mainly by the poor.

    Australia, Australia,
    ASIO* wants more powers
    To spy on us in house or bus,
    They’ll watch us in our showers.

    In pursuit of terrorists
    They view emails and stuff
    Muslims too are much in view
    But that’s just not enough.

    Australia, Australia:
    Abbott declares, “Old chap,
    Please burn your coal, and sell your soul
    Cos global warming’s crap.”

    “My business adviser here**
    On whom I place reliance
    Boldly scoffs at all the profs,
    Although he knows no science. ”

    Australia, we are so proud
    Of the Great Barrier Reef.
    A wondrous mass with sharks and wrasse,
    Of nature’s crowns the chief.

    So let us launch new smokestacks near
    Without a hint of grief,
    As pollutants run beneath the sun
    To contaminate the Reef.

    Australia, Australia
    We’ll lend a helping hand
    Unless you’re black or dosh you lack,
    Those ones we cannot stand.

    So if you come by boat to here
    We make a hell on earth
    And those unpaid who try to aid
    Are a target for our mirth.

    Australia, Australia
    We gave you Murdoch and Ken Ham,
    For news to fake, an Ark to make.
    Aren’t you impressed? I am!

    Australia is number one
    In male obesity,
    We beat the Yanks and got no thanks
    As we waddled off in glee.

    *Our domestic intelligence agency.
    **Maurice Newman, head of the Business Advisory Council; as a scientist he is a great businessman.

  5. Cuttlefish says

    Zack, I should do a separate blog post with Waltzing Mathilda (which, for me, is a song I learned as a child at camp, and know fondly and by heart, and probably incorrectly)!

  6. zackoz says

    You astonish me!

    Some of the words would be unfamiliar, I would guess. Squatter, billabong, jumbuck et al.

    It’s Matilda without the h, by the way,

    I must look if there are already parodies – must be, but I haven’t seen any.

    Trust Australia to have a popular traditional song about a suicide!

    I saw quite recently a parody of America America sung on Youtube by a young lady with a guitar.

    Did I get it from FTB? (can’t remember things these days). Anyway, one of her lines was

    America is number one
    In teenage pregnancy.

    That (obviously) inspired the last verse above.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    Honestly, Zack, the song totally creeped me out as a young cuttlefish. “And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong”…. for us, it was a camping song (so we got to learn all about “waited while his billy boiled”, and “shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag” and all that), but I still get a chill when I remember “you’ll never catch me alive said he”. That song was a big part of my childhood!

    Just recently saw the movie “On The Beach”, and the treatment of Waltzing Matilda (no H) was just horrific. It went on forever, a drunken chant, without any care as to what words were being sung. Blah.

  8. zackoz says

    Now, THAT really is a parody!

    Well, I could understand some of the words, I suppose.

    Maybe I will warm to that man, but the general delivery doesn’t make it easy.

  9. says

    Back to America, here’s my contribution:

    O treacherous with drone-filled skies,
    Dead bodies piled up deep
    On foreign shores where our supplies
    Of bombs make mothers weep.

    America, America,
    Blood shed its curse on thee.
    And drowned thy worth in scorched earth
    Till we’re no longer free.

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