Nearly 10 years ago now a new song on the radio interrupted my idle thoughts. After a few quiet drum beats a gritty bass line cut in like a teacher’s voice. “Pay attention, children!”, it said. Dutifully, I sat up and listened. The authoritarian voice of the teacher started to sing – “I’m sick of working for a living” – and I wondered where this was going. Guitar chords came in as he intoned, “Your mum don’t sleep…”. The teacher’s words weren’t making much sense. Then, suddenly, as organ notes bubbled up, the message came over loud and clear:
The leaders of the free world are just little kids throwing stones
A later verse reinforced the point:
Passing the gun from father to feckless son
It was a lesson in politics. Guy Garvey, the teacher, was giving a pessimistic assessment of the western world; it’s a mess, the childish actions of the politicians are only making things worse and gun culture is fuelling violence.
I had been listening to the title track from Elbow‘s 2005 album Leaders of the Free World. It instantly propelled Elbow to the top of my list of favourite bands and I’ve been collecting their albums ever since. In recognition of that I’m making Leaders of the Free World my latest track of the week.
(YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlHGGKgzgzI)