Sunday, June 26, 2011
The Moutain Goats - "Catherine Antrim's Kid"
I've been thinking about this song a lot lately. Ever since I heard a leak of the limited edition All Survivor's Pack tape that came with pre-orders of All Eternals Deck, I thought "Goddamn, this sounds exactly like a classic Mountain Goats jam but you can see how much John Darnielle's songwriting has matured and aged like fine wine it's so fucking spectacular." This is one of the two tracks that weren't featured on the album, and though I'm saddened that I don't get to hear studio versions of both this and "Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece," I'm pretty content because the acoustic boombox versions are haunting and beautiful and pretty much perfect as is.
"And the night wrapped me up/ In its long dark embrace/I had that same expression on, as that one picture of my face/Which was all anyone would ever know about me."
So, I've been thinking about "Catherine Antrim's Kid," a song about Billy the Kid, and this morning I saw that the only known photo of Billy the Kid sold at Auction for $2.3 Million. This was apparently totally unexpected. The photo was expected to rake in four grand. It says something about American culture, or how American culture is percieved, in that people universally love Billy the Kid. Hell, people love outlaws in general despite the fact that they murdered folks and gave sheriffs what fer. The irony though, is that the photo was purchased by William Koch, whom with his brother David, run Koch Industries. Considering that Koch Industries is trying its hardest to destroy America by funding clowns like Wisconsin's Scott Walker and backing the Tea Party Movement.
It's an incredibly American sort of thing. That is, American as the term American means now. Which means that it's wealthy people trying to convince the poor people that their being poor is their own damn fault and they should vote for candidates who will cut taxes for the rich so a real proper plutocracy can be put in to place. It's plain as day if you look at it, but I guess it's hard to see through the values veil if you're from the heartland or wherever the fuck these Tea Party people's RV's come from. These people certainly love Billy the Kid because they see themselves as outlaws in their own pathetic way. They refuse to address the historical figure of Billy the Kid, the murderer, the criminal, and only look at the romanticized version of the outlaw doing whatever he wanted and sadly gunned down by the mean old law. The Tea Party likes to do this with history: Pick out the nice bits that make you want to wave a flag and discard all the stuff that makes you want to move to another country.
"Catherine Antrim's Kid" is the sort of image of Billy the Kid I like. A microhistory of the famed outlaw that makes him a sympathetic character. Not a great hero, just a guy. Somebody's son. It's sad to think that maybe all of our historical artifacts will someday be owned by billionaires. What, if you throw out the government like they want, they could buy anything they wanted. The Smithsonian, what have you. They could lock all the artifacts up so no one ever had to think about historical value and the everyone would receive a patriotic re-education. There's a saying about people who don't learn from history, and I bet the Koch Brothers known damn well what it is. And I'm pretty sure they're hoping everyone else doesn't. Have fun inspiring a bunch of fools, Billy the Kid's photo. Here's to hoping they don't hold a rally on your grave.