What better way to celebrate July 4th than with Bill Callahan’s ode to the U.S. of A, ‘America!’. Laced with Callahan’s characteristic irony, the song sits in the centre of his latest album Apocalypse.
The music video is preceded by the fourth episode of online variety show Friday Night Somewhere, where presenter Cabby interviews the tattoo artist James Jacobs.
Then at 7 minutes 29 seconds (to be precise), the animated clips starts, a vibrant collage of American imagery by Texas art collective Okay Mountain; pictures of strolling cowboy boots, postcards from Mt. Rushmore, apple pie, Johnny Cash, men with guns, the shuttle launch, Coney Island, oil fields, symbols of justice, a rainbow flag flying out of San Francisco, bald eagles and a lone guitarist on the prairie flash by to Callahan’s two-chord guitar line and dead-pan vocals singing “Afghanistan! Vietnam! Iran! Native America! America!”
Sarcasm is thick and you may think the song is in fact anti-America, but it does include the line, “Well everyone’s allowed a past they don’t care to mention.”
In a review of Apocalypse for The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones explains how Bill Callahan isn’t simply, as comedian Sean Hughes would like to dub him, a world-leading miserable bastard.