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(Inane) Songs of the Day: 'Hotdogs & Hamburgers' and 'Johnny 99'

Published August 13, 2012 11:48 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

John Mellencamp's "The Lonesome Jubilee" contains some of the best music he has ever writen.

Unfortunately, at that point in his career, his lyrics could be insanely stupid.

Take "Hotdogs & Hamburgers." The music is great. But if I hear Mr. Cougar correctly, he is comparing the choice to discriminate against Native Americans — or to not discriminate against Indians — to the choice between eating hot dogs or hamburgers. What?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CstCqm_4ug

While that is particularly egregrious, I still don't understand Bruce Springsteen's song "Johnny 99" of his "Nebraska" album. During that song, the title character kills a nightclerk. Later, during the title character's sentencing (he receives a death sentence, he tells the judge, "So if you can take a man's life for the thoughts that's in his head, then sit back in that chair and think it over judge one more time and let `em shave off my hair and put me on that killin' line." No, I don't think the judge sentenced you to death for the thoughts in your head. He sentenced you to death because you killed a guy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAjhHbtZyQU