Rocking out to "When the Levee Breaks," you get the unmistakable feeling that Zep were undoubtedly spit out of some backwoods Louisiana marsh with electric guitars in their hands and Kentucky Bluegrass in their lungs. But, then you start to notice their skinny bodies and, alarmingly, even skinnier jeans. You realize that parts of their fourth album sound like they've been transcribed from a Tolkien novel. You learn that they claim that they dropped the "a" from "Lead Zeppelin" because they were worried "thick Americans" would think their name was pronounced "Leed Zeppelin." Then there' the fact that all Zep's members speak in a barely discernible cockney accent. Suddenly it hits you: By God, "Going to California" was about an 11-hour transatlantic, transcontinental flight!
Meanwhile, Michael Bolton' an American. Kenny G is an American and Barbra Streisand is an American. Well, at least we'll always have our all-American folk singers, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.
One of the great living protest songwriters, Young often aimed his potent pen and crazy, old gypsy lady voice at the American government-or, when the government was being good, at entire swaths of the American continent. He even started the classic rock equivalent of rap' East Coast-West Coast battle when he criticized southerners for being racist in his song "Southern Man," and got a "Fuck you" from Lynyrd Skynard in the lines "I hope Neil Young will remember, the southern man don't need him around anyhow" from their hit "Sweet Home Alabama." Proud racists everywhere can stop worrying, because Young isn't from anywhere "around" Alabama. He' from Toronto and currently resides in something called Manitoba, presumably in a hut made from antelope carcasses fused together with dried mud.
You can't blame Skynard for thinking they needed to tell Young to hit the bricks. A quick survey of the titles in his discography come up smelling as all-American as Hulk Hogan' ball sweat. There' "After the Gold Rush" (we weren't aware there was a Canadian one), "Harvest" (of hockey pucks presumably) and his urgent message to Americans to maintain their rocking, "Keep on Rocking in the Free World," which, last time we checked, meant us.
Showing that we're not as dumb as Young might have thought, our proud nation has spent the ensuing 30 years buying American with our FM dials. These days, the only people who listen to Neil Young' southern protest songs write for Rolling Stone. Meanwhile, every American citizen is required to know the words to "Sweet Home Alabama," and proudly sings along when it gets its requisite twice-hourly airplay on the local Clear Channel classic rock station. Looks like we're not as dumb as you thought, eh Neil? Who cares what the part about loving the governor is about, it' catchy. Now you heard what Skynard said at the beginning of the song: Turn it up!
For nearly 100 years, this grand old personification of the United States has encouraged young men to go off and get killed in a war for the good of their country. But did you know that the image of Uncle Sam, first depicted in a U.S. Army poster in 1917, was based on a similar English recruitment poster created three years earlier? Our greatest American icon is nothing more than a cheap knock-off of some British guys named Lord Kitchener and John Bull. Nothing says "American independence" quite like a total rip off of an icon native to the country we fought so hard to distance ourselves from.
Truth be told, Uncle Sam doesn't even really compare to Lord Kitchener. He doesn't have Kitchener' awesome mustache, and his costume looks especially ridiculous when you stand him next to a man wearing the full uniform of the British Army. But the kicker is that Lord Kitchener was a real personÃ¢â‚¬"he was England' War Secretary from 1914 to 1916. We'd like to give Uncle Sam the benefit of the doubt, but the fact of the matter is that real peopleÃ¢â‚¬"even dead peopleÃ¢â‚¬"trump imaginary people every time.
Nobody is as fond of telling people that they're on a mission from God than good red-blooded Americans like the Blues Brothers and President George W. Bush. But where do you think they got the whole, "Don't question my crazy beliefs because God is never wrong, now check out this sick party trick" thing from? Jesus of Nazareth, of course. And, while his James Dean-like violent death, Elvis-like popularity in the South and David Blaine-like air of mystery all seem to point logically to the stars and stripes, about the only thing that' certain about Jesus is that he wasn't actually born in America. Believe it or not, he was born in the Middle East! That means (gasp) Jesus wasn't even a handsome young white man! If Jesus ran for mayor in your town, there' almost no chance you'd vote for him. In fact, we'd be willing to bet that if Jesus were on a plane with you, you'd keep an eye on him every time he got up to go to use the bathroom, just in case.
Luckily, it only took us a couple of minutes of research to find a suitable replacement: known to perform miraculous feats that defy the laws of the physical universe, an iconoclast who hangs out with "hoes" just like Jesus, born of a virgin (according to an interview with his mother that appeared in Sports Illustrated), and most importantly born inside the boarders of this great nation, ladies and gentleman meet your new, All-American Messiah!