All the President’s Men: For Us American Cousins

All the President’s Me

In the course of their intimate Two Mad Men and a String Quartet performance shared online June 6, Suggs and Mike Barson debuted two new Madness songs. “Theatre of the Absurd,” a Suggs composition, appears to be a spiritual sequel to his solo track “The Greatest Show on Earth” with a more somber tone. The other new tune is of particular interest to us at Stateside Madness, for reasons Barso outlined in his introduction:

“This song is about the dire straits over the pond at the moment. No, not really at the moment. It’s a song about our cousins in America, yeah. Leaders of the world. And where they’re leading us, who knows?”

Running just over 90 seconds, “All the President’s Men” is a terse meditation on social and political turmoil in recent U.S. history, mourning the current tattered state of the American dream. Barson borrows the title from the Woodward & Bernstein exposé on Watergate (and the subsequent Redford & Hoffman film adaptation), which originated as an allusion the irreparable injury following Humpty Dumpty’s fall.

The song is bracingly relevant in the context of international protests in response to the death of George Floyd. The mood and message beautifully fit the string quartet format, and an eventual studio recording could likely prove to have a similar sparse arrangement. A fantastic new piece of work to suit our troubled times.

The year was 1963
The last one for Kennedy

In ’68 the Lorraine Motel
On the balcony 
Where the Doctor fell
From a single shell

A last shot at democracy 
Shining city on a hill
Land of the free 
Seventeen agencies 
Looking out for thee
The NSA and Homeland Security 

A shot rang out 
The sound of gunfire echoes ’cross the mall
The future sucked into a dark black hole
Short-sighted small minds clamour for control

But there’s no dream no more
Psyops are now running the score
And the money trickles upwards evermore 
You’d almost think it was 1984

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