(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/11; via Pam Green.)
“Populism, yea, yea…”
Sung with a snarl, and accompanied by twanging power chords, those words opened the floodgates to a wave of electric emotion — a compound of rage, restlessness and a disgust with a ruling elite whose days had to be numbered. “We’re gonna take this country back,” went the lyrics of this anthem for dispossessed Americans, “for people like us, people who don’t just think about things.”
I first heard that song more than eight years ago at the Public Theater in downtown Manhattan. It was the opening number in a concert productionof a show called “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” a musical portrait of the seventh president of the United States. It’s been playing in my mind a lot recently.
How prophetic it sounds now. How easily those lyrics, and the propulsive drive of discontent within that melody, might fit the supporters at a rally for Donald J. Trump, whose ascendancy to the American presidency few people anticipated. But in 2009, who knew?