Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Song: Hammer or Anvil...and the story behind the song

"In life, one must either be hammer or anvil"
--Goethe, German writer and philosopher

I wrote this song in the late winter of last year. It was written and influenced completely by the Elliot Spitzer scandal when (then) Democratic Governor of New York Elliot Spitzer was forced to resign as Governor when it turned out he had been a frequent client of a Washington, DC escort service. The irony of Spitzer's downfall had been that he had been a very vocal advocate of "family" values and condemning pornography and other assorted immoral aspects of American society.

Thus the exposure of Spitzer's hypocrisy made for delicious debate among American political pundits as well as ending a once promising political career.

The title of the song is drawn from the above-mentioned quote from Goethe. It is also drawn from one of my favorite episodes from the 1967 British mini-series The Prisoner which starred Patrick McGoohan (who also used the above-mentioned quotation) when facing his nemesis, Number Two.

The lyric is relatively self-explanatory about the Spitzer scandal.

The "no rights we can abuse" line is me making a social comment about the Bush Administration.

The "wife displayed" line is me commenting on Spitzer's execrable decision (like all other politicians who get caught in scandals) of having his wife stand by his side (and thus forcing her to share in his humiliation) while he tries to explain the unexplainable; justify the unjustifiable; and ask for pity when he was being pitiless to the woman he loved.

When it comes to the melody, imagine acoustic guitars scraping, elementary percussion instruments being shaken, while a hammer clangs against an anvil in the background.


"Hammer or Anvil"

What you’ll be is precisely what you’re not
What you’ll get is what you haven’t got
The lie you live is not the lie you are
The path you lead is not the path you carved

Dishonesty’s disarray
Communities we betray
The answers left unsaid
The debtors left unpaid

Excess is no excuse
No rights we can abuse
The hammer becomes the anvil now
The anvil chorus destroys the sacred cow

What you missed is what you haven’t shot
What you pissed is what’s outside the pot
The life you take is not the life you sought
The wife displayed is not the wife you bought

Hypocrisy’s panoply
Idolatry’s feet of clay
The heroes left unsaved
The villains left depraved

Excess is no excuse
No rights we can abuse
The hammer becomes the anvil now
The anvil chorus destroys the sacred cow

© 03/14/2008 by Matthew DiBiase