Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Bob Walkenhorst of Kansas City's Rainmakers had a good line about his fellow Americans' willingness to get out of it.
"The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys."
The smart line came from the song Drinkin' on the Job off the band's self-titled, major label album in '86 ("Everybody's drunk, everybody's wasted, everybody's stoned and there's nothing that's gonna change it") and in some circles that had Walkenhorst labelled as a wowser Right Winger.
On the other hand however their minor hit Let My People Go-Go which quoted loosely from the Bible (and Little Richard) had him pinned as anti-religious and a blasphemer.
Oh, and the song Government Cheese -- written after the Reagan government got rid of surplus cheese by handing out free dairy products to those on welfare -- had him described as anti-welfare.
"It was a very degrading sight," he said. "A van would pull up in a busy street and people would be given these little boxes with cheese in them. Because it was something for nothing everyone tried cheating the rules to get more than their fair share and it ended up with big fights in the street over pieces of cheese. I thought, 'Christ, have these people no respect for themselves?' "
When he added he'd done menial jobs "but at least I was doing something and kept my dignity" and observed "American people just don't seem to have any pride" you just knew he was also going to be accused of being anti-American.
Walkenhorst was a guy who spoke his mind . . . but also rocked out. And they were smart too, not just any band would be knowing enough to put a coded Thomas Hart Benton painting on their album cover.
One part Jason and the Scorchers/Georgia Satellites, a touch of Dylan's Highway 61 and a lot of post-modern rock'n'roll references, Let My People Go-Go was the most successful song of the band's career (which largely disappeared after this album, aside from in Scandanavia where they were always well received).
And Walkenhorst was typically mouthy and as unapologetic about it as he was when talking up Government Cheese.
"God quoting Little Richard, why not? God probably gets a kick out of Little Richard. I don't know if that offends anyone. But I hope so. I hope someone out there is getting pissed off."
Gee, who knew the guy who wrote Big Fat Blonde three years previous ("That song riled people because it sounded so terribly sexist, which it is") would want to get people's hackles up?
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