Everyone has his story on misheard lyrics that illustrates some biographical quirk. My three:
1. Boney M — “El Lute“
I heard a bit of Disco as a kid in the late 1970s and El Lute was one of my favorite songs, even though I didn’t speak a word of English at the time. That campy Euro-Caribbean band would not cross my thoughts again until two decades later, when I came across their Greatest Hits in a music store. Now fluent in English at almost thirty years old, I bought the tape and took a trip down memory lane. When I got to El Lute, I played it again because the song’s lyrics captured my attention, with its story about the famed Spanish outlaw.
Eleuterio Sánchez is either a murderer as convicted, or an innocent man per his steadfast claim. Only he knows the truth. He was born in 1942 to a dirt-poor peasant family in northern Spain, remaining illiterate until adulthood. He learned to read, earned a law degree, and wrote two books while serving a thirty-year prison sentence.
Because they own the recording industry, the song is anti-Franco propaganda. Nevertheless, you might still have a brain, but you don’t have a heart if your pulse doesn’t quicken to that story. See Point No. 8, short excerpt here:
Do you believe that a race has its destiny? If so, then ours is to build and destroy, at turns… “The European soul craves more; it needs more. If necessary, it will upend and destroy the world to get that ‘more.’ It will even destroy itself.”
I don’t mind stealing communist propaganda toward my ends. After all, I’m just taking back what’s ours: they co-opted our talent, they hijacked our folklore, so like cultural Viet Cong, we salvage the usable parts of the enemy’s equipment. Like in this bit of fun with El Lute:
And he wanted a home
Just like you and like me
In a country where all would be free
“Free love” vs “date rape” is the dividing line between Baby Boomers and Generation X. The dividing line between the previous generations and Millennials is that the latter never had a country of their own.
Though he taught himself
To read and to write
It didn’t help El Lute
The modern pursuit of an education is like grabbing a dancing reflection on water. Ancient Greeks called the program of learning that was essential to carrying out the duties of a citizen “liberal arts.” (Latin: ars liberalis, “the mastery of practices fitting a free man”). John Milton wrote that the ultimate purpose of education…
“… is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the neerest by possessing our souls of true vertue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” (1644)
At my university seminar, we poured feminist grievances over Beowulf. In a twisted way, that was still education because education is as much revealed-desire to know, as it is acquired knowledge.
This is analogous to elite military training. A bus full of Army Special Forces trainees on their first day, all of them hand-picked by their respective company commanders as cream of the crop, pulled over on the side of a road on its way to the selection school where ruthless weeding-out is done up-front. The bus driver was uncommunicative with the soldiers, who were growing restless with the delay. What they didn’t know, is that the driver is an instructor who evaluated his passengers on their behavior and the first round of people, complainers and such, was cut before they even arrived at the school.
To be taught, a man must be teachable. I had a few excellent professors but on balance, it was my frustration with the corrupted learning that constituted my education. The Alt-Right is similarly self-educated in that by discovering the Red Pill, we reclaimed the accumulated wealth of Western wisdom, the path to which for us was a labyrinth.
With the prize on his head
People still gave him bread
And they gave him a hand
For they knew he was right
And his fight was their fight
Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Or to put it differently: if you’re a guerrilla fighter, never harm your friendly civilians. If you’re a civilian, show your fighters some appreciation. At the very least, never rat them out.
On walls every place
They had put up the face of El Lute
And he robbed where he could
Just like once Robin Hood
Every nation has its populist myths. There are ballads of Pretty Boy Floyd begging a meal from struggling farmers in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, then leaving one thousand dollars on their dinner table under his napkin before disappearing.
El Lute’s story ends well for him, but what does that have to do with us?
And then freedom really came to his land
And also to El Lute
Now he walks in the light
Of a sunny new day
2. Pink Floyd — “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”
A quick gloss over an autobiographical matter: during my almost-teenage years, my family and I spend several months in Austria. This was at the beginning of the 1980s, and we were part of a wave of Eastern European asylees en route to their ultimate destinations in the Western Hemisphere. We were put up in a lovely Gasthaus in an Alpine village, but also spent a total of about two weeks at refugee camp outside of Vienna, at a facility that for me is the touchstone of dignified state architecture.
It was built in 1900 as a training academy for Imperial artillery officers. After WWII, the occupying Soviet Army used it as barracks. In 1956, it served as shelter for Hungarians after their crushed uprising, and the center continued to process Soviet Block refugees through the end of the Cold War. You can guess what kinds of refugees came through there more recently. That building today:
One chilly morning, my dad took me into town outside the camp’s gates, to a breakfast diner. The small town was overwhelmed with foreigners, who were mostly from Communist countries that shared their borders with Austria. A man my dad’s age, a fellow-Pole, hears us talk and asks if he can join us, all tables being taken. Leaving the two adults to their conversation, I turned my attention to the busy scene inside the restaurant.
The jukebox comes on, playing a catchy, unfamiliar song that I correctly judged to be in English. When the song ends, a strangely behaving, possibly-drunk young man approaches the jukebox, drops coins into the slot and that same songs begins to play again. He shouts something in German to nobody in particular and guessing by his look, he was an East German refugee. This cycle repeats several times, with the song ending and the young man loudly announcing something as he puts it on again. I didn’t mind the repetition, as I was becoming captivated by the song’s bass line and the sneering intro vocals.
A twelve-year-old travels with wide-open eyes, absorbing every detail of a new country. This being Austria, I was fascinated with the Nazi lore I’ve grown up with behind the Iron Curtain, now being a guest near the epicenter of that legacy. The reason my thoughts went there is because the shouted line in the song, just before the refrain (in reality “Hey! teacher!”), had me convinced to be “Heil! Hitler!”
And that, my fellow AltRighters, is how I ended up right here with you.
3. Nirvana — “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Ten years later I’m a student, doing my brief stint as a waiter in a mid-Atlantic college town. The evening shift had ended. A wad of cash in my pocket, I was in the mood for loud music and a buzz, so I told a co-worker: “Let’s go to X.” He and I walked one door over to a pub/dance club and we grabbed a table.
With our white dress shirts, now comfortably unbuttoned at the neck, we were indubitably the only dudes in the place not wearing flannel. It was difficult to talk over the noise. Doesn’t matter: a peculiar new song came on, its opening power chords halting the conversation. Then the hello, hello, hello, hello as the shell is chambered, then boom! goes the payload:
With the lights out!
It’s less dangerous!
Here we are now! …
“… undertakers?” — asks my colleague, quizzically arching his eyebrow.