Curtis Mayfield – (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Educated fools, From uneducated schools, Pimping people is the rule, Polluted water in the pool, And Nixon talking about don’t worry, worry, worry, worry

I’m saying goodbye to Richard Milhous Nixon with this one. I hope you have enjoyed the songs that referenced the former President. The comments were great so I thank all of you.

(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Going to Go” was released in November 1970 as the first, and only charting single off of Curtis’ debut album Curtis, it being his first solo charting single. The song peaked at #29 in 1971 in the Billboard 100. It also peaked at #3 in the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart.

The song was about racial relations and the situation in America’s inner cities.  He’d already steered The Impressions toward funkier, more conscious material. As a solo artist, he wanted to make a fresh impression beyond The Impressions. This song certainly did that. Much like John Lennon, he didn’t hold back.

On August 13, 1990, a lighting rig fell on him while he was onstage in New York, crushing three vertebrae and rendering him a quadriplegic for the remainder of his life. He managed to make one last album, two years before his death on December 26, 1999; titled New World Order

 

(Don’t Worry) If There Is A Hell Below, We Are All Going To Go

Sisters, brothers and the whities
Blacks and the crackers
Police and their backers
They’re all political actors
Hurry
People running from their worries
While the judge and the juries
Dictate the law that’s partly flaw
Cat calling, love balling, fussing and cussing
Top billing now is killing
For peace no-one is willing
Kind of make you get that feeling
Everybody smoke, smoke, smoke, smoke, smoke
Use the pill and the dope, dope, dope, dope, dope
Educated fools
From uneducated schools
Pimping people is the rule
Polluted water in the pool
And Nixon talking about don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
He says don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
He says don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
He says don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
But they don’t know
There can be no show
And if there’s a hell below
We’re all gonna go, go, go, go, go
Everybody’s praying
And everybody’s saying
But when come time to do
Everybody’s laying
Just talking about don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
They say don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
They say don’t worry, worry, worry, worry
They say don’t worry, worry, worry, worry

Neil Young – Campaigner ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

I hardly slept the night you wept, Our secret’s safe and still well kept, Where even Richard Nixon has got soul., Even Richard Nixon has got Soul.

Campaigner has a more sympathetic take on the former president. This song was inspired by Richard Nixon’s wife Pat when she had a stroke in 1976. Cameron Crowe, then a Rolling Stone magazine writer remembered:  Neil Young is on tour. Young and his son, Zeke, are sitting on a hotel bed watching television. A news bulletin interrupts the broadcast. Pat Nixon, the wife of the disgraced former president, had suffered a stroke. The report has an announcer talking over a film clip of a distraught Richard Nixon moving through the hospital’s revolving doors. Young took it all in and after some time passed, headed for his bus in the hotel’s parking lot. There he wrote a song, “Campaigner,” and played it in concert a few hours later.

The song was on the Decade, a triple album set that was released in 1977. It’s also on Songs For Judy, a live album recorded in November 1976 that was released in 2018.

 

Campaigner

I am a lonely visitor.
I came to late to cause a stir,
Though I campaigned all my life
towards that goal.

I hardly slept the night you wept
Our secret’s safe and still well kept
Where even Richard Nixon has got soul.
Even Richard Nixon has got
Soul.

Traffic cops are all color blind.
People steal from their own kind.
Evening comes to early for a stroll.
Down neon streets the streaker streaks.
The speaker speaks,
but the truth still leaks,

Where even Richard Nixon has got soul.
Even Richard Nixon has got it,
Soul.

The podium rocks in the crowded waves.
The speaker talks of the beautiful saves
That went down long before
he played this role
For the hotel queens and the magazines,
Test tube genes and slot machines
Where even Richard Nixon got soul.
Even Richard Nixon has got it,
Soul.

Hospitals have made him cry,
But there’s always a freeway in his eye,
Though his beach just got
too crowded for his stroll.
Roads stretch out like healthy veins,
And wild gift horses strain the reins,
Where even Richard Nixon has got soul.
Even Richard Nixon has got
Soul.

I am a lonely visitor.
I came to late to cause a stir,
Though I campaigned all my life
towards that goal.

CSN&Y – Ohio ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming, We’re finally on our own, This summer I hear the drumming, Four dead in Ohio

One of the most famous songs to mention Nixon by name…or at least the one I think of the most. It was inspired by a tragic real event that took place onMay 4, 1970, when the US National Guard shot four unarmed students at Kent State University in Ohio. Neil Young wrote it shortly after seeing a news report on the tragedy. It was released 10 days after the shootings.

This song is extremely powerful…In that time some rock songs were like newspaper articles for the young. The guitar riff is pure Neil Young at his raw best. The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100 in 1970. This was released as a single, but the song did not appear on an album until Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young included it on their live album Four Way Street a year later.

Neil Young considers this the best song he wrote with CSN&Y. He included this on his 1977 Greatest Hits album Decade. After the single’s release, it was banned from some AM radio stations because of the challenge to the Nixon Administration in the lyrics.

The most famous song to mention Nixon or Watergate is probably Sweet Home Alabama… This is a write up from Dave from A Sound Day.

From Songfacts

The Kent State shootings had a profound effect on some of the students who later became prominent musicians. Chrissie Hynde was a student at the time and eventually formed The Pretenders. Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale were also on campus, and after the shootings, they developed the band Devo based on the concept of “De-Evolution,” meaning the human race was regressing. Said Casale, “It refocused me entirely. I don’t think I would have done Devo without it. It was the deciding factor that made me live and breathe this idea and make it happen. In Chrissie Hynde’s case, I’m sure it was a very powerful single event that was traumatic enough to form her sensibility and account for a lot of her anger.” Mothersbaugh added, “It was the first time I’d heard a song about something I’d been a participant in. It affected us. It was part of our life.”

A tin soldier is a toy soldier, mindlessly controlled by its owner. In this song, Young likens the National Guard troops to tin soldiers controlled by Nixon.

It’s likely he got the metaphor from a 1969 song by The Original Caste called “One Tin Soldier,” which went to #1 in Young’s native Canada (it was an American hit two years later for the band Coven). Other songs with the phrase in the title include “The Little Tin Soldier” by Donovan (1965) and “Tin Soldier” by the Small Faces (1967).

Jerry Casale gave Songfacts this account of the shootings:

“I was a student, I was a member of SDS – an antiwar group called Students for a Democratic Society, trying to restore Democracy at a time when LBJ and Nixon were running roughshod over it. There were several antiwar groups. That protest that day where everybody got shot was a protest against the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. It was a secret expansion, Nixon had done it the night before and we found out about it the next day – the whole nation did. They did it without an act of Congress, without passing any new law or having any meetings. It was completely unconstitutional.

So we’re out there at noon, about 3,500 students at Kent State were out there. The governor, who certainly was a pro-war kind of guy, Governor Rhodes, he had placed the National Guard inside the heating plant of the school the night before anticipating what would happen when the students found out about Cambodia. Not only did he do that, but he waited until about 9 a.m. on May 4th to declare Martial Law, which suspends all first amendment rights of The Constitution, meaning that any assembly is automatically illegal, you’re automatically committing a crime.

These National Guardsmen poured out of the heating plant, surrounded the protesters, and with a bullhorn announced that Martial Law had been declared and that we were all going to jail. Everybody starts chanting and screaming and they start shooting tear gas and some of the more ballsy protesters, while they’re coughing and choking and puking are trying to throw it back, but most of the kids were anywhere from 50 to 100 yards away from these lines of National Guardsmen with guns.

Nobody believed that the guns were actually loaded with live ammo. They just suddenly formed a row. The first one knelt and the second one stood, and they just shot right into the crowd, shot at all of us, down the hill at all of us. The worst thing about it is that two of the four students killed weren’t part of the demonstration, weren’t part of an antiwar group. They’d just come out of class from the journalism building at that time and come out on their way to their next class and we’re looking at the protest, just seeing what the hell’s going on, and they got killed. The bullets just went everywhere, it was like a scatter-gun approach, like shooting geese. A lot of the bullets went over the heads of the protesters and kept going straight down the hill. One of the kids that’s paralyzed for life was getting into his car to leave campus after his class, and they shot him in the back. He was at least 200 yards away and wanted nothing to do with what was going on. It was shocking. It pretty much knocked any hippie that I had left in me right out of me that day.

I had been a member of the honors college and the only way I went to school was with a scholarship. My family was poor and I got a scholarship to go to school. What I had to do every year to earn my scholarship was work three months in the summer for the university admitting new students to the honors college, the incoming freshman, and helping them arrange their curriculum, taking them through the registration process. The summer before May 4th, I had befriended Jeffery Miller and Allison Krause, two honor students, and they turn out to be two of the four killed on May 4th. So I’d known both of them nine months before this happened, and so when I realized that this girl on her stomach with a huge exit wound in her back with blood running down the sidewalk was Allison, I nearly passed out. I sat down on the grass and kind of swooned around and lied down. I was in shock, I couldn’t move.

The government and the press tried to lie about what happened as well as they could. The fact that anybody knows what happened is amazing because they did such a good job of muddying it up and lying, it was amazing. The final chapter there was that the parents of the students who were shot and killed banded together and went on a class action suit against Governor Rhodes and the state of Ohio and the National Guard, and summarily lost across the board. These kids that were shot were 18 and 19 years old. Two of them were 18 and two of them were 19. They lost because by law, no one was allowed to be having a protest once Martial Law was declared, and they threw it out of the court system. I don’t think anyone wants to know the truth. It ruins the myth of freedom in America to find out how easy it can be gone.” (check out our Devo interview)

This became a protest anthem as Americans became fed up with the war in Vietnam. Providing a firsthand account of the shootings and the effect of this song, Alan Canfora told us: “On May 4, 1970, I was waving a black protest flag as a symbol of my anger and despair 10 days after I attended the funeral of my 19-year-old friend killed in Vietnam. I was about 250 feet away from the kneeling, aiming guardsmen from Troop G – the death squad – minutes before they marched away up a hillside. They fired 67 shots from the hilltop during 13 seconds of deadly gunfire, mostly from powerful M1 rifles. I was shot through my right wrist. I survived because I jumped behind the only tree in the direct line of gunfire. About a week later, I was riding in the Ohio countryside with other Kent State massacre survivors when WMMS radio played the song ‘Ohio’ for the first time. We were deeply moved and inspired by that great anti-war anthem.”

Young was a vocal critic of American foreign policy throughout the Vietnam War and became a voice of dissent during the George W. Bush administration when songs like “Let’s Impeach The President” spoke out against the president and his war in Iraq.

Devo recorded this for the 2002 album When Pigs Fly, Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear. The album was a collection of unlikely covers by various artists. Cevin Soling, who put the album together, met Mark Mothersbaugh’s girlfriend at a film festival, who told Mark about the project and got Devo involved. Says Soling: “I knew about the history, I was nervous about them thinking I was being exploitative of their tie to the tragedy. So I really tried to do that gingerly. That took a little while to get off the ground. They did “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which I guess they had started working on at one point. And I guess it was just sort of difficult getting everyone together and recording. But then they called me back and they said they listened to it and they didn’t think it was good. So at some point in time, they finally all got motivated and got together. I guess Mark was very nervous about putting out something that might not up to Devo quality, and I think he’s finally let the seer of his legacy kind of loom over doing new stuff.”

Ohio

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know

Ah, la la la la…

Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming
We’re finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio

David Bowie – Young Americans ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Do you remember, your President Nixon? Do you remember, the bills you have to pay
For even yesterday?

This song and album had to be a shock at the time. Bowie went from Glam Rock to more of a soul sound within a year. Young Americans peaked at #28 in the Billboard 100, #33 in Canada, #18 in the UK, and #7 in New Zealand. The album peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1975.

Young Americans was the first Bowie album that guitarist Carlos Alomar played on. Bowie first saw Alomar playing in the house band at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, and convinced him to play on this album and join the tour. Alomar became a major contributor, playing on several of Bowie’s albums and coming up with guitar riffs for songs like “Fame” and “Golden Years.”

John Lennon appeared on the album on songs Across The Universe and Fame.

From Songfacts

Bowie never was a young American – he was born and raised in England. Bowie said that this was the result of cramming his “whole American experience” into one song.

This was recorded between tour dates at Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound Studios, which was the capital of black music in the area. The soul influence had a very obvious effect on Bowie’s style. He even completely redesigned the stage for the rest of his Diamond Dogs tour.

Over the course of about eight very creative days, Bowie recorded most of the songs for Young Americans at Sigma Studios. He usually recorded his vocals after midnight because he heard that’s when Frank Sinatra recorded most of his vocals, and because there weren’t so many people around.

Sigma had a staff of very talented producers and musicians (known as MFSB – the same folks who had a #1 hit with “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)”), but Bowie used his own people – Tony Visconti produced this track.

The line near the end, “I heard the news today, oh boy,” is a reference to the Beatles song “A Day In The Life.” John Lennon worked with Bowie on “Fame” and also Bowie’s cover of “Across The Universe.” Both songs are on this album.

The lead instrument in this song the saxophone, which was played by the American jazz player David Sanborn. He was just starting to get noticed when Bowie brought him in to play on this.

Bowie hired Luther Vandross, who had yet to establish himself as a solo artist, to sing backup and create the vocal arrangements on the Young Americans album.

Near the end of the song, Bowie sings, “Black’s got respect and white’s got his soul train.” Soul Train is an American TV show targeted to a black audience that started in 1970. The show featured lots of very expressive dancing as well as a musical guest, and in November 1975, Bowie became one of the first white singers to perform on the show, something he was very proud of. The “Young Americans” single was released in February 1975, so Bowie performed “Fame” and “Golden Years,” which was his current single.

The album was going to be called “Dancin'” before Bowie decided to name it after this track.

At a performance at Giants Stadium, Bowie stopped after singing the line, “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me…”, and dropped to the stage, where he stayed for 10 minutes. The crowd went nuts, but got concerned after a while. Bowie did it to see what kind of reaction he would get.

The Cure did a version of this in appreciation of Bowie, their longtime friend. The lyrics “Do you remember President Nixon?” were changed to “…President Clinton?” The Cure’s version was originally released on a British radio demo CD only, but can now be found on various bootlegs.

Young Americans

They pulled in just behind the bridge
He lays her down, he frowns
Gee my life’s a funny thing, am I still too young?
He kissed her then and there
She took his ring, took his babies
It took him minutes, took her nowhere
Heaven knows, she’d have taken anything, but

All night
She wants the young American
Young American, young American, she wants the young American
All right
She wants the young American

Scanning life through the picture window
She finds the slinky vagabond
He coughs as he passes her Ford Mustang, but
Heaven forbid, she’ll take anything
But the freak, and his type, all for nothing
Misses a step and cuts his hand, but
Showing nothing, he swoops like a song
She cries where have all Papa’s heroes gone?

All night
She wants a young American
Young American, young American, she wants the young American
All right
She wants the young American

All the way from Washington
Her bread-winner begs off the bathroom floor
“We live for just these twenty years
Do we have to die for the fifty more?”

All night
He wants the young American
Young American, young American, he wants the young American
All right
He wants the young American

Do you remember, your President Nixon?
Do you remember, the bills you have to pay
For even yesterday?

Have you have been an un-American?
Just you and your idol singing falsetto ’bout
Leather, leather everywhere, and
Not a myth left from the ghetto
Well, well, well, would you carry a razor
In case, just in case of depression?
Sit on your hands on a bus of survivors
Blushing at all the afro-Sheilas
Ain’t that close to love?
Well, ain’t that poster love?
Well, it ain’t that Barbie doll
Her heart’s been broken just like you have

All night
All night was a young American
Young American, young American, you want the young American
All right
All right you want the young American

You ain’t a pimp and you ain’t a hustler
A pimp’s got a Cadi and a lady got a Chrysler
Black’s got respect, and white’s got his Soul Train
Mama’s got cramps, and look at your hands ache
(I heard the news today, oh boy)
I got a suite and you got defeat
Ain’t there a man you can say no more?
And, ain’t there a woman I can sock on the jaw?
And, ain’t there a child I can hold without judging?
Ain’t there a pen that will write before they die?
Ain’t you proud that you’ve still got faces?
Ain’t there one damn song that can make me
Break down and cry?

All night
I want the young American
Young American, young American, I want the young American
All right
I want the young American, young American whoa whoa

Young American, young American
I want what you want
I want what you want
You want more
I want you
You want I
I want you
I want what you want
But you want what you want
You want I
I want you
And all I want is a young American
Young American

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth ——— Songs that reference Richard Nixon

Since I blog about the seventies a bunch I thought this reference in songs would fit the loose format I have here…songs that reference Mr. Richard Milhous Nixon. This should be fun. We will start with this John Lennon song “Gimme Some Truth.” In this case “tricky dicky” will work as a reference.

No short-haired, yellow-bellied, Son of tricky dicky’s, Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me, With just a pocket full of hopes, Money for dope, money for rope

Don’t hold back John…tell us how you really feel. John was working on this song during the Let It Be sessions. He would record it two years later and it would be on the Imagine album. Lennon’s contempt for politicians came through rather well on this song.

George Harrison played guitar on this song. Their old friend from Germany Klaus Voormann (Bass player and Graphic Artist) played bass and the great Nicky Hopkins, who was on practically everyone’s records played the piano. Alan White who later joined Yes played drums. It was recorded at Ascot Sound Studios, Lennon’s recording studio at his Tittenhurst Park home, in May 1971.

John Lennon 1968

“I think our society is run by insane people for insane objectives, and I think that’s what I sussed when I was 16 and 12, way down the line. But, I expressed it differently all through my life. It’s the same thing I’m expressing all the time, but now I can put it into that sentence that I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American government and the Russian, Chinese, what they are actually trying to do and what they think they’re doing… I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing, I think they’re all insane!”

From Songfacts

There is a book written by Jon Wiener of the same title revealing a compilation of FBI files on Lennon, who was investigated as a drug user and radical. The FBI feared Lennon would disrupt the Republican National Convention in 1972.

Lennon referred to President Richard Nixon in this song as “trick-dicky,” a nickname that became popular during the Watergate hearings. There are many lyrical references to politicians as deceiving, slick, and cowardly characters.

Cover-ups such as the My Lai massacre in Vietnam frustrated Lennon into writing this song, demanding simple truth.

Mother Hubbard in the lyrics refer to the poem, which is itself, a cover-up:
“Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none”
The Old Mother Hubbard referred to in this rhyme’s words allude to the famous Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was the most important statesman and churchman of the Tudor history period in 16th century England. Cardinal Wolsey proved to be a faithful servant but displeased the King, Henry VIII, by failing to facilitate the King’s divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon who had been his queen of many years. The reason for seeking the divorce and hence the creation of the Old Mother Hubbard poem was to enable him to marry Anne Boleyn with whom he was passionately in love. In the Old Mother Hubbard song King Henry was the “doggie” and the “bone” refers to the divorce (and not money as many believe) The cupboard relates to the Catholic Church although the subsequent divorce arranged by Thomas Cramner resulted in the break with Rome and the formation of the English Protestant church and the demise of Old Mother Hubbard – Cardinal Wolsey. Another rhyme reputedly relates to Cardinal Wolsey.

“Softsoap” is slang – It alludes to liquid soap, likening its slippery quality to insincere flattery. Its figurative use was first recorded in 1830. “Yellow-bellied” is slang for cowardly.

George Harrison played guitar on this.

Gimme Some Truth

I’m sick and tired of hearing things from
Uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
Money for dope, money for rope

No short-haired, yellow-bellied,
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
Money for dope, money for rope

I’m sick to death of seeing things from
Tight-lipped condescending mama’s little chauvinists
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of watching scenes from
Schizophrenic egocentric paranoiac primadonnas
All I want is the truth just give me some truth

No short-haired, yellow-bellied,
Son of tricky dicky’s
Gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocket full of hopes
It’s money for dope, money for rope

I’m sick to death of hearing things from
Uptight short sided narrow minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth
All I want is the truth, just give me some truth