Driving Through Mythical America

Song lyrics by Clive James



Four students in the usual light of day
Set out to speak their minds about the war
Unaware that Eddie Pru was on the way
Things had to snap before they knew the score
They were driving through mythical America

     A Rooney-Garland show was in the barn
     Fields was at the Pussycat Cafe
     No-one had even heard of Herman Kahn
     And Jersey Joe was eager for the fray

Four students had to take it in their stride
And couldn't feel the road beneath the wheels
Of the car they didn't know they rode inside
Across the set and through the cardboard hills
They were driving through mythical America

     They sold their Studebaker Golden Hawk
     And bought a Nash Ambassador Saloon
     Bogart said "Even the dead can talk"
     And suddenly the coats were all raccoon

Four students never knew that this was it
There isn't much a target needs to know
Already Babyface had made the hit
And Rosebud was upended in the snow
They were driving through mythical America

     Gatsby floated broken in the pool
     The Kansas City Seven found a groove
     Barrymore and Lombard played the fool
     And Cheetah slowly taught John Wayne to move

Four students watched the soldiers load and aim
And never tumbled they were on the spot
Moose Molloy pulled ten years on a frame
The dough was phoney and the car was hot
They were driving through mythical America

     Henry Ford paid seven bucks a day
     Rockwell did the covers on the Post
     FDR set up the TVA
     And the stars rode silver trains from coast to coast

Four students blinked at ordinary skies
But the sunlight came from thousands of motels
A highway through the night was in their eyes
And waiting at the roadblock Orson Welles
They were driving through mythical America

     Four students never guessed that they were through
     Their history had them covered like a gun
     It hit them like a bolt out of the blue
     Too quick to grasp and far too late to run
     They crashed and died together in the sun

     They were driving through mythical America


       Clive James, an Australian who now is a famous novelist and popular talk show host in Britain, wrote those lyrics for the English folk musician Pete Atkin (1971). The lyrics are a veritable kaleidoscope of American popular culture images and icons, with the refrain -- of the four students -- being an obvious reference to the Kent State martyrs.

         Published under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.



Published October 23, 2000
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