Size Matters

Little big man: Jakob Dylan's cover of "Heroes" is the most abject mis-reading of a song this decade

Because we're not allowed to imagine that the song is about us in a way we otherwise might, "Ghetto Supastar" makes us hear it as passed through Senator Bulworth, or through the otherwise ludicrous Halle Berry/Warren Beatty romance. And at our distance, we have to hear the politics of the music itself, in a way we otherwise might not. The cross fader is the crossbreeder: Mixing country and western, inner-city narratives, and blue-eyed disco, it sells the idea that miscegenation will cure our ills. And we are healed, we are free. For four minutes we are completely sold.

No matter what the radios broadcast this spring, there's really only one song and it's 19 years old. The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" is the secret soundtrack playing behind every news show, in every schoolyard, each time you see a blank-faced kid on a magazine cover. It pours in waves through Pearl, Mississippi, and West Paducah, Kentucky; through Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Springfield, Oregon. The New York Times' description of the graduation dance in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, sounds exactly like a set instruction from a screenplay: "Sobbing girls in satin dresses and terrified boys in neckties huddled outside the hall."

When I was in eighth grade, everything felt too close; I wanted life to be farther away. Or maybe I just wanted to see the scale of things and manage to receive it in its entirety. Pretty much what the kids in Edinboro must've wanted as eighth grade came to its outsized conclusion, "dancing to 'My Heart Will Go On,'" as the Times told it, "when the first of several booms rang out in the hall," the picture dissolving into tiny fragments of panic and pistol-fire.

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