Lunch Break: The Knitters, “Fourth of July”

Well, a happy Independence Day to you all, especially in these times of political strife and angst.

Being the progeny of immigrants who fled Germany with what little they could drag with them, leaving fortunes and family behind to perish at the hands of the Third Reich, I find it frustrating these days to see the perverted way in which the Tea Party and right wing have somehow co-opted the ideas of freedom that the then left wing Sons of Liberty–the bulk of whom were Deists, not Christians or Puritans at all–represented.

For the conservative faction of this country does not understand that during the revolutionary war they would have been Torries, embracing the edicts of King George (as the Bush family, who actually date back that far did, actively supporting the crown during the war of 1812), opposed to the path of independence chosen by Samuel  Adams, his cousin John, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.

Similarly, that same right wing does not seem to get that one of the reasons the American Revolution worked was that it was indeed a guerrilla war, fought on our own soil, against a potentially more dominant foe (England), but an absentee one. Meaning every time we think of invading a foreign land, like Iraq or Iran or Viet Nam, we should remember the three points the home field advantage affords in football.

In other words, it is tough to win an away war.

That said, I am a seriously patriotic and freedom loving first generation American who believes in liberty and justice for all, and that indeed all men are created equal, despite the initial success of our country being rooted in the slavery of African Americans and the genocide of the Native Americans.

For the truth is we all have our dark side: the problem emanates from denying that fact.

Which brings me to the great LA punk band X, founded by John Doe, DJ Bonebroke, and Exene Cervenka, who work a side project with Blasters founder Dave Alvin, and Jonny Ray Bartel of the band The Red Devils.

That band is The Knitters, who released a first album of roots music, Poor Little Critter on the Road in 1985, and then followed up with a second disc in 2005 entitled Modern Sounds of the Knitters.

When asked about the 20-year gap between albums, Doe deadpanned, “The Knitters, like their music, don’t do anything hasty. Since our last record’s been out for a while and it did pretty good, we figured it was just about time to put out another.”

What is better is the song I chose to acknowledge our Independence Day is not on either album the Knitters produced, in fact I could not even find a youtube of the band performing this great song, so I had to stick with this version by Doe and his cohorts, which I like a lot better than the couple of more countrified versions out there by Alvin and his mates.

The recording is a little rough, but I suspect just like our revolution was sort of a rag tag affair at its inception, and one that gathered momentum as it continued, so is the song.

It is also a standard of the Biletones set list, and if we had a video of us cranking it out, then I would have happily posted it.

But, we will have to stick with Doe, for he and mates do it justice despite the funky sound.

A safe and wonderful holiday and holiday weekend to all: just, as you enjoy BBQ and fireworks and savoring our freedom, remember the notion came from progressive (though admittedly imperfect) men who had a vision. Let’s stay true to that, and not the idiot demagogues who preach their vision of freedom, but dismiss any other.


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