Ball of Wax 38 Songs of Protest: Scott Pinkmountain and the Golden Bolts – “Baghdad Blues”

Scott Pinkmountain makes his Ball of Wax debut, backed by up by the muscular Golden Bolts rhythm section, with this beautifully discordant and dissociative tune. The performance is blistering, keening, heart-piercing: Scott’s voice and guitar scream and cry in counterpoint, and the bass and drums plod along with him slowly, methodically, like a dying thunderstorm, as he sings lyrics composed mostly of mundane first-world slices of life: “I bought a new pair of shoes today . . . they’re cut in the modern style. . . . I ran into an old friend / he said his mortgage payments ache . . .” The title and musical setting let the listener in on the fact that this song isn’t about his shoes, or his friend’s mortgage, of course, and once in a while the specter of what he’s not singing about – what most of us aren’t thinking about – hovers in the periphery with lines like “I know there’s something in the back of my mind / I’m really busy though, I haven’t got the time to find” before the chorus brings us back to blissful unawareness: “Anyway, it’s a beautiful day / Where did I . . . what was I starting to say?” It’s not so much a protest against whichever war in Iraq we might happen to be fighting at any given time, it’s a protest against the apathy and solipsism that most of us are guilty of much of the time, and which makes things like perpetual war (and anything else we might choose to protest) possible, if not inevitable.

Or maybe it’s just a killer rock tune, and a great way to close out this particular compilation. Anyway, it’s such a beautiful day . . .

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