July 27, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Let’s protest Eric Clapton and Van Morrison’s lockdown song

Van Morrison and Eric Clapton’s new anti-lockdown tune, “Stand and Deliver,” the fourth such song released by Morrison since the pandemic began, is unlikely to become the U.K.’s holiday No. 1. Or anyone’s No. 1, for that matter.

First of all, COVID-19 cases are blossoming in the United Kingdom; second, the song is, well, meh. Extremely meh.

Clapton performs “Stand and Deliver,” which Morrison wrote. It’s a standard bluesy riff familiar to fans of both artists. Unfortunately, the lyrics sound like they came from a Speak & Spell. Let’s roll the tape:

Stand and deliver
You let them put the fear on you
Stand and deliver
But not a word you heard was true
But if there’s nothing you can say
There may be nothing you can do

Do you wanna be a free man
Or do you wanna be a slave?
Do you wanna be a free man
Or do you wanna be a slave?
Do you wanna wear these chains
Until you’re lying in the grave?

I don’t wanna be a pauper
And I don’t wanna be a prince
I don’t wanna be a pauper
And I don’t wanna be a prince
I just wanna do my job
Playing the blues for friends

OK, we get it. Musicians are among those having the most difficult time, financially, during the pandemic. Unless you’re talking about Taylor Swift, who’s been pretty damn busy releasing new albums “Folklore” and “Evermore.” But we digress.

Fact is, “Stand and Deliver” ain’t an earworm.

Morrison and Clapton no doubt have supporters of their cause, which calls for a return to normalcy where musicians can earn a living via live performances. In November, the “Moondance” musician asked the government of Northern Ireland to provide “a timeline and roadmap for the recommencement of live music.”

All earnings from “Stand and Deliver” and from Morrison’s three previously released anti-lockdown tunes are going to a foundation set up to benefit struggling performers, and a petition posted Nov. 4 is getting closer to its goal of 1,000 signatures.

But since the musician made his road-map demand, the novel coronavirus has not exactly cooperated. Cases in the U.K. dropped from a mid-November high of 33,470 to 11,299 on Nov. 24, then turned around and headed toward a new peak: There were 35,928 new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. on Sunday. Moreover, there is a new, more-infectious strain of the virus circulating in parts of England — and it’s suspected also in Northern Ireland, where Morrison lives.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot proceed with Christmas as planned,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday, announcing a return to strict lockdowns in many parts of the country. Instead of seeing lockdown rules loosening for the holiday, as had been planned, Londoners packed trains Sunday as they raced to get out of town in time to beat new travel restrictions.

Morrison’s prior anti-lockdown song — cleverly titled “No More Lockdown” — which he himself performs, plainly states the musician’s take on the governmental response to the worst pandemic since the Spanish flu of 1918.

“No more lockdown,” he sings. “No more government overreach / No more fascist police / Disturbing our peace / No more taking our freedom / And our God-given rights / Pretending it’s for our safety / When it’s really to enslave.”

The United Kingdom — which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — has a population of 56 million, compared with just under 40 million for California. On Sunday, the U.K. announced 35,928 new COVID-19 cases, while California reported 46,474.

Northern Ireland, where Morrison lives, has about 2 million residents and announced 505 new cases, which are included in the U.K. total. A new lockdown will begin there after Christmas.

The Northern Ireland health minister has dubbed the “Brown-Eyed Girl” performer’s anti-lockdown songs “dangerous” and told Rolling Stone last week, “His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists. The tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

A better suggestion for a holiday protest song? Try Iggy Pop’s “Dirty Little Virus,” which officially drops at noon Pacific Monday.

“I was moved to write a direct lyric, not something too emotional or deep, more like journalism: who, what, when, where,” Pop said in a video about the song, noting that he left out the “why” because that got “too complex.”

“It was a stopper for me,” he continued. “It’s been the big thing happening in my life and everybody else’s, I reckon, for almost a year now. If there was still a man of the year, it would be the virus.”

“Dirty Little Virus” lyrics:

Dirty little virus
Sleeping inside us
Gone are the paydays
Gone are the play dates

Dirty little virus
Sleeping inside us
Oh, what a grind
I’m losing my mind.

Nailed it, Iggy, with a catchy chorus to boot. Now let’s all have a safe holiday, shall we?