This is Pianothing, a song whose working title suited it so well we didn’t want to change it. It started life as a little electric piano riff and turned into something that’s musically poppy and lyrically bleak.
It’s about the helplessness I often feel reading the news, the horrors large and small that dominate social media and make me want to scream. We live in what should be a golden age of humanity and we’re encouraged to feel angry and scared. And that’s not who we are. Again and again we’re shown the very worst of humanity and told it’s a mirror, but it isn’t. I feel like Howard Beale in Network, yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”: my version, “This is not who we are!”
The full rant from Network is a superb bit of dialogue. Here’s an extract.
We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
We know things are bad — worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’
Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot — I don’t want you to write to your congressman, because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad. [shouting] You’ve got to say: ‘I’m a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!’
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!