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The Essay
Show #204
The State Song
David Gunn

The oriental industrial labor complex has a saying: "Got a problem? Sing a song!" And it's true. Every day at thousands of factories, mills, coffee shops and higher educational asylums up and down the coast of the Malay Archipelago, tens of millions of artisans, hirelings, scholars and sycophants arrive for work, and more often than not they arrive disgruntled. But before their passive discontent can manifest itself into dissension or downright enmity, personnel supervisors versed in the art of employmental rights chicanery guide the workers into large octagonal rooms in which giant music staves are affixed to the walls like decorative friezes from a Montovani Revival Church. There, they line up their employee charges in blocks of 16 -- eyes front, legs together, arms akimbo, ears peeled back and hair parted -- and then lead them in the official Factory Song. The lyrics and notes are projected more or less onto the staves as uplifting music leaks from an announcement speaker in the ceiling. Singing the song is mandatory; but how it is sung is of little consequence. No matter if the laborer feels annoyed and humiliated, or conversely happy and exhilarated -- the results reveal a significant improvement in worker production following the singing of the Factory Song.

For years, the songs were byproducts of advertising slogans, corporate mottoes, promotional jingles and even drab mission statements. But when these companies began to compete with more internationally glamorous industries that had entire departments devoted to maintaining employee complacency, most personnel supervisors were forced to reinvent the entire factory song system. Initially, they raided their region's best known music industry and hired karaoke composers by the hundreds to write new material. Unfortunately for them, these tunemongers couldn't identify for long with the company party line. After receiving a couple of handsome commission checks, they began to write songs about corporate greed, workforce downsizing and the brutalizing of labor unions. Quickly, the companies developed their own music guilds out of the ranks of their own indoctrinated-from-birth middle management trainees. Once again, factory songs spoke of loyalty to the company and devotion to their jobs and numb acceptance of their individual inconsequence. But now, the songs had a modern beat that appealed to the contemporary coolie, the rowdy roustabout, the junked-up jobholder.

Eventually, the factory song concept, like so many transistor radios, 8-track players and portable TVs before them, was snatched from the biogeographic shores of eastern Asia and repotted in America's visionary-challenged fields. And while the bootlicking corporate ditty has not yet taken root here, the self-fawning Official State Song has. Case in point: the current search for a new Vermont state song. The previous preference-by-default, "Moonlight in Vermont," was never officially sanctioned by the state legislature. Now, in a transparent attempt to shift the public focus away from partisan polemics and municipal bickering, a couple of weasels in the electorate have trotted out some cockamamie scheme for a new state song. It's a three-tiered competition open to rank amateurs, accredited school children and seasoned music professionals. The criteria are: it must be singable; it must be adaptable to sundry orchestrations; and it must reflect the essence of Vermont. Judges familiar with tin can alley constructs will pick the winner from ten finalists selected by State Song Headquarters. At this point in the competition, the K&D New Music Research Junta hereby offers its own entry.

(to the tune of the Repelican March)

If you filed a 1040-A, enter the income tax shown on line 25; or if you adjusted your federal tax ...

Got a woodstove in the pickup, a chainsaw in the bedroom, my mom's incarcerated for growing marijuana on state la-an-an-and

My reading skill's abysmal, I thought the French First Counsel was named for kitchen flooring that exploded, Linoleum Blownapart

Ver-hermont, it's icy; Ver-hermont it's vermin and mice-y; we're north of Georgia, Delaware, too, a state without a zoo; unlike Hong Kong, the winters are long, but now we have a state song

Oh VER, Ver-hermont, it's hilly, Ver-hermont, the cuisine is silly; our cacti, guava, Panama pants are imported from Peru; if we don't have food on our table we shoot tourists to make do

MONT, Ver-hermont, ramshackle, Ver-hermont, the home of the grackle, with license plates all green and tin a-rusting on our cars, no land use permits for salt mines, Act 250's just a farce

We're VER Ver ... em ... on ... t.

This state song entry, while just featured on the 204th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the show, its assigns, sponsors or, not surprisingly, Kalvos.