On a long enough timeline, pretty much every Kid Rock song ever written could end up on my list of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. That’s because Kid Rock writes really shitty songs. The reason I’m thinking about “Amen” (from his oh-so-humbly titled Rock ‘n’ Roll Jesus album) today, though, is because I was thinking of it yesterday when I wrote about the Drive-By Truckers and their vast (vast!) superiority to Kid Rock.
There are basically two modes in which Kid Rock operates: 1) swaggering, cock-rocking asshole mode and 2) preachy, sensitive, I-wish-I-was-worldly asshole mode. “Amen” falls solidly into category number two because, as the title suggests, it features Kid Rock (I think his real name is Bob Ritchie, although it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that he’s related to fellow Motor City asshole Ted Nugent) rattling off a list of grievances with the world, proposing half-assed solutions to those grievances, and then giving himself a big ol’ “amen” for being such a smart, problem-solving dude. Sounds pretty stupid, right? It kinda reminds me of the way George W. Bush did things when he was president.
As with many of the worst songs I’ve ever heard, the stupidity of “Amen” lies mostly in what it has to say. Musically, it’s just as predictable and dull as every Kid Rock song (everything Kid Rock has ever done has been done better by the Beastie Boys, Bob Seger, and/or Lynyrd Skynyrd. And when you’ve been bested by Bob Seger, it’s time to hang up your fucking spurs, cowboy). But the lyrics, sweet Zombie Jesus, the lyrics on “Amen” read like one of Sarah Palin’s books. Which is to say they’re exactly what you would expect when a barely literate person tries to sound intelligent.
My first and most prominent lyrical beef with “Amen” has to do with the following line: “our nation’s race relations/ got me feeling guilty of being white.” I’m pretty sure I’ve griped about this before, but Kid Rock can pretty much fuck himself up the nose for writing that. He’s a millionaire white guy who made a career out of being an ignorant, stoner fuckhead. I don’t care if he feels “guilty of being white.” I’m sure it’s really difficult for him to walk down the street as a wealthy white man and feel the judgmental stares of people who were beaten up by cops for trying to vote as recently as fifty fucking years ago. If an awareness of American history as superficial as Kid Rock’s clearly is makes him feel guilty for what white people did to pretty much every other race on the continent, I’ll give that a hearty “Amen.” I certainly don’t feel “guilty” for being white but I will damn sure not ignore what white people (who have basically ruled the world for several hundred – if not several thousand – years) have done throughout history. My ancestors treated black people like they weren’t even human and to my way of thinking, anybody who treats anybody else as less than human should get fucked. History can give you guidance on how to treat people in the future, Kid Rock. So quit moping about your unbearable whiteness and take another dip in your swimming pool full of money. Asshole.
Seriously. The white guilt line just… it makes me damn near apoplectic. He’s basically saying, “How dare you hurt my wittle feelings because my ancestors treated you like three-fifths of a human being.” Goddammit.
Anyway, there’s more dumb to go around on “Amen.” The real problem with the song is that Kid Rock is trying to denounce all the bad people he sees in the world while telling the rest of us to act like good Christians, urging “faith in human nature/ our creator and our savior.” This pisses me off too; I know Kid Rock is trying to be a good little rock ‘n’ roll Jesus here and love everybody or whatever, but it’s only a further revelation of his ignorance that he assumes everyone he’s addressing is going to share his views on creators and saviors. We can all still be nice to each other and not have the same religion (or any religion at all, for that matter).
To be as fair as I’m gonna be, Kid Rock’s intentions are (probably) pretty admirable – he’s trying to make some sort of universally positive anthem that basically urges people to be nicer to each other. Also, as one verse suggests, he wants you to stop being so uptight about his strong desire to get high. Which brings up a problem with the song’s scope. He goes from talking about starving kids, soldiers at war, and pedophile priests to admonishing someone for getting “uptight” about him smoking dope. That’s trying to do way too much in one song, Kid Rock, and let’s face it – you have so many songs that are blatantly about the objectification of pussy that the whole “world-weary troubadour” thing is just a few miles beyond your capabilities.
The thing is, Kid Rock wants to have his asshole cake and eat it too – he wants to carry on his image of being a swaggering, anonymous-sex-having bastard and weld to that the idea that he is also full of wisdom and sensitivity. I know the comparison isn’t fair (if you ever thought Bollocks! was about being fair, you’re gonna find yourself in a head-on collision with the Disappointment Train very soon), but how many Joe Strummer songs (with the Clash, the Mescaleros, or even the Latino Rockabilly War) are about pussy? If you guessed “zero” you’re almost right – “Lover’s Rock” is the only punk song I’m aware of that suggests that real men are down with cunnilingus (I don’t think I’m being a pig here by suggesting that any time I can justify using the word “cunnilingus” in a Bollocks! post, it’s a good day indeed). But Strummer certainly spent a lot more time writing about people and how they treat each other than he did about wanting to “fuck you like I’m never gonna see you again” (that gem is from “So Hott”, which Kid Rock spells with two t’s for no reason at all. Expect that song to appear on this list later).
The coexistence of “Amen” and “So Hott” on the same album is par for the Kid Rock course. He surrounds the (not at all) deep, faux-sensitive songs with shallow, largely misogynist songs about titties and drugs and it comes off as the sort of thing an asshole would do to try to bag one or two (slightly) upstanding chicks. Kid Rock is probably up to his sketchily-bearded chin in trailer-trash trim (hey, I made a rhyme!) but he’s a magnet for that sort of thing. The real challenge for a guy like him is convincing a girl with even a little bit of book-learnin’ that he’s a whore with a heart of gold and “Amen” is the perfect vehicle for the attempt. That’s why all of his albums have a Jesus ballad on them, surrounded by songs about banging random women. Don’t be surprised if his next album is called I Love Jesus, Now Fondle My Balls.
<I was going to write a better ending to this post, but it’s Friday and I really don’t think I can top “I Love Jesus, Now Fondle My Balls.” Have a good weekend, everybody!>