I was a Maoist intellectual in the music industry

I always knew that I could seize the world's imagination
And show the possibilities for transformation
I saw a nation in decay, but also a solution: Permanent cultural revolution
Whenever I played my protest songs the press applauded me
Rolled out the red carpet, parted the Red Sea
But the petit bourgeois philistines stayed away
They preferred their artists to have nothing to say

How did I pass my time on earth? Now it can be revealed:
I was a Maoist intellectual in the entertainment field

I showed the people how they lived and told them it was bad
Showed them the insanity inside the bureaucrat
And the archetypes and stereotypes that were my stock in trade
Toppled all the ivory towers that privilege had made
Though I tried to change your mind I never tried your patience
All I tried to do was to point out your exploitation
But the powers that be took this to be a personal insult
And refused to help me build my personality cult

How did I pass my time an earth, what on earth got into me?
I was a Maoist intellectual in the music industry

I left the normal world behind and started living in
A hinterland between dissolution and self discipline
I burned the midnight oil to build my way of seeing
A miner at the coal face of meaning
The rich despised the songs I wrote which told the poor their worth
Told the shy to speak and told the meek to take the earth
But my downfall came from being three things the working classes hated:
Agitated, organised and over-educated

How did I pass my time on earth, how did I bear witness?
As a Maoist intellectual in the entertainment business
And how was I treated in this world and in this industry?
As a Maoist intellectual in a business would be

I became a hotel doorman, I stood there on the doormat
Clutching my forgotten discs in their forgotten format
Trying to hand them out to all the stars who sauntered in
The ones who hadn't been like me, who hadn't lived in vain
I gave up ideology the day I lost my looks
I never found a publisher for my little red books
When I died the energy released by my frustration
Was nearly enough for re-incarnation

But if I could live my life again the last thing that I'd be
Is a Maoist intellectual in the music industry
No, if I could live my life again I think I'd like to be
The man whose job is to stop the men who think like me
Yeah! If l could live my life again that'd be the thing to be
The man who plots the stumbling blocks
In the lives of the likes of me!

Lyrics submitted by delial

I Was A Maoist Intellectual song meanings
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  • +1
    General Comment

    For some reason, this song has always reminded me of the folk singer/protest singer Phil Ochs, who was a handsome fellow (often compared to & said to be in competition with Dylan) whose politics crippled him after Nixon's triumph in 1968 & the continuing war in Vietnam. But of course this could be about any deeply political/countercultural singer, especially ones that (unlike Ochs) never strayed from their politics.

    Ochs never professed Maoism, as far as I know. Maoist thought was Mao Zedong's spin on communist thought, & helped both make Marxism more Chinese in character while distancing itself from the Soviet Union, who were unfriendly to Mao's China. This little box is no place to discuss the intricacies of Maoism, but I note that many famous left-wing entertainers flirted with Maoism, most prominently John Lennon & Yoko Ono in the 1970s, so it's probably that - & also the fact that "Maoist intellectual" rolls off the tongue much more fluidly that "Trotskyist" or "Marxist-Leninist Intellectual."

    This is Momus (who took his name from the Greek god of Satire) at his most cynical & biting. The record companies frown on the good-looking, articulate singer for obvious reasons - & he chides them for not helping him "build his personality cult." & the working classes hate him for being the three things they (according to Momus) loathe: agitated, organized & over-educated.

    In the end, he has to abandon his political thought when age steals his good looks, & certainly Momus' most ironic & sour statement about the whole situation is that the musician not only completely repudiates his life upon death, but he also wishes he could have actively opposed people like him in his life.

    Sharp-edged enough to draw blood, from the young Momus in his prime, with all the music - which sounds like it's been stolen from a perverted carnival - performed by Nick Currie himself. Awesome stuff.

    vchamberlainon March 15, 2008   Link

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