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Conservative Rock Songs, Deconstructed (Is there such thing as conservative rock music?)
National Review ^ | 05/31/2010 | John J. Miller

Posted on 06/01/2010 7:19:26 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

 

If you seek proof that liberal-arts scholarship is mostly a stinking heap of rubbish, behold the Journal of Popular Culture. Here are three recent examples of articles that have appeared in its dispensable pages:

Queer Dress and Biased Eyes: The Japanese Doll on the Western Toyshelf,” by Judy Shoaf (February 2010);

SpongeBob SquarePants: Pop Culture Tsunami or More?” by Jonah Lee Rice (December 2009); and

There’s Genderqueers on the Starboard Bow’: The Pregnant Male in Star Trek,” by Stephen Kerry (August 2009).

Yet the ultimate testimony to the journal’s shining irrelevance appears in its current issue:

Rockin’ the Right-Wing Blogosphere: John J. Miller’s Conservative Song Lists and Popular Culture after 9/11,” by Michael T. Spencer.

Yes, it’s about me.

I guess I should be flattered. Spencer, who is a Ph.D. candidate in American studies at Michigan State University, thinks that my three-page article from a four-year-old issue of National Review is worth a 22-page response in an academic publication. And it isn’t just any old 22-page response. It’s a 22-page response that accuses me of “investing meaning in rock music through a dialectical process of negotiated use.”

This guy has my number. That’s exactly how I pitched the story to my editor.

Here’s a little background. Many moons ago, I came up with the idea of publishing a list of great rock songs, such as “Taxman” by the Beatles, whose lyrics express right-of-center sentiments. I asked NRO readers to submit nominations. The result was my article: a ranked list of 50 conservative rock songs, published in the June 5, 2006, issue of NR. On the interwebs, we posted the original article plus a sequel.

I knew the article would generate interest and controversy. It wound up going as close to “viral” as anything I’ve ever written. It’s not my best article, my most important article, my most influential article, or my favorite article, but it’s probably my most talked-about article. The New York Times covered it. Stephen Colbert joked about it. Even Pete Townshend had something to say.

Unfortunately, Spencer doesn’t add much to the conversation. Here’s one of his major points, a profound insight that he has uncovered through his scholarly investigation: “The motivation in constructing such a list is fervently political.”

Thanks, Captain Obvious! Perhaps at some point in the not-too-distant future, a college or university will smile upon this contribution to the sum of human knowledge and grant tenure.

At least this claim of Spencer’s is correct. The list of conservative rock songs really did have a political motivation. His other notions are textbook examples of moonbattery. Did you know that post-9/11 America — the one that elected a black president — has suffered “a resurgence of racism”?

Ho-hum. When does class end?

Spencer describes my article as yearning for “a Gingrichian return to the so-called stability of the previous era: the 1950s.” This statement is bizarre on several levels. For starters, it’s hard to square with the actual contents of the list, which has only two songs from the 1950s (“I Fought the Law” and “Wake Up Little Susie”). That’s a whopping 4 percent of the total, as Prof. Archimedes Derbyshire is preparing to demonstrate in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. If the list were really trying to transport us back to the 1950s, it would have had more Pat Boone and less Sex Pistols.

Then there’s this business about “a Gingrichian return.” A Ph.D. candidate in American studies who wants to drop such words as “Gingrichian” perhaps should try to gain a passing familiarity with the collected utterances of Newt Gingrich. Much can be said of them, but if the word “Gingrichian” means anything, it suggests a future-shocky optimism about markets and technology — not a stern-faced call for going back to the Old Ways of Doing Things.

In Spencer’s hands, of course, “Gingrichian” isn’t a descriptive adjective as much as an in-group putdown. Good liberals are supposed to recoil from it. When they hear it whispered in the faculty lounges of Michigan State University, liberal-arts professors lead their grad-school lackeys in a 1984-style Two Minutes Hate. At least that’s what sources tell me.

I could go on ad nauseam, in the spirit of a 22-page response to a three-page magazine article, but enough is enough.

Allow me a final point, gentle reader. Mark Bauerlein of Emory University has written persuasively on the problem of a professoriate that produces too many dissertations, books, essays, reviews, and 22-page journal articles. In just one broad field, languages and literature, the number of academic publications has exploded. They’ve gone from about 13,000 in the good old Gingrichian 1950s to 72,000 in the Spencerian now.

This creates a terrible conundrum for young academics. In a quest to say something new amid so much scholarly babbling, they’ve burrowed into to niche topics and proposed outlandish theories. Their need for original content is so desperate that one of them now has resorted to my list of conservative rock songs — a subject more suited to boozy dorm-room discussions than serious academic consideration.

Dude, we’re talking about the lyrics of Metallica songs.

Students pay a price for this. It may be fun to debate rock songs, but the boom in academic publishing also correlates with boredom in the lecture halls. As Bauerlein shows, college students are increasingly disconnected from the intellectual lives of their professors. They spend less time on homework, less time with their professors outside the classroom, and so on. These are the sad consequences of an academic class that values jargon, hyperspecialization, and the phony cerebralization of pop culture.

If you don’t like my list of conservative rock songs, that’s fine with me. But next time, just make your own playlist.

John J. Miller is NR’s national correspondent


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bloggers; conservative; conservatives; leftuniverse; music; rock; rockandroll; rockmusic; rocksongs
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1 posted on 06/01/2010 7:19:27 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Taxman - The Beatles

Trees - Rush


2 posted on 06/01/2010 7:24:14 AM PDT by stockpirate ("......When the government fears the people you have liberty." Thomas Jefferson)
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To: All

“Live Free or Die” by Talon...


3 posted on 06/01/2010 7:27:50 AM PDT by Maverick68
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To: stockpirate

Revolution — the Beatles

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
Ah

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right
all right, all right, all right
all right, all right, all right

I ask myself this question — who wrote those lyrics ?

If it was John Lennon, how did we get from that to that other utopian trite — IMAGINE ?


4 posted on 06/01/2010 7:29:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Doubt he is a conservative song writer, but Don Mclean’s American Pie, comes to mind when I think of the way things are going and the current administration.


5 posted on 06/01/2010 7:29:28 AM PDT by Post-Neolithic (Money only makes Communists rich Communists)
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To: SeekAndFind
"I'd Love To Change The World" by Ten Years After -- in an odd sort of way.

The opening stanza says it all . . .

Everywhere is freaks and hairies,
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity?
Tax the rich, feed the poor;
Till there are no rich no more.

6 posted on 06/01/2010 7:31:26 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: SeekAndFind

What’s the deal with Sponge Bob? I watch it with my son, and I’ve only seen goofy humor.


7 posted on 06/01/2010 7:31:44 AM PDT by goodwithagun (My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy's car.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“Only A Fool Would Say That” - Steely Dan


8 posted on 06/01/2010 7:31:51 AM PDT by Thrownatbirth (.....Iraq Invasion fan since '91.)
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To: SeekAndFind
“Good Clean Fun” Allman Brothers
9 posted on 06/01/2010 7:32:46 AM PDT by Phlap (REDNECK@LIBARTS.EDU)
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To: SeekAndFind

Voice of America (VOA) - Sammy Hagar.


10 posted on 06/01/2010 7:33:12 AM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Never trust anyone who points their rear end at God while praying.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“Neighborhood Bully” by Bob Dylan

About how Israel is called a “bully’ yet they are the only ones keeping the peace.


11 posted on 06/01/2010 7:35:41 AM PDT by Recovering Ex-hippie (Ok, joke's over....Bring back Bush !)
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To: SeekAndFind

We’re not gonna take it. (Even if they won’t admit it. Truth is Truth)


12 posted on 06/01/2010 7:35:58 AM PDT by epluribus_2
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To: SeekAndFind
Rush - Freewill
Rush - Something for Nothing

You can't have Something for Nothing
You can't have freedom for free
You won't get wise with the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams may be

13 posted on 06/01/2010 7:37:17 AM PDT by MP5 (The Only Easy Day was Yesterday)
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To: Alberta's Child

I was thinking about the Ten Years After song too. Strange that it didn’t make the list.


14 posted on 06/01/2010 7:37:22 AM PDT by Ticonderoga34 (Free Obama's Birth Certificate!)
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To: stockpirate

Rush: 2112, Hemispheres, Red Barchetta


15 posted on 06/01/2010 7:37:34 AM PDT by gigster
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To: SeekAndFind

“Mike as taught courses on American radical thought in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department and on entertainment media and popular culture in the American Studies program. In Spring of 2010, he’ll be teaching IAH 201- “Global Flows of Literature, Music, Art and Popular Culture from a U.S. Perspective.”

http://michaeltspencer.vpweb.com/AboutMe.html


16 posted on 06/01/2010 7:37:35 AM PDT by Mojave (Ignorant and stoned - Obama's natural constituency.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Hey...What do you want from life?....-The Tubes >;o)


17 posted on 06/01/2010 7:38:13 AM PDT by DGHoodini (Iran Azadi!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!

18 posted on 06/01/2010 7:38:57 AM PDT by spectre (Spectre's wife)
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To: Recovering Ex-hippie
About how Israel is called a “bully’ yet they are the only ones keeping the peace

Well, isn't Bob Dylan Jewish ?
19 posted on 06/01/2010 7:40:02 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Alberta's Child
Tax the rich, feed the poor;
Till there are no rich no more.

Sounds like marxist socialism....great song, though.

20 posted on 06/01/2010 7:40:08 AM PDT by newfreep (Palin/DeMint 2012 - Bolton: Secy of State)
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To: spectre

Is Les Miserable considered rock now ?


21 posted on 06/01/2010 7:40:44 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

“Don’t Tread On Me” - Damn Yankees


22 posted on 06/01/2010 7:40:52 AM PDT by OB1kNOb (When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: SeekAndFind

Ted Nugent “Kiss my Ass”


23 posted on 06/01/2010 7:40:58 AM PDT by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office)
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To: SeekAndFind

Won’t Get Fooled Again - The Who


24 posted on 06/01/2010 7:43:18 AM PDT by Texan Tory
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To: goodwithagun
Pretty much just goofy humor, but I personally think it's well done. Occasionally they slip in some adult level humor similar to what Warner Bros did with Bugs Bunny.
25 posted on 06/01/2010 7:43:43 AM PDT by jaydubya2
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To: SeekAndFind

“Spirit in the Sky” — Norman Greenbaum


26 posted on 06/01/2010 7:44:31 AM PDT by Michael.SF. (Even Hitler had Government run health care, but at least he got the Olympics for Germany)
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To: SeekAndFind
I would add Triumph's Fight the Good Fight to that list as well.
27 posted on 06/01/2010 7:45:06 AM PDT by MP5 (The Only Easy Day was Yesterday)
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To: SeekAndFind
Bodies - The Sex Pistols - an anti-abortion song.

John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten said it was neither pro or anti but more about personal responsibility. Their lyrics were very libertarian, anti-hypocrisy, anti-corrupt govt. He hated the Labour Party and the hypocrisy of hippies. Johnny Ramone aka John Cummings or The Ramones essentially invented punk rock because he was the leader and driving force behind the band. Huge Repub, Reagan fan and GW Bush fan. He constantly fought with the lib singer Jeff Hyman who was a lib and had learning disabilities or some problem.

28 posted on 06/01/2010 7:45:28 AM PDT by Frantzie (Democrats = Party of I*lam)
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To: SeekAndFind
After he broke away from his mystic/Hippy phase of the late 60's to early 70's, Morrison produced a lot of good music that had a conservative, God loving theme

Wavelength, is a personal favorite of mine, but this teme appears in numerous other LP's after that.

Morrison though may not qualify as a "rocker" but he does produce a lot of great music.


29 posted on 06/01/2010 7:50:58 AM PDT by Michael.SF. (Even Hitler had Government run health care, but at least he got the Olympics for Germany)
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To: SeekAndFind

Lennon sang “count me in”.


30 posted on 06/01/2010 7:51:10 AM PDT by Truthsearcher
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To: SeekAndFind

bump


31 posted on 06/01/2010 7:52:28 AM PDT by VOA
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To: SeekAndFind

Bobby was born Jewish but meanders into Christendom on occasion


32 posted on 06/01/2010 7:52:43 AM PDT by wardaddy (No mosque at ground zero....are these NYers totally nuts?...what would wake them up?)
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To: stockpirate

Red Barchetta (sp?) by Rush...
freedom to not follow the herd.


33 posted on 06/01/2010 7:53:26 AM PDT by VOA
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To: Post-Neolithic

RE: American Pie

Many people have been trying to decipher the meaning of this song for ages and Don Mclean to this day, simply refuses to tell us what he meant by it.

The most common explanation of the lyrics his this is a lament on the death of what used to be a Rock and Roll era that was good clean fun ( as personified by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the rest ). Their death seems to have caused the deterioration of rock as he once knew it.

Many American AM and FM rock radio stations released printed interpretations and some devoted entire shows discussing and debating the song’s lyrics, resulting in both controversy and intense listener interest in the song.

Some examples are the real-world identities of the “Jester”, “King and Queen”, “Satan”, “Girl Who Sang the Blues” and other characters referenced in the verses. Also Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and, The Big Bopper are often thought to be referred to as The Father, Son and, The Holy Ghost.


34 posted on 06/01/2010 7:53:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Thanks so much for posting! It is an amazingly good list, to my surprise, I must be candid enough to add.

Esp. the Beach Boys in there (my all time faves); and the correct interpretation of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ delighted me.


35 posted on 06/01/2010 7:53:44 AM PDT by Ayn And Milton
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To: Truthsearcher
Lennon sang “count me in”.

Is it true that Forrest Gump was John Lennon's inspiration for the song IMAGINE ? :)
36 posted on 06/01/2010 7:54:58 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

How does one define the arrangement of tempo, beat and melody as either conservative or liberal?


37 posted on 06/01/2010 7:56:54 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: SeekAndFind
The Conservative by the Orlons
38 posted on 06/01/2010 7:57:46 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: Rebelbase
How does one define the arrangement of tempo, beat and melody as either conservative or liberal?

I don't think they judge them by those attributes. They judge them by the lyrics.
39 posted on 06/01/2010 8:00:59 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: Michael.SF.

Tesla and Steppenwolf have some pretty good songs that may be considered conservative.


40 posted on 06/01/2010 8:03:15 AM PDT by Caribou ( www.ktok.com Red State Radio free streaming. RIP Mark Shannon)
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To: SeekAndFind

Eagles - Get Over It...

“Get Over It”

I turn on the tube and what do I see
A whole lotta people cryin’ “Don’t blame me”
They point their crooked little fingers ar everybody else
Spend all their time feelin’ sorry for themselves
Victim of this, victim of that
Your momma’s too thin; your daddy’s too fat

Get over it
Get over it
All this whinin’ and cryin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it

You say you haven’t been the same since you had your little crash
But you might feel better if I gave you some cash
The more I think about it, Old Billy was right
Let’s kill all the lawyers, kill ‘em tonight
You don’t want to work, you want to live like a king
But the big, bad world doesn’t owe you a thing

Get over it
Get over it
If you don’t want to play, then you might as well split
Get over it, Get over it

It’s like going to confession every time I hear you speak
You’re makin’ the most of your losin’ streak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak

You drag it around like a ball and chain
You wallow in the guilt; you wallow in the pain
You wave it like a flag, you wear it like a crown
Got your mind in the gutter, bringin’ everybody down
Complain about the present and blame it on the past
I’d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass

Get over it
Get over it
All this bitchin’ and moanin’ and pitchin’ a fit
Get over it, get over it

Get over it
Get over it
It’s gotta stop sometime, so why don’t you quit
Get over it, get over it


41 posted on 06/01/2010 8:06:35 AM PDT by Lando Lincoln (Reconciliation will happen in November.)
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To: Michael.SF.
“Spirit in the Sky” — Norman Greenbaum

The lyrics include,

I've never been a sinner, I've never sinned.
I've got a friend in Jesus.
It seems as though the writer was attempting to create a gospel song, but he displays hie ignorance of Christian teachings and beliefs.
42 posted on 06/01/2010 8:12:33 AM PDT by Fiji Hill
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To: SeekAndFind
I know I'm an 80's music geek, but I have to add the song All You Zombies by Hooters.
43 posted on 06/01/2010 8:17:20 AM PDT by MP5 (The Only Easy Day was Yesterday)
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To: newfreep

I think those lines are presented in a sarcastic fashion, especially in the context of the previous lines.


44 posted on 06/01/2010 8:20:00 AM PDT by Alberta's Child ("Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark.")
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To: Fiji Hill

Taken as a whole the song sends a very positive Christian message.


45 posted on 06/01/2010 8:23:07 AM PDT by Michael.SF. (Even Hitler had Government run health care, but at least he got the Olympics for Germany)
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To: SeekAndFind

Some articles:
http://article.nationalreview.com/281095/rockin-the-right/john-j-miller

http://article.nationalreview.com/281322/encore/john-j-miller

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/ggutfeld/2009/01/06/conservatives-rock/


46 posted on 06/01/2010 8:25:22 AM PDT by Mozilla
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To: Fiji Hill
It seems as though the writer was attempting to create a gospel song, but he displays hie ignorance of Christian teachings and beliefs.

Correct. Greenbaum is an avant garde hippie/Jewish type. He just writes what he feels like writing. I am partial to "Canned Ham" however, and when I have my own nationally syndicated radio show, the opening will be my theme.
47 posted on 06/01/2010 8:27:53 AM PDT by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics)
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To: Ayn And Milton
‘Sympathy For The Devil’ - my 2nd fav Stones song.

#1 - "Gimmee Shelter" and perhaps the greatest Rock and/or Roll song ever recorded.

48 posted on 06/01/2010 8:29:06 AM PDT by newfreep (Palin/DeMint 2012 - Bolton: Secy of State)
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To: SeekAndFind

Fred Bear - Ted Nugent

VOA - Sammy Hagar


49 posted on 06/01/2010 8:31:10 AM PDT by RockinRight (I can see November from here!)
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To: OB1kNOb

“Don’t Tread On Me”
-Metallica


50 posted on 06/01/2010 8:35:15 AM PDT by RandallFlagg (30-year smoker, E-Cigs helped me quit, and O wants me back smoking again?)
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