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Sunday Song Lyric:
It's not every day that a senior official in a Republican Administration quotes song lyrics from an irreverent, punk-influenced pop band. Then again, Stewart Baker is probably not your average Bush Administration official. Baker is assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Homeland Security. On Thursday, he quoted Bowling for Soup's hit song "1985" in a speech on immigration at the Heritage Foundation, as Kathryn Lopez noted on The Corner.


Bowling for Soup is a fun band. They write catchy rock songs with clever and inventive lyrics. I think of them as a Texas version of Blink 182 with less attitude and a better sense of humor. It also doesn't hurt that they have a song called "Ohio" that talks about Cleveland. In concert they put on quite a good show, mixing strong renditions of their album tracks, substantial audience interaction, and a good bit of humor. "1985" is probably their biggest hit to date (and it is one of their more amusing videos, available here).

Debbie just hit the wall
She never had it all
One Prozac a day
Husband's a CPA
Her dreams went out the door
When she turned twenty-four
Only been with one man
What happened to her plan?

She was gonna be an actress
She was gonna be a star
She was gonna shake her ass
On the hood of Whitesnake's car
Her yellow SUV
Is now the enemy
Looks at her average life
And nothin, has been all right

Since Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19-, 19-, 1985

She's seen all the classics
She knows every line
"Breakfast Club", "Pretty In Pink"
Even "St. Elmo's Fire"
She rocked out to Wham!
Not a big Limp Bizkit fan
Thought she'd get a hand
On a member of Duran Duran

Where's the mini-skirt made of snakeskin?
And who's the other guy that's singing in Van Halen?
When did reality become T.V.?
What ever happened to sitcoms, game shows
On the radio was . . .

Springsteen, Madonna
way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19-, 19-, 1985

She hates time, make it stop
When did Motley Crue become classic rock?
And when did Ozzy become an actor?
Please make this stop, stop,
And bring back

Springsteen, Madonna
way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on MTV
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 1985
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Stew spent way too much time in the '90s going to Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conferences and similar events defending NSA in the Crypto Wars. Contact can be corrupting.
8.6.2006 9:44am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
1985 was a great year, the Gippers 2d term, first Calvin &Hobes strip,births of Keira Knightley and Michelle Trachtenberg, and Pakistani Bowler Wasim Aklam bowled 10 wickets in a match against New Zealand, a feat still unmatched in Cricket History.
8.6.2006 11:29am
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
1985 saw the release of Meat is Murder, the Smiths' best album, and Fables of the Reconstruction, the best R.E.M. album. That Bowling for Soup song, though... gag.
8.6.2006 12:00pm
JohnO (mail):
Stewart was a law partner of mine before he went back to the government. Good guy, and one of varied interests. Not surprised he is quoting punk bands. Gabba gabba hey.
8.6.2006 12:42pm
U.Va. 2L (no longer a 1L) (mail):
For my money, I'll take "The Girl All the Bad Guys Want" over "1985." But I'm not sure I'd be spending my money on Bowling for Soup anytime soon.
8.6.2006 1:14pm
Stewart baker (mail):
There actually was a point to the quote. I suggested that for DHS, the lyrics should read: "We've got our attention fixed/ on 19, 19, 1986" -- year of the failed immigration reform, whose consequences we're still dealing with, and whose mistakes we're trying not to repeat.

I too like the song about Cleveland, in which the singer tries to win his girl back to Texas from Ohio with the thoroughly clueless y-chromosome argument that "the Mexican food sucks north of here anyway."

Stewart Baker
8.6.2006 2:16pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Bowling for Soups song sounds suspiciously close to Billy Joels "We didn't start the fire" abortion." "JFK blown away, what more do I have to say?" no wonder Christie dumped him.
8.6.2006 2:56pm
Anonymous Jim (mail):
How much is DHS like "Debbie"? Does DHS want to shake it's ass on the hood of Whitesnake's car?
8.6.2006 3:16pm
fishbane (mail):
I hadn't heard of them, thanks for the pointer. The lyrics are amusing, but I haven't been able to get excited about that sort of sound since The Descendents/All. I guess that's what I get for being crotchety in my 30's.
8.6.2006 3:20pm
liberty (mail) (www):
If you love eighties music, try this. Hours (or maybe 1/2 hour) of fun. I am terrible with lyrics but I scored pretty high, as the eighties is my decade and the music is very memorable (sticks in your head).
8.6.2006 3:58pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
When I first heard the song, I thought it was a Weird Al Yankovic parody.
8.7.2006 3:53am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Same thought as Drackmann. Was the similarity intentional?

Such are the dreams of the everyday housewife (except when Glenn Campbell was singing it it was just theoretical to me -- in 1985 I was 2 years out of college and near the top of my game, and now I'm getting ready for my 25th reunion still living paycheck to paycheck, trying with my spouse to keep up with three kids, and coming to terms with the notion that this is as good as it's going to get, so there's an awful lot of resonance.)
8.7.2006 12:08pm
deepstblu (mail):
When I first heard the song, I thought it was a Weird Al Yankovic parody.

Until I read this post, I thought it was Weird Al (the singer even sounds like him--and nothing like Billy Joel...)
8.7.2006 12:38pm