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The Dead Hand Journal


Here's a live performance from the Philadelphia Folk Festival 2004 

FLAG DECAL By John Prine

Well while digesting Reader's Digest
C7 F
In the back of a dirty book store,

A flag decal, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.

So I picked it up and I ran outside
C7 F
And I slapped on my windowshield,

And if I could see old Betsy Ross now
I tell her how good I feel.

ch. Oh but your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little wars.
Now Jesus he don't like killin'
No matter what the reason if for,
And your flag decal won't get you
G7 C
Into Heaven any more.

(Well) I went into the bank this morning
and the teller she said to me,
"If you join our Chrismas club
we'll give you ten of those flags for free."
So I didn't mess around a bit
and I took her up on what she said.
And I stuck those stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.


(Well) I got my car so stickered up
That I couldn't see.
Then I ran it right upside a curb
And then right into a tree.
By the time they called a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing at the Pearly Gates said...

Final Ch. Oh but your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little wars.
Now Jesus he don't like killin'
No matter what the reason is for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Thanks to

Post Rating


# Anonymous
Saturday, May 5, 2007 10:47 AM
The trouble with protest songs is that they substitute cute jingoism for actual thought. It is unfortunate but true that this song constitutes a pretty accurate example of the level of rhetoric on the Left.

Now, I know I just walked into a trap. I understand that, in the Leftie playbook, the standard response to the above statement is mockery... see The Daily Show for plenty of examples. And it's all very funny, and aren't we just soooo much more clever than those red-state hicks, right?

Except, in between all the mockery and protest songs, somehow all those ridiculous assertions never get addressed.

C, without getting into the details, on a number of occasions over the past few weeks you've lectured me rather sternly on the precise words I use to present my arguments. And other things.

Within this context, I'm a little stunned that you've elected to grace us—a group of veterans and patriots—with what is effectively a musical form of flag-burning.
# Anonymous
Saturday, May 5, 2007 11:18 AM
What is this, Collette? I would never come into your home and embarrass you and your guests at the dinner table with inappropriate and uninvited comments about your core beliefs. And I wouldn't urinate on your floor, spit on your carpet, befoul your bedroom, or molest your children, either.

So how in Hell do you think you can come in here, sit on my living room floor and sing a protest song that mocks everything that I hold precious, and for which I put my life on the line for twenty-three years? How dare you?

Now that I've gotten that off my chest...really, Collette, why do this? I know you're not stupid, so why act like you don't have a clue?

There are plenty of things to protest with the present administration and the war – but does the protest have to take the form of inaccurate, disingenuous, flatulent noise? Instead of making an issue of the propaganda driven distinction between Democratic (upper case), democratic (lower case), and Democrat, why don't you enter into a substantive discussion about the value of preemptive strikes versus waiting for the other guy to strike first, or profiling a group of people because all the perpetrators of terrorism belong to this group, or profiling an ethnic group because over 75% of prison occupants belong to this group, or the value of taxing the successful to support the less successful – but you get my point, don't you.

Are you really willing to toss out a bit of sloganeering to see what sticks, or are you willing to do something that actually makes a difference?

Do you really think I am mistaken about anthropogenic climate warming? Then talk with me about this. Let's examine the facts and the misinformation. Perhaps we all can learn something.

Do you really think war is not the answer? Then talk with me about this. Let's examine the facts and misinformation. Perhaps we all can learn something.

Do you really think a flat tax or perhaps a national sales tax in lieu of an income tax is a bad idea? Then talk with me about this. Let's examine the facts and misinformation. Perhaps we all can learn something.

Do you have an independent point of view about a subject that you are passionate about? Go for it. Let's talk, and learn.

But in the meantime, do you think you could stop trying to disrupt my neighborhood, cease the misrepresentations and personal attacks, quiet the protest songs...I think you get the point.
# Anonymous
Wednesday, May 9, 2007 1:39 AM
Alright, that song is not just a song. For me to start off with that claim is a weak argument. I lose two points.

As I said in my first defense of this, my First Friday Protest Song post, John Prine's "Flag Decal" points out the absurdity of blind faith, empty cheerleading and unquestioning support of authority, as most protest songs do. The 'dirty little war' he refers to isn't the War on Terror, as much as the description fits, but the Vietnam War.

I should have written that in my introduction to the article. I'll do better this Friday.

It's clear that you and I have a seperate concept of 'patriotism.' My patriotism isn't about practicing idolatry towards a flag or any particular person. Singing about a flag decal is NOT burning a flag, no matter how many times you say it is. To me blind faith and unquestioning support is Maoist.

But it's also clear that I stepped all over your unquestioning support of authority by posting a funny song, and that you feel justified in shouting me down. I can see how some people may think their lives are nothing without their faith, and to call it into question is terrible to them.

I'm very sorry that you are so deeply offended by my point of view. While I'm not here at your invitation, I certainly see the need to consider that you are something of a tender flower when it comes to reading opinions that aren't your own and so I should be more careful. I will consider your feelings in the future, to help keep your blood pressure down.

Have a good day,
# Anonymous
Wednesday, May 9, 2007 10:24 AM
Good Grief guys, a song is a song and it was Friday. That was a good song and a funny song. It criticized blind faith and the notion that patriotism was no more serious than rooting your favorite football team.

Flag-burning? I gotta say you are just a little reactionary.

It's no mystery where I come from; and I was allowed to write anything I wanted to here.

Please find something to be happy about. Summer's right around the corner.

PS I won't profile races and classes of people because that is bigotry and I don't support the concept.
# Anonymous
Wednesday, May 9, 2007 12:22 PM
If you really think a song is just a song, Collette, then your critical thinking is shallow beyond belief!

Hip-hop rap that refers to women as Hos and Bitches, and promotes violence against women and the police, and glorifies unfettered drug use is fundamentally evil. It's NOT just a song.

Folk music that mocks the fundamental values of patriotism and the things that this nation stands for, and which the flag represents, is NOT just a song. It is fundamentally wrong, and has no place in cultured society.

And, yes, it is analogous to flag burning. It is an in-your-face repudiation of nearly everything I stand for, and you had no right to bring it to this forum. You are here to represent your point of view, and to defend that point where appropriate. Following the analogy in my earlier comment, you are welcome to sit at my table and discuss the issues with me, argue with me, and present your own point of view, but you are NOT welcome to bring your unwashed friends to sit on my living room floor and chant protest songs.

I'm happy about many things, just not having to deal with an in-your-face-protest song, instead of intelligent debate.

And regarding profiling groups of people, your stock left-wing comment is so typical, but rather than go at it here and now, I'll write a complete article on the subject so you can take time to think more in-depth about your response.
# Anonymous
Thursday, May 10, 2007 2:33 AM
Generalizations like "[this song] points out the absurdity of blind faith, empty cheerleading and unquestioning support of authority, as most protest songs do" diminish your credibility Collette, and simply make communication more difficult. Similarly, defining my patriotism as "practicing idolatry towards a flag or any particular person" has no basis in anything I have ever said or written here or anywhere else. Nor can you justify writing that I have "blind faith and unquestioning support" of anything at all. And when you write that it is "clear that [you] stepped all over [my] unquestioning support of authority by posting a funny song, and that [I] feel justified in shouting [you] down,' you are just compounding your loss of credibility.

Incidentally, the way you couched your words was that "[your] patriotism is not...," so that mine is, by implication. I already remarked about that implication, but now I want to ask you a direct question. How do you define your patriotism?

I never said I was offended by your point of view. I said I was offended by your behavior in presuming that you could come into my place with your inappropriate protest song, when the purpose of that invitation was for us to engage in a discussion. I am bewildered by your continuing to insist that the song you posted was just a "funny song," without recognizing that it is way more than this. The song called "High Hopes," about the ram who butted the dam until he broke it is a "funny song." The song "Supercalafragilisticexpialidocius!" is a funny song. The song "Hilee, hilo, hilup-up-up" is a funny song. But "Flag Decal" is a vicious, in-you-face- repudiation of patriotism and the American flag, which represents American ideals. It is not funny, it is not intended to be funny, and I'm not being a "tender flower" by not wanting this kind of garbage on The Dead Hand. I'm surprised that you, as a patriot, find it acceptable.

Finally, what kind of apology says that you are sorry for how I reacted to your offensive behavior? Your genuine apology would be for you to apologize for your offensive behavior, without qualification.

Is it so difficult for you to understand that a guest does not behave offensively? You are here to present your point of view, not to insult your hosts' beliefs, disparage their careers, or distort their points of view. Present your point of view, and we will present ours, and discuss the differences. When you disagree with a point of view you find here, present your argument, but don't distort the point of view you are attempting to counter. Just counter it, if you can.

One final note. The Dead Hand is NOT Jason's site, it belongs to both Jason and to me. We make joint decisions, except in the technical arena where Jason's knowledge exceeds mine. Make no mistake, Collette, you are here because WE invited you, and because WE enjoy your company.

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