The Conscience of the King, Dept.
So, I'd recorded the All Together Now: A Celebration of Service TV special that aired March 28 on NBC. A little bit of propaganda to goose the notions of service and volunteerism among the couchlocked viewing audience. All the living former presidents were in attendance, and, for some reason, Bush XLI was being particularly fêted. Or "fetid," I'm not sure which. So, Bill, Jimmy, Dubya and Poppy were all on display, along with the no-account Bushes, old Barbara and hot Barbara, etc.
From the attendees, you might imagine that the entertainment on offer would not be boundary-pushing. Whoever the fuck Miranda Cosgrove might be gave a little speech about service or something. Cee Lo Green came out to sing a verse of "Soul Man," then introduced his uncle, Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, who duetted with him. Brad Paisley, who we know is "country" 'cause he had the good taste to sport both an inappropriately large white cowboy hat and a silver-glitter-and-paisley Telecaster, sang "Try a Little Kindness." Lots of reaction shots of the prezzies. GHWB was looking very Monty-Burns-ish. Dubya unsurprisingly looked lost, as if Laura had snookered him into going out by telling him they were going to see The Wiggles. Bill, minus Hill who actually has paying work, was eyeing Miranda Cosgrove like a cartoon cannibal eyes Bugs Bunny. Jimmy and Rosalynn looked marooned on an island of fatuous.
Several speeches later, Carrie Underwood is introduced. I expect her to sing "Jesus Take the Wheel" or "Jesus Go Out for Burgers" or some other of her simultaneously pious and patriotic numbers. Out she struts in a snug'n'shiny black suit with three-quarter sleeves over a pirate shirt. Cut to the prezzies: old Barbara and Dubya and the rest are bobbing their heads to the intro music in expectation of some sweet Muskogee truisms about the flag and the Lord.
Instead, Carrie plants herself mid-stage and launches into
Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead.
If anyone with even slightly less Red State cred than Carrie U. had addressed these lines at the assembled, she would've been run out of town on a rail after a vigorous horsewhipping. Instead, Carrie stands there, unsmiling, staring up and out at the prezzies and sings
Instant Karma's gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin'
Join the human race.
Umm, wow. Okay. Maybe she? the producers? Satan? thought that the "Well we all shine on/Like the moon and the stars and the sun" bit made this song up-tempo and happy and appropriate for the occasion. Or maybe Carrie Underwood is the most subversive woman in America. But to tell this particular band of men, to tell the honoree and his skeeze-bag sons seated to his right and left, that karma is hovering over them like the Eumenides over Orestes? Oh snap, girl. That's better than Colbert reading Dubya at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.
I don't own any of her albums. I didn't root for her the year she won Idol. I don't know the backstory to this performance. But for four minutes this week, I was a huge Carrie Underwood fan.