Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Yeasayer, "Ambling Alp"

Unless you're a fan of the sweet science, you might never realize that Yeasayer's "Ambling Alp" is about U.S. boxing champion Joe Lewis and two of his most famous opponents, Italy's Primo Carnera (nicknamed the Ambling Alp) and Germany's Max Schmeling. In the 1930s, the three boxers became unwitting symbols of America's fight against fascism in the years before World War II. Sings front man Chris Keating:

Oh, Max Schmeling was a formidable foe
The Ambling Alp was too — at least that's what I'm told
But if you learned one thing, you've learned it well
In June you must give fascists hell
They'll run, but they can't hide.

These pugilistic undertones give historical context to what is otherwise an inspirational pop song full of fatherly advice, like "Stick up for yourself, son/ Never mind what anybody else done." What's next, Yeasayer? A love song from the Franco-Prussian War? One can only hope.