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Steppenwolf’s ‘Monster,’ now more than ever

By Josh Richman
Friday, July 4th, 2008 at 11:13 am in General.

It’s a fine Richman family tradition, passed to me from my parents, to listen to the song “Monster” by Steppenwolf (better known for “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride”) every Fourth of July.

Actually three songs in one — “Monster,” “Suicide” and “America” — it’s an overview of American history which finds that, despite its missteps, this nation has offered the world a shining hope of freedom and justice, but only if we heed the dangers of apathy, corruption and arrogance. It calls listeners into the streets to defend that which we’re supposed to stand for. It’s the most patriotic song I know. And, released in 1969, it’s perhaps more relevant today than ever.

Let’s hope that when this song turns 40 next year, we’ll have resolved to fight together against the Monster.

(I didn’t create this video, and would’ve preferred to find one without some guy playing along on his guitar. But the disruption is minimal and I was more interested in posting the entire song than in vetting the video accompaniment. Make of it what you will.)

Full lyrics, after the jump…

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of kingdom and pope
Like good Christians, some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
And she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And ’til the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end
While we bullied, stole and bought our a homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
And she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The blue and grey they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has it’s share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But it’s protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And it’s keepers seem generous and kind
It’s leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind
‘Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
And now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told
Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watchin’

Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can’t understand
We don’t know how to mind our own business
‘Cause the whole worlds got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner
We can’t pay the cost
‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watching

America where are you now?
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters?
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster

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