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I MISS AMERICA

In many ways this is one of Harry's saddest songs. I see its main theme as that of exploitation and the destruction of the American dream.

So many novelists and musicians over the years have tried to dissect and discuss this "American Dream". Harry to me is one of the few songwriters/poets to come anywhere near its real meaning.

The destruction of the American Dream means different things to different people. There are no answers only questions.

Here Harry is stating that all that glitters is not gold. There are so many recognisable themes within this song.

Outward beauty is there for all to see, but what about the inner soul?

In this song Harry is tortured by the expectations of others. Sad people, who are clutching at their dreams through others "Please be our American Dream."

But the dream becomes sullied. The beauty queen wins her titles not because of what she is but because she is willing to sell her soul to the judges.

Into the scenario enters the all-American guy. Bulging muscles, the sports star personified. The O.J. Simpson of his day.

And the same scenario is played out again. The great sportsman is simply saleable merchandise, treated like a king not because of humanity but because of the monetary asset.

So surprise surprise the two come together. It is their destiny. But can there ever be happiness for such mass manipulated people? Harry leaves us in no doubt that the answer is no. He speaks of being in separate beds with a borrowed dream. The imagery is stark and tough.

But wait. Is there hope in the last verse. Once again Harry uses the innocence of children in order to hold on to the dream. To me this song ends on a note of hope. While there are children in the world all is not lost.

       By the time I was thirteen
       I started taking shape.
       At eighteen I was so beautiful
       That the strangers started to gape.
       They said "Enter the ultimate contest
       If you're as gorgeous as you seem."
       They said "Please, please, please
       Be our American dream."
       But late that night beneath the grieving moon
       There's a dazzling sight in my motel room
       For a grunting judge with his bulging eyes
       I give my all for his cherished prize.

       Oh why, oh why?
       I'm Miss America
       Crying on TV
       Silver clad in satin rags,
       But everything's where it should be
       Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

       After they showed me the game ball
       They told me put on weight.
       They told me I'd be powerful
       They told me I'd be great.
       And my Uncle Sam he would coach me
       His helmet on my head
       And they said "Please, please please, please
       Please win and beat the spread."
       But the new game plan that the owners had made
       Meant that win or lose there would be a trade.
       For the team's become a real gold mine
       And the kid's sold off for the bottom line.

       Oh why, oh why?
       Mr. America
       Sweating on TV
       The winner's joy from the battered boy
       For everything's where it should be
       Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

       At last we've come together
       Call it marriage or civil war.
       If it brings us to battle, babe
       It must be worth our fighting for.
       Though today came up cloudy
       There will be other days.
       "Ah, please, please, please, please
       What else is there to say?"
       But in plywood spread
       By a plastic stream
       And in separate beds with a borrowed dream
       And with questions wide and the silence deep
       We take two pills so at last we'll sleep.

       Oh why, oh why?
       Mr. and Mrs. America
       Our story's on TV
       Can you hear canned laughter
       For everything's where it should be
       Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

       Well, my little boy he told me something
       Just the other night.
       He whispered it as I kissed him
       Before I turned out the light.
       And of course he said it simple
       As only children can
       He said "Daddy, daddy, daddy, please
       I'm ready to dream again."
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