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In the Eyes of the Beholder

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In the Eyes of the Beholder

The Contrasting Views of American Culture between Foreign and American Musicians

The crowd of over 60,000 bursts into a thunderous uproar as the stadium suddenly becomes dark and anticipation rises like the temperature under a blazing Georgian July sun. After a seemingly infinite wait, one solitary image suddenly lights up from the seventy-foot video screen: an American flag. The Star Spangled Banner then booms from the massive speakers with the crowd growing frantic in the waiting for what is next. The national anthem fades out with “o’er the land of the free...” and a brief silence exists before a fierce drum beat begins, pounding away as the crowded frenzy is at an ecstatic high. A voice soon booms across the stadium, “and the home of the braaaaave” rattling it like a kitchen cupboard full of plates and glasses when a train passes by. The stage lights up and there on the massive stage set are U2. Lead singer Bono is lit up by a spotlight dressed in all black leather, sunglasses, and an American flag bandana. After a screeching guitar intro from The Edge, Bono breaks into the lyrics for the song “Bullet the Blue Sky,” an outsiders take on America. The show has begun.

As with beauty, what actually is American life and culture is in the eye of the beholder. There is a large discrepency between the views of Americans on their own lives and that of inhabitants of other nations. The American dream of opportunity and freedom is well illustrated in its popular music. On the other hand, foreign artists usually take a more critical approach to American life with their views coming from the opposite end of the looking-glass. The contrasting views bring up an interesting que...

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...is band sees is his reality and epitomizes his view of America and its culture. What is yours?

Works Cited

Mr. Showbiz. Wall of Sound: Tom Petty. 1997. <http://www.wallofsound.com/artists/tompetty/index.html> (6 June 1998).

Passengers. Original Soundtracks I. Island Records, Inc., 1995.

Rolling Stone. Pop Review. 1997. <http://zoonation.com/webhtml/poprev_02.htm> (8 June 1998).

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Damn the Torpedoes. MCA Records, Inc., 1981.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Into the Great Wide Open. MCA Records, Inc., 1991.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. MCA Records, Inc., 1976.

U2. The Joshua Tree. Island Records, Inc., 1987.

U2. Pop. Island Records, Inc., 1997.

U2. Rattle and Hum. Island Records, Inc., 1988.

U2. War. Island Records, Inc., 1983.
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