One of my all-time favorite songs is from the Canadian band Rush (as if anyone didn't know they were Canadian), called "New World Man" from the 1982 album Signals. Although that album heralded the beginning of Rush's crazy 80's synthesizer period, I still absolutely love it; it's kind of rare for me to enjoy every single track on any given record. At the time of this writing, only Frank Zappa's 1973 MASTERPIECE Overnight Sensation leaps to my mind.
The song is apparently about the USA, and was written with the same attitude that a loving woman would feel toward a wayward man; maybe a lover, maybe a relative, but nonetheless cares about them enough to not only point out their good points, but also to gently remind them of the areas that they’re completely blowing it. Anyway, here goes:
He's a rebel and a runner
He's a signal turning green
He's a restless young romantic
Wants to run the big machine
I took this as describing America as a rebellious upstart that’s full of youthful energy and is chomping at the bit to not only play with the big dogs of the world, but to kick their asses, too.
He's got a problem with his poisons
But you know he'll find a cure
He's cleaning up his systems
To keep his nature pure
There are a couple of ways I interpret this one. Could it be indicating the Puritanism that still seems to be alive and well, or could it mean Prohibition? Either way, the subject has some form of toxicity that seems to be plaguing them.
Learning to match the beat of the Old World Man
Learning to catch the heat of the Third World Man
Now that the New World Man has achieved some of his goals, he also realizes that with power comes responsibility, and that people are looking to him for guidance and leadership, but aren’t finding it.
He's got to make his own mistakes
And learn to mend the mess he makes
He's old enough to know what's right
But young enough not to choose it
He's noble enough to win the world
But weak enough to lose it
He's a New World Man...
This part is self-explanatory and reflects very well how The New World Man is often on the horns of a dilemma.
He's a radio receiver
Tuned to factories and farms
He's a writer and a ranger
And a young boy bearing arms
He's got a problem with his power
With weapons on patrol
He's got to walk a fine line
And keep his self-control
This means, to me, that the USA is a great and diverse nation, full of factories and farm fields, but the power and wealth is starting to go to his head. Armed to the teeth, he is starting to lose his way, and is becoming one of the things he has previously fought bitterly.
Trying to save the day for the Old World Man
Trying to pave the way for the Third World Man
This part points squarely to involvement in both World Wars and the subsequent assistance granted to many countries to help rebuild them. His efforts elsewhere have been met with mixed success.
He's not concerned with yesterday
He knows constant change is here today
He's noble enough to know what's right
But weak enough not to choose it
He's wise enough to win the world
But fool enough to lose it
He's a New World Man...
The final part sums it up very well. Sometimes I can’t tell if we are the smartest people in the world or the absolutely dumbest ones, and our nation seems to be a mass of glaring and often incompatible contradictions, but it’s where I happen to live, so I’ll deal with it as best I can.