How This Music Flew WAAAY Over my Head at First

-By Warner Todd Huston

A few weeks ago, I published my first review of Tony Carey’s new Planet P album titled “Levittown.” In that review I made no bones about the fact that I hated it. I felt it was entirely anti-American, especially in context with today’s tumultuous times. I felt the political ideology underlying the lyrics was a sad, boring holdover from 1960s hippie culture, a blast from the past that seemed to have missed everything that has happened in the last 30 some years and one that certainly ignored the war that “radical” Islam had launched against America and the west since its biggest victory on 9/11. But since I wrote that review I have had cause to doubt my initial interpretation. In fact, I have realized that my reaction was based more on my own prejudices than in a closer examination of the album on its own merits.

So, here is my mea culpa. I have to admit that the true context and purpose of the album might have flown right over my head and I allowed my prejudices take over to fill in the blanks.

First of all, I have to say that I was not very proactive in linking “Levittown” with the previous album, “1931” (from 2003). I vaguely knew they form two parts of a trilogy, but I just didn’t take enough time to study the progression from one to the next. Taken together, they present a sort of history lesson of human made misery (is there any other kind?) and, of course, a warning of human stupidity. That, I did get, but what I didn’t get is that Carey wasn’t positing that this was only a fault found in western civilization. His is a story of human failings, not solely western ones. This trilogy was also supposed to be semi-autobiographical, so it is natural that it be set in the west of his experience. I was not aware of the semi-autobiographical intention with this project until now, though.

Before I go on with my changed impression, I feel compelled to reveal the prejudices that caused me to break bad on this one the first time ’round.

First of all, Carey is about 10 years older than I. When his first few Planet P albums came out in the 1980s I was in my early 20s and not politically interested. So, his themes (echoed in the newer works) did not resonate with me. I only considered Planet P Project (1983) and Pink World (1984) as just cool tunes. And since the 80s I never took the time to revisit the themes of the albums.

Now, since 9/11 I have been increasingly exasperated with “the world,” especially our feckless “allies” in Europe. I had a low opinion of them before (due to the fetid UN) but after 9/11 my attitude about Europeans has grown even more sour. Europe seems to be in NO way a friend to America, liberty, democracy or western traditions (The recent news that England sat on her hands in Iraq because she made deals with terrorists so as not to get her soldiers hurt is a prime example, not to mention Europe’s uselessness with Iran and the recent attacks in Georgia). Well, I mention Europe because, in case you didn’t know, Mr. Carey lives in Germany and has for several decades — a fact I had known previously.

Anyway, I say that because after I picked up “Levittown” the main prejudices that I came away with were these:

  • Carey is a 1970s American rocker (said hippie to me)
  • He’s an ex-pat American living in Germany (says fled America because he hates it to me)
  • The songs are all about western totalitarianism (says he sees none elsewhere to me)

With these prejudices in mind I read that into his every song on “Levittown.” Being used to the shallowness of most “art” these days, I never considered for a second that it was any deeper than that.

Now, today I find the war with Islam the chief world issue — and I do believe it is not a war with “radical” Islam, I feel it is a war with the entire concept of Islam. Islam is a political ideology, totally integrated with the religious. Our big world problem is not energy. Not global warming. Not Britney Spears. And, when I picked up “Levittown” and it seemed to me that, in this day and age, the only criticism he had was aimed solely at the west (as I perceived it, anyway),well all my above prejudices came back to me. All I could hear was a 70s hippie that fled the USA because he hated it, a guy who had a mindset that was stuck in 1968 when all that was evil in the world was spelled US and A. And since most of Europe STILL feels that way, I ascribed it all to Carey, as well.

But here is where this all went over my head. There is still a part three to come and the liner notes of part two clearly show that Carey “gets” the very same issues that motivate and worry me today. I quote from the back page of the CD liner:

“…’Levittown’ was originally intended to semi-autobiographically portray that (Carey’s generation). Then some other stuff happened, which changed the picture radically. All sorts of chaos, and then of course the Big One, 9/11.”

Carey also pointedly carps about the “fatcats in private jets” selling the “fear” of global warming. This, folks, could be none other than our snake oil selling former VP, Al Gore. This fact alone shows me that Carey isn’t taken, hook, line and sinker, with the vacuous leftist ideology popular with American academics and European elitists and their sycophantic mimics in the “art” community across the world.

Next I went back to the album with this in mind and re-read the lyrics. I had a new feeling of where Carey was coming from and it made me feel quite differently about his effort with “1931” and “Levittown.” That feeling has made me change my mind about the third installment, the one I initially claimed I would not bother with. Now, I need it to complete this picture so that I can discover just how Carey’s “history” completes itself. There is obvious hope that I may have misjudged this effort by only seeing it for its parts.

One more thing here. I still don’t completely agree with his overly dour look at western history. Taken in totality with human history, western history is a steady and amazing drive to enlightenment, moderation, and liberty that one can too easily miss with Carey’s dour lyrics. Certainly one might assume that Carey is purposefully driving his point home in the most stark way possible by highlighting all the bad the west is responsible for. But, I fear that such cynicism also too easily drives any mediation of the good by focusing so heavily on the bad.

Like I said before, I just get so sick and damn tired of west haters saying “well you guys had Hitler, so everything you’ve done is hypocritical.” This single minded self-loathing — the same self-loathing I now think I wrongly ascribed to Carey — is the sort of thing that is used by too many to paper over their lack of historical perspective and their inability to understand human nature. After all, even though man’s nature is basically a selfish, evil one, it is the precepts of capitalism, democracy, and Christianity as created by western culture that has mitigated toward a more enlightened attitude. I’d like to see some artist out there actually take that into consideration for a change, instead of acting as if everything we’ve ever done is all woe and damnation.

I am not sold that Carey isn’t a bit too pessimistic for me, but having looked closer at the first two parts of his trilogy (with a little help from a friendly elf) and more closely read the liner notes, I find that my initial off handed assessment might have been too hasty. I am cautiously optimistic that the final chapter of his trilogy will show that he isn’t as hateful toward western civ as I had at first assumed. So, while I am not completely sold on Carey’s viewpoint, I am no longer so sure that his is the ideology of the failed, self-loathing, hippie culture of the left that so infuses most of the vapid members of the entertainment industry (Hello Dixie Chicks).

I really do agree with him that we must not forget the lessons of our own history. But, to focus solely on our faults while celebrating none of our best is, I fear, a mistake that blinds us to the dangers we face from without.

In closing here I will selectively quote Abraham Lincoln:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

This is a message not just for Americans, but all people striving to improve our western values. From Greece to England, France and Germany to the United States of America and to the protean democracies of Eastern Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan, we must yield to those better angels of our nature. Yes, we should not forget those historical deficits, but don’t let those gremlins overshadow what makes us great, those ideals and philosophies that make our efforts sublime.

So, I will be waiting for part three of Go Out Dancing. As GOD is my witness.


Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as,, New Media Journal, Men’s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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