The Lede gives us the lowdown on how they do political rhetoric in Prague:
To anyone who heard echoes of AC/DC when the Czech prime minister assailed President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, calling it “a road to hell” on Wednesday: You were right.
It turns out that the heavy metal band AC/DC played a show in Prague last week which was attended by Mirek Topolanek, the country’s prime minister. Mr. Topolanek, who is now just a caretaker prime minister, after losing a vote of confidence this week — one unrelated to his flights of rhetorical fancy — told a Czech newspaper that he was influenced by one of the group’s most famous songs, “Highway to Hell,” when he veered off script this week during his speech before the European Parliament and criticized Washington’s stimulus spending.
“AC/DC played here last week,” Mr. Topolanek told the daily Lidové Noviny. “And their cult song ‘Highway to Hell’ might have led me in that very improvised speech to use the phrase ‘road to hell’.” According to the Czech newspaper, Mr. Topolanek’s prepared remarks included the less resonant phrase “the way to destruction.”
Fair enough, but what about those of us who heard echoes of Chris Rea? He, after all, sang specifically about a “road to hell” – not just a highway. It makes a difference. AC/DC’s hell-oriented highway sounds quite fun:
Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Aint nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I’m on the highway to hell
By referencing this, Topolanek was presumably implying that the U.S. stimulus package is (i) poorly thought-out (“don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme”) and (ii) protectionist (“asking nothing, leave me be”). Now compare this with Rea’s bleaker vision:
Stood still on a highway
I saw a woman
By the side of the road
With a face that I knew like my own
Reflected in my window
Well she walked up to my quarterlight
And she bent down real slow
A fearful pressure paralysed me in my shadow
She said ‘son what are you doing here
My fear for you has turned me in my grave’
I said ‘mama I come to the valley of the rich
Myself to sell’
She said ‘son this is the road to hell’
On your journey cross the wilderness
From the desert to the well
You have strayed upon the motorway to hell
So, had Topolanek been thinking of Rea rather AC/DC, his critique would have taken a Leftist/populist turn, implying that the U.S. stimulus represents a sell-out to the rich (i.e. Wall Street). The stuff about the desert might also be interpreted as a complex reference to Iraq’s impact on the American economy – while the “motorway to hell” might be a nod to plans to invest stimulus dollars in America’s infarstructure.
Next time Mr Topolanek decides to free-style in the European Parliament, he had better think through the potential for textual deconstruction first.