We count down the Flag and Flagpole top 10 music chart.
10. Flag Day by The Housemartins
Whilst this is typical of Paul Heaton’s left wing political narrative, the lyrics in this amazingly crafted song call out directly to the listener to wake up to social injustice. Despite the serious message this remains a sublime and poignant pop tune that didn’t widely receive the critical acclaim it probably deserved.
Here is a link to the Peel Sessions version of this very underrated song which in this Flag Geek’s opinion is the best recorded version available online.
9. King of Pain by The Police (or as they’re now known – ‘Sting’)
This song is from the band’s last studio album and is a muse by their tantric frontman’s break up from his wife. Littered with metaphors relating a man’s soul to nature, the opening verse conjures up an image of a flagpole flying a flag that has seen better days – ironically like The Police at this time in their career.
“There’s a little black spot on the sun today
It’s the same old thing as yesterday
There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top
There’s a flagpole rag and the wind won’t stop”
8. Rage Against the Machine – Woodstock ‘99
Never far from controversy, RATM have used flags in several of their high profile performances to compliment their politically charged lyrics. In what Tom Morello later described as “the low point of nu metal”, at a universally derided festival they finished their set with a rather predictable burning of the US flag during a laboured delivery of their signature tune – Killing in the Name Of.
7. Zac Brown Band – Irish Flag Faux Pas
I must admit that I had to look this one up and wasn’t aware of this incident but this Country music band from Georgia made an ill-advised choice of flag for a performance in Dublin – best explained in this article – but managed to pull things around at the end (phew).
6. Eminem – Untitled (2010)
Yep – an Eminem song is listed in a Flag Geek blog.
This ‘hidden track’ is largely renowned as one of Mr. Mathers’ finest pieces of work but due to the nature of the controversial flagpole reference falling very much under the ‘Parental Advisory’ category, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Google if you want to explore this further.
Kurt Cobain was a huge advocate of this band and, like many grunge lovers like myself, inspired a whole new wave of Meat Puppet fans who bought the back catalogue and got to enjoy exceptional guitar progressions such as those found on this track from 1985.
There are literally hundreds of songs which mention flags but for me this one deserves a place in this top 10.
“Pistachios turn your fingers red
Row your way back home you know
Roll right into bed
Pick it up in a week or two
Flags jump out your head
Row your way back home you know
Roll right into bed”.
By all accounts amazing live, this song was from one of my favourite albums in recent years (Carrie & Lowell). In the context of the album, this song is phenomenally powerful and gives me goosebumps every time.
“Raise your right hand
Tell me you want me in your life
Or raise your red flag
Just when I want you in my life”
From probably the greatest lyricist of all time, this particular song is a mixture of surreal and typically socio-political references of the time with a mention of a flagpole that actually inspired this particular blog. I was lucky enough to see him live in America in 2005 and whilst he never played this particular song, his prolific back catalogue meant I was happy with classics including Mr. Tambourine Man and Like a Rolling Stone. Sheryl Crow should also get an honourable mention here for a cover she did in the 1990s which very much did the original justice.
“Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bedroll,
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole,
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul,
To the old folks’ home and the college”.
A late 1990s American indie tune that will be very familiar with fans of the sitcom “Peep Show” starring David Mitchell. Still a toe tapper over 20 years after its release.
From the country crooners 1976 album “One Piece at a Time”, this song is typically straightforward at first glance and sung in the storytelling manner which has made Cash so popular over decades of country music. Rather than dissect the lyrics like an over eager GCSE student, why not simply enjoy them for what they are and rest assured that – unlike Johnny’s old friend at the hardware store – Harrison Flagpoles have not sold out of flagpoles.
“I walked down past the courthouse square three blocks or maybe four
Run into my old friend there who runs a handy hardware store
I said mornin’ Lon what’s the good word
He said Abraham Lincoln Lone Ranger Mickey Mouse and I’m sold out of flagpoles
I popped the top off a soda pop laid a quarter on the bar
I said inflation is a dirty dog my payday sure ain’t goin’ far
Liberty said Lonnie E Pluribus Uni in God we trust and I’m sold out of flagpoles
I said hey Lonnie did you see Evel Knievel jumpin’ on TV
Jumped 13 buses with his machine reckon he could jump 14
No doubt said Lonnie winners keep on winnin’
Even losers win sometimes and I’m sold out of flagpoles”
So there you have it.. the flag & flagpole top 10. Are there any of your favourites that I have missed?
The Flag Geek’s actual identity is unknown. Some say they have felt a presence whilst looking up at the large Union flag outside Harrison Flagpoles HQ. Others think he/she is just made up to add an element of mystery at the end of a blog. Perhaps we’ll never know. But if you would like The Flag Geek to delve into something flag or flagpole related on your behalf then simply email email@example.com and they might be able to enlighten you. Or you can visit our flagpoles page if you’re really only here for the flagpoles.