'Stand and Deliver' Lies: Eric Clapton and Van Morrison Owe Everyone an Apology

Denying Duo Van Morrison and Eric Clapton, whose song about freedumbs was widely criticized this past week.
Denying Duo Van Morrison and Eric Clapton, whose song about freedumbs was widely criticized this past week. Handout/Getty
We should’ve been able to make it through the year without something like Van Morrison and Eric Clapton’s “Stand and Deliver” hitting the music circuit and repopularizing the two privileged, out of touch old white dudes, but here we are.

The 4.5-minute, call-and-response style diatribe is not just objectively bad (first rule of writing: limit vague pronouns, second rule: be interesting) but it’s a dangerous call to action for the anti-maskers and virus deniers of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison and Clapton could’ve done something productive with their time, or at least not spent it encouraging irresponsible behavior (we’ll get to the lyrics soon). While it’s not an artist’s responsibility to make relatable content for each and every fan, at the bare minimum, we should hold those with such sizable public platforms accountable for their words and actions as it relates to the lives of millions of people.

Take Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton, for example. For starters, they don’t use their social media accounts to promote those on the fringes of the medical community who denounce the virus as unfounded, as Morrison does. A recent tweet of his reads: “We should applaud the bravery of those in the medical profession challenging the official narrative,” followed by a retweet introducing a “Dr Hodkinson” followed by four random quotes: "Unfounded public hysteria," "Greatest hoax ever," "Politics playing medicine" and "Nothing more than a bad flu season.” The least Morrison can do is not spread misinformation to his 67K Twitter followers.

McCartney recently told CBS Sunday Morning: “When people sort of say, ‘Wearing masks is infringing on my civil liberties,’ I say, ‘No. That is stupid … I don’t want to give it to anyone, and I don’t want to get it.’” He also used his free time during the lockdown to write, record and release McCartney III, the final in a trilogy he began decades ago.

Parton donated $1 million to COVID research, ultimately helping fund the Moderna vaccine. In April, she told Today: “I felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand and try to help.” We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Bless you, Dolly.

It really is that simple. Just use your platform and celebrity for good — as in, not to spread lies and encourage dangerous behavior like Morrison and Clapton have in their new song. Which, to their only credit, does financially benefit Morrison’s live music charity, Save Live Music. 

“We should applaud the bravery of those in the medical profession challenging the official narrative.” –Van Morrison via Twitter

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Let’s take the lyrics of “Stand and Deliver,” written by Morrison and performed by Clapton, one by one:

Do you want to be a free man or do you want to be a slave? Do you want to wear these chains until you’re lying in the grave?

Here we have it: two rich white men likening quarantining during a pandemic to slavery. It’s likely that the closest these guys have felt to being constrained in any way is through a bad record deal.

Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, Constitution, what’s it worth?

Pretty sure all three of those references support the idea that knowingly harming or killing innocent people is bad.

I don't wanna be a pauper, and I don't wanna be a prince.

Surely the Denying Duo's careers and finances weren’t entirely dependent on playing live music in 2020. And if they’re trying to relate to fans who mostly have ordinary, working-class incomes, why imply they shouldn’t accept financial aid from their government during a pandemic lockdown — one which they’re arguing in this very song is damaging people’s livelihoods?

I just wanna do my job playing the blues for friends.

Both Clapton and Morrison are capable of doing their jobs from the comfort of their mansions with their millions of dollars, so they should spare us the cry for sympathy. Clapton has ridden the coattails of blues music throughout his successful career and should understand his privilege in doing so, since it originated with the field hollers of slaves and, in its early popularization in the early 20th century, testified to the poor treatment of Black people. But we won’t mention Clapton’s history of public, racist attacks on foreigners or that he thinks Britain should be a white country. Oh, oops.

They’re gonna grind us down until it really hurts

Know what really hurts? Being intubated. (Also, please refer again to the first rule of writing.)

Is this a sovereign nation or just a police state? You better look out, people before it gets too late

The fact that this song exists and these two are enjoying a new wave of popularity is proof that they do not live in a police state.

Do you want to be your own driver or keep flogging a dead horse?

There is an outcome to pandemic lockdowns: fewer people will die.

Do you want to make it better or do you want to make it worse?

One way to make things worse was by releasing this terrible song. (Again with the vague pronouns.)

Stand and deliver, you let them put the fear on you, sold down the river but not a word of it was true.

Fear? The emotional energy we’ve evolved over tens of thousands of years that can stop us from hurting ourselves and others? Yeah, screw that! I’ll take my chest pain and trouble breathing with a big wave of body aches, fever and a hefty hospital bill, please. If I don’t die, that is. I’m no sheep!

If there’s nothing you can say there may be nothing you can do. Dick Turpin wore a mask too

Most robbers, like this 18th-century reference to Turpin, wear masks, especially those who kill. Hunters wear masks. Actors wear them, too. Dental hygienists wear them. Kids on Halloween wear them. Hell, even swingers wear them during steamy orgies. Know who else wears them? Health professionals and, in the year of COVID, patriots wear them. (Also, just go ahead and reference my second rule of writing and apply it to this entire disaster of a song.)
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Diamond Rodrigue
Contact: Diamond Rodrigue