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Country Song Expresses America's Frustration With Gas Prices


Americans who are upset about the rising price of gasoline are expressing their frustration in a number of ways. A lot of them are driving less, some are selling their cars and others are calling for a political solution. Brent Burns wrote a song. "Pain at the Pump" is typical of the country music artist's creative approach of looking at serious issues from a humorous perspective. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.

"I'm a songwriter and usually do funny songs," says Brent Burns who, for more than 30 years has found his inspiration in the nation's serious issues.

"You know, if we had no humor in our lives, it would be a pretty boring life," he says. "Even in times of great turmoil, it's good to have some comedic relief. That's what I try to do when I write songs. I picked on the French people one time with a song called 'FTF – Forget the French.' I pick on rich, white people, people who have too much money."

"Pain at the Pump" grew out of America's anger at the rising price of gas.

"It's kind of tongue in cheek, as we say in America," he says."It's serious, the prices of gasoline to the entire world, but sometimes it's better to laugh than cry."

"Pain at the Pump" – one of the cuts on Burn's latest CD, Ragtops and Flip Flops – is his second song about high gas prices. He wrote "Cheaper Crude or No More Food" in 1979.

"It got on the top 40 in America," he says."Last time when that song was out, I was interviewed by the Voice of America, also. So, it did really well. It was quite an international stir."

But today's gas crisis, he says, is different from the one three decades ago.

"It was a different time during the first song," he says."People kind of blamed OPEC nations for the high prices of gasoline because they were the major producers. We had an embargo in 1973, then a shortage in 1979 and 1980. More recently, really I don't think anybody knows if there is only someone to point at and blame completely for the problem. Is it OPEC? Is it our politicians not taking care of us, looking for our best interests?"

The American people, Burns says, should also take some blame for the current situation.

"This kind of wakes us up to the fact that we need to use less energy," he says."We need to use more natural resources of our own, to be less dependent on international oil, explore technologically other ways of producing energy – nuclear or biofuel or hybrid engines. So, I think this crisis may have a good ending."

These days, Burns is busy promoting his new album and working on a new collection of humorous country music. He says that doesn't give him a chance to do what he likes most, international travel.

"I'm so busy playing in the States that I haven't found as much time to go traveling overseas," he says."But, I love to travel overseas because if you haven't ever been out of the United States, you don't understand that there is another world over there, other beliefs, other thoughts and other ways to look at things."

Burns says the feedback he has received on "Pain at the Pump" so far is exceeding his expectations. He says it reaffirms what he has long believed – that people need a humorous perspective on the most serious problems in life.

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