The difference between Tracy Chapman’s 1988 original and the Jonas Blue remix spans the entirety of ideology.

The cyclical perpetuation from the singer’s ‘old man’ to her partner is a product of the father’s lack of labor power to sell as an aged person. He cannot exploit himself on the market and there are not adequate social resources in place for those in such a position (the frail, elderly, mentally unfit, etc.) Thus the singer is compelled to quit school in order to sell her own labor for a minimum, non-living wage. She is coerced out of a future.

In the remix, stanzas 6 through 8 are excised, but such stanzas index precisely the forms of societal subjugation: ‘I work in the market as a checkout girl. You’ll find work . . . We’ll move out of the shelter . . . You stay out late drinking at the bar’. The fact that the American dream, ‘buy[ing] a bigger house and liv[ing] in the suburbs’ was never anything more than a delusion: ‘I’d always hoped for better’. In their absence, the one stanza of critique which remains, ‘Somebody’s got to take care of him so I quit school’, becomes senseless in its out-of-placeness.

The song instead becomes an ode to escapism rather than precisely a critique of a society that bars any escape for its subjects. For capitalist ideology needs you to believe you are freely selling yourself, and here pop music falls in step with the official ideology. The only truth that remains would be dialectical: the subject must desire a liberated escape precisely because it knows itself to be unfree.

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