10. God Bless Robert E. Lee, Johnny Cash. Not QUITE as neo-Confederate as you might think -- the gist seems to be that Lee is heroic for surrendering and saving lives. But still, fairly dubious...
9. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright, Simon & Garfunkel. Art Garfunkel warbles pompously and unmelodically about architecture. It's a shame Art was such a douche, because he really did make Simon better.
8. I'm Henry the VII, I Am, Herman's Hermits. You know a list is in trouble when this tune cracks the top 8. It's not even technically about the king. But the Hermits win points for irresistible infectiousness: "Second verse, same as the first!"
7. Galileo, Indigo Girls. Not very focused -- begins with Galileo, then all of a sudden I think she's talking about Amelia Earhart, then "nuclear annihilation." At least there aren't any gratuitious attacks on PhDs in this one, though.
6. MLK, U2. Apparently Richard Kelly originally wanted this song for the closing sequence in Donnie Darko, and only replaced it with Gary Jules's cover of "Mad World" when he couldn't get the rights. "Mad World" is a far, far superior song.
5. For the Love of Richard Nixon, Manic Street Preachers. Sorta mediocre, but there are some classic clips of Nixon speeches thrown in.
4. James K. Polk, They Might Be Giants. Martin Van Buren wasn't "an abolitionist", and this isn't what you'd call a "good" song, but shit: half of it is about the 1844 Democratic convention! How awesome is that?
3. Cortez The Killer, Neil Young. An interesting case: this is without doubt my favorite song on here, with its slow churning guitar and appropriately mystical atmosphere. The opening lyrics are great: "He came dancing across the water, with his galleons and guns." But Neil loses points for essentializing the Aztecs ("hate was just a legend, and war was never known"), lavishing praise on Montezuma, and seeming to celebrate human sacrifice. As he later said to his biographer, "What the fuck am I doing writing about Aztecs in 'Cortez the Killer' like I was there, wandering around? 'Cause I only read about it in a few books. A lotta shit I just made up because it came to me."
2. I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine, Bob Dylan. Who needs specificity when you can have poetry? I haven't read enough (OK, any) of Augustine to know if there are real connections being drawn here, but I do dig this song.
1. Mr. Churchill Says, The Kinks. Political commentary! Famous speeches committed to music! Mention of Beaverbrook, Montgomery, Mountbatten, and Vera Lynn! What more could you ask for? Churchill is in the title, but not in the best line:
"Mr. Beaverbrook says /
We gotta save our tin /
And all the garden gates and empty cans are gonna make us win..."