The powerful 2011 release by Mark Willis, Looking for America, is a country song capturing mutual feelings shared by majority of American citizens during these trying times of economic hardships and social distress. The singer takes a hard and sincere look at the way America has changed for the worst economically in recent years. In the song, he yearns to see the citizens regain simple moral values, community pride and wholesome lifestyle.
The video is worth watching as it captures the challenges that American citizens are going through. These social problems are addressed indirectly. The first problem is employment. Willis refers to the problem of unemployment where he sings about his yearning to see a factory employ a man so that he can feed his family. The next problem the singer addresses is increased insecurity and cases of terrorism. This comes out where he mentions children can no longer play underneath an old streetlight knowing they are safe like it used to be in the past. In addition, Willis sings about the problem of dysfunctional social lives of the citizens. These include broken families and further deviation of citizens from religion, particularly Christianity, which used to bring social cohesion during the old times. This imagery is best captured where he enters an empty church and a past visual of the same church filled with congregation is seen worshiping happily in peace and unity inside the same church.
Willis argues that American have lost their sense of patriotism. He mentions that America was once the land of the free and home to the bravest. He dreads that one day he might wake up and find what makes America the greatest nation on earth lost. Willis seeks to promote the ideology of patriotism, that all citizens need to take pride in the founding fathers dream of a democratic nation. This ideology clearly comes out where he sings he yearns to see folks waive the blue and red white flag. The singer refers to the takeover of crucial industries by multi-national corporations as the source of unemployment. This comes out clearly where he mentions he is worried about those in control moving the factory to the South. This line perhaps gives the clearest evidence on Mark Willis ideology. It reveals that he opposes the activities of multinational corporations that acquire domestic industries and transfer their operations to third world countries causing unemployment among American citizens. These corporations are only interested in making profits at the expense of the American citizens. They outsource cheaper labour from the Caribbean countries, causing unemployment back in the US.
On the other hand, some of the themes used by the singer in the song are a myth to say the least. For instance, he sings that he is searching for the land of the free and home of the bravest but he cannot seem to find it. In the contrary, it is evident that America has come a long way from the days of slavery, religious prejudice and racism. The nation is the world’s greatest democracy to this day. The citizens are free to practice their religion of choice. In addition, all citizens are encouraged to work hard to achieve the American dream, and systems are in place to support this. The present day America is a better place compared to the times of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, when the Hispanics and Black communities had little opportunities compared to the whites.