"One U-Haul trailer, a truck with no wheels/The Tenth Avenue bus going west/The dogs and pigeons fly up and they flutter around/A man with a badge skips by/Three fellas crawlin’ on their way back to work/Nobody stops to ask why...."
A Bob Dylan lyric that crosses my mind as I'm rereading point #5 of my "10 things I might have live-blogged, if I'd blogged the State of the Union Address last night." Something about "A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired" — on Obama's list of characters "today in America" — made me think of Bob Dylan's list of characters — and vehicles, including a bus — in "Three Angels." Dylan's song is about this "concrete world full of souls" who never notice the angels. Obama's text is much longer, so it's harder to say what it's "about." It has nothing about angels or other supernatural entities, other than the conventional "God," whom we're not asked to notice. He's asked to notice us: "God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)"
Obama does refer to "spirit," but it's the workaday can-do "spirit that has always moved this nation forward" and "the spirit of citizenship." The highest aspirations are repeatedly termed "dreams," as in that above-quoted line about the bone-tired man on the bus, which continues with the mind-reading "he's dreaming big dreams for his son." Just before the invocation of God, there's the 2-word imperative "Believe it," but the "it" is nothing religious. "It" is the "dream" of an American where "dreams" really do come true, if we keep "our eyes cast towards tomorrow." In Obama's America, we cast our eyes, aspirationally, and see, not angels, but a decent-enough job, if we work hard and take personal responsibility.
In this concrete world full of souls...