This is a song Glenn Beck stole from Sam Adams. Titus Andronicus is stealing it back. It’s a seven minute indie-rock epic, named for a clause from the Preamble to the Constitution. It opens with an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum Address. It ends with a quote from prominent 19th Century abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Along the way, it (literally) shouts out punk rock transliterations of Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg (a folk singer who, unlike most recently polled Americans, can speak with some authority on what is and what is not socialism), and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, all while sounding like Bright Eyes singer Conor Oberst trying his damnedest to front a volume-uncompromised Thin Lizzy, circa ’76 (Seventeen-76, that is.). I had no idea what I was watching when I, half-sleeping, caught my first glimpse – the last thirty seconds or so – of the video for this song on TV a couple months ago, but it kept me awake that night, the same way watching Spielberg’s remake of War of the Worlds did.

“A More Perfect Union” is the lead single from the New Jersey quintet’s sophomore album The Monitor, and it comes on with the sort of triumphal mob rage that Lincoln’s Lyceum Address presciently decried and warned against – the 28-year-old Lincoln believing more than anything that the Union’s demise would come not at the hands of some foreign conqueror (or al-Qaida), but by the pitchforks and nooses of its own rioting hordes (Fox News?) – the same triumphal mob rage that seems to fuel the current Tea Party movement, blindly and nonspecifically angry, fairly puking on its own broad hubris, wrapping itself up in the spirit of the American Revolution, creating itself in the time-and-history-and-politics-distorted image of the Founders. It’s a punk rock opera built out of slogans – “Rally around the flag!” – and proud nationalistic proclamations – “Will I not yell like hell for the glory of the Newark Bears!”. In couplets that Woody Guthrie could sue over, they sing (?) the praises of “brutal Somerville summers” and “cruel New England winters”; of interstate highways, the Garden State Parkway, and the lights over Fenway. You could imagine Sarah Palin as a compulsively literate New Jersey loyalist (I think I just discovered the formula for Sarah Palin anti-matter!); or maybe Springsteen as a fervent, third generation punk rocker on the campaign trail for Van Buren ‘48. Either way, this song is wicked awesome.

Sadly, the video edits the song down to a more manageable length, but it’s well worth hearing in all its unruly 7 minute glory. Listen here: