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The United States of Selfishness by Rusty Reid

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"We believe that artists have a valuable function in any society,
since it is the artists who reveal the society to itself.
-- Harry Belafonte at the 1963 "March on Washington."

The United States of Selfishness
Single: Original Release: November 11, 2020
Single: Remix/Remaster Release: August 1, 2023
Single: Lyric Video Release: November 27, 2023
Northern Latitudes Records
Copyright © 2020 Rio Paso Music (BMI)


Following the release of his third album, "Bayou Line: Songs from Houston," Rusty returns to his philosophical-political musical forays with the single, "The United States of Selfishness." While this song directly references the history and current political upheavel of the United States, it might well apply also to any number of other nations which have experienced their own travails with large portions of the populace drawn to authoritarian, intolerant, often openly racist, and belligerent quasi-fascism. Rusty points to conservatism as the Ideology of Selfishness, and notes that it is certainly nothing new. We are all selfish to a degree, but the mark of the advanced and virtuous individual and society is the concerted effort to identify, curb and control that selfishness for the benefit of the larger collective, which now includes the interconnected family of nations. It's not just the United States that has a "rot inside the belly" and may be on its "final stand," but also the viability of the planet. All around the world we can see the despicable and violent handiwork of the conservative recklessly ruining lives. And all of this at the very worst time, when ecological devastation is ramping up.. and more than ever before human cooperation is paramount.

Soaring and searing, a true work of political art, "The United States of Selfishness" is a statement, a plea, a warning, a hope that it's not too late to rescue ourselves from our own worst enemy: ourselves.


LOST IN THE MANOR with Aditya - December, 2023

Lost in the Manor Interview

Interview: The United States of Selfishness (Remix) - Rusty Reid

Rusty Reid delivers a profoundly poetic musical declaration in "The United States of Selfishness (Remix)". The song combines the emotive quality of music with impactful songwriting rooted in reality, to create a socially charged and sonically rich ballad. In this song, Rusty Reid explores the socio-political state of the U.S.A., laying bare the economic, civil, spiritual, and philosophical crises that plague the nation with unadulterated honesty and lyrical prowess.

With various musical influences such as country, folk, and rock sounds glistening throughout the song, Rusty Reid brings back the timeless sonic and thematic aesthetics of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Roy Orbison, and the like.

Find out more about the song "The United States of Selfishness (Remix)" and Reid's musical evolution in this interview with Rusty Reid.

Your musical style oozes influences from a variety of genres- country, folk, rock, pop, and more, showcasing an abundant, non-confirming sonic creativity. What are some of the major musical influences at play in your track "The United States of Selfishness (Remix)"?

Thanks for the opportunity for this conversation. Yes, I grew up listening to a wide range of music, and it is this amalgamation that swirls through my own melodies, lyrics and instrumentation. I can but barely separate them out in my own mind, but certainly the Beatles, Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Buddy Holly, and the Everly Brothers are among those artists that are a big part of my musical DNA. Alas, this blend, with no particular "genre" or "sound" consistent, can make it difficult for people to categorize and find.

Lines in the song like "Don't hide behind tradition, We're long past due for something new, Too much of the good world beaten down, Too much believed that is not true." possess a poetic yet direct quality that is grounded in reality and relevance. Tell us about the creative process behind penning such lyrics.

Thank you. That's a huge compliment. I've always been drawn to lyrics that are poetic, unusual, and actually mean something. If that something is more of a universal theme, rather than some kind of mundane or self-centered throughout, all the better. Many of the 1960s acts featured this kind of approach: John Lennon, Paul Simon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all spring to mind there. I began writing more philosophical/political songs a few decades ago as I studied and learned more about these issues and witnessed some very ominous developments in culture at large, principally the conservative backlash against the social justice movements and the ever-deteriorating environment. In the mold of those old "protest songs" that go way back, certainly to the 1920s and beyond, I wanted to step into that arena of singer-songwriters. I do really, really care about this world. It's a bit strange to me that more artists are not going in this direction, given how dire our situation is becoming. Modern music is totally dominated by self-centered sex/love/ego/aren't I great/woe is me songs. That's not really new... but it is seemingly blind, deaf, and dumb to what is really going on in the world.

The song's arrangement of instruments, vocals, percussion and more has a faultless coherence and homespun quality. Walk us through the process of your musical production.

Ha-ha. I like that word "homespun." It definitely is. It's just four of us playing. I'm on the electric rhythm guitar you can hear in the left channel. The great Nashville guitarist Jason Roller is handling acoustic guitars and the soaring slide electric guitar, mostly in the right channel. Multi-instrumentalist Jed Demlow is playing bass and the ethereal keyboard background. We are each recording in our own home studios, and then I put the parts together in the mix. I usually have harmony vocals on my tracks and had planned to do likewise with this one. But the stand-alone vocal seemed to do everything I thought needed. To add harmony would be to take away from the emotion. So it's pretty bare bones... but still achieves sort of an anthemic quality. The lyrical content is intense, so the instrumentation and arrangement had to match.

With a musical career spanning over decades, how would you describe the evolution in your songwriting?

Ironically, I started off writing philosophical/political songs. But they were abstract. I had no real idea what I was talking about. I hardly knew anything about the world. Not the best grounding for thinking you can write a universal song. For about three or four years I wrote one crappy song after another. I didn't like any of them. I don't know why in the world I kept going. I have no recollection of what evidence suggested to me that it was just a matter of time before I wrote my first good song. You know what they say about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I probably was a bit insane to keep beating my head against the wall. But eventually, a few came... "Corner of My Mind," "Home One More Time," "Look Out Louisiana," "Rio Frio," (those are all on my latest album, "Bayou Line: Songs from Houston"). I wrote a lot of love songs during this era, but most of my decent early songs were about imagined people, feeling imagined things in unusual places. I went through a phase of being in rock bands where the beat and the drive and soundscape were the important components, so the themes and lyrics need not be very interesting or good. When I moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s, I commenced in earnest a wide-ranging exploration of the world of ideas, history, philosophy, and spiritual traditions. My song themes began to move toward the self- and society-reflective. How was I believing and behaving in ways that were counter to higher ways of being, and how was culture at large doing the same? Songs like "Earthquake City," "Too Many Poor," "We Are the Barbarians," and "Who Do You Think You Are?" sprang from that period. That direction continued and expanded as I moved to the Pacific Northwest and developed my own philosophical-spiritual system. My album "Head to Heart" is essentially my "manifesto in song."

Some of your songs are known for their conceptual exploration of politics, philosophy, worldviews, liberalism, and more. What are your inspirations for composing music with socially impactful messages?

As we get older, supposedly we get wiser. That's definitely not always the case. There are people who get more and more stuck in their ways, more and more disdainful of the world, more and more selfish, and actually dumber as they age. But I think I've gained some wisdom... partly because I was so clueless as a young person. Now it is my opportunity, and I think responsibility, to share those nuggets of perception, and my best method of sharing is through music. If you choose to avail yourself of the "wisdom of the world," you note a lot of overlap in much of it. The highest "wisdom" is virtue-centered... i.e. ever seeking the good, the true, the beautiful, the honorable, the compassionate. "Love" becomes the nexus of all of these different types of virtue. So it can rightly be considered the highest value and virtue. In the Eastern philosophies - not so much the fragmented West - there is the concept of Oneness. This idea prompts us to consider ourselves related to everyone else, and not just that, but everything else. And what do you know? Science proves this very thing. We are directly related to all other life forms and to every other thing in the universe. To me, spirituality is the way of connection to this great truth... and the highest way of being. The currency of spirituality is love. So the equation is simple: the more things in the world that you love, the deeper your spirituality. The Beatles said as much with "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." It's true. So I was excited to bring this concept into certain songs, and in others point out the ways that we, and society, work to thwart this kind of universal peace, harmony, and love. I was late, but eventually, I found my calling.

What are some of the obstacles that you have overcome in your musical journey?

I think the biggest obstacle many of us will ever encounter in our life quest is ourselves. It's true for me. The music biz is for young people. So you'd better get your act together pretty quickly if you want to "make it." When I was younger, I was unfocused, easily distracted, undisciplined, forever procrastinating, rarely studying or practicing, believing myself better than I actually was. That all added up to me not making the contacts I needed, not being "at the right place at the right time" (which essentially means being at the right place ALL the time), and not getting around to actually crafting the art (or "product" as they call it in the biz) to succeed. I don't know that I've actually "overcome" any of these challenges, I've just outlived them. They don't matter anymore. Having seen how so many of my music idols were chewed up and spit out by the biz, in the long run, I may have dodged a bullet.

What plans do you have for the future course of your music?

At this stage, I just want to get my catalog of songs "out there," on the inter-webs. Hopefully, some folks will find it, and find it interesting and relevant. I'm currently working on a remix of my "Head to Heart" album, and have about three more albums mostly recorded, just ready for mixing and release. All told I have a catalog of about one hundred songs to share. Maybe a batch of brand-new songs will come along down the line which might prompt more releases. But at some point, I need to carve out time for a couple of books to write. These will more concisely introduce and explain my overall philosophical-spiritual system... a way of being in the world that would work for everyone... and everything.

THE INDIE GRID with Matt Warren - December, 2023

The Indie Grid Interview


Hailing from West Texas and shaped by experiences in Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, Rusty Reid brings a unique perspective to his melodic, guitar-driven tunes. His latest single, 'The United States of Selfishness,' is anchored in robust musicianship, unfolding gracefully to let the evocative lyrics shine. This seven-minute composition, with shades of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, captivates with musical nuances, including a beautiful melodic guitar solo and a perfectly timed key change. It concludes with a contemplative outro, giving listeners time to reflect on the content. Is this release a protest song or an unadorned truth-telling expedition? Join us as Rusty shares insights into his songwriting process, the emotions he hopes to evoke, and the broader themes he explores in his music.

1. Whilst the title seems somewhat self-explanatory was there something specific that inspired you to write 'The United States of Selfishness?'

Hey Matt, it's great to chat with you. Thanks for that question. Looking back through the history of humanity, I noticed that our human penchant for individual, as well as cultural, selfishness has seemed to dominate, punctuated here and there by novel ideas that trend more toward selflessness. These were few and far between for millennia, but gradually picked up supporters and steam, and eventually helped to create the modern, democractic, interconnected, more or less cooperative world of nations that we inherited. Alas, not everyone was pleased with these developments. There were those staunchly opposed to, you know, playing well with others. We have a term for them: conservatives. Look around the world, or throughout history, you don't really want to live in a place where conservatism gets its way. In America, as with many other liberal democracies, we are now facing this conservative backlash against the social justice movements, the environmental movement, and any other infringements on their "liberty," which they take to mean their liberty to squelch your liberty. I felt I should write a song about this situation in this country, and came up with this term, "The United States of Selfishness." The song could apply to many other nations as well. But I do think our American conservatives are the worst among the liberal democracies. They don't - yet - match up with, say, those in Iran or North Korea or Russia, but they are trending in that direction. You don't see this kind of CEO enrichment, cowboy machismo, gun-loving, climate change denying, election rigging, Capitol building rioting in the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan or such. This is really nothing new in our history... as the song discusses we've had the Tories, the Confederates and whole menagerie of other conservatives mucking things up, running roughshod over others, and opposing every shred of social and moral progress, all while thinking they are the "real" Americans (and good "Christians" - boy is that a laugh). So this song is calling them out, and sending up a warning flag of what is ahead if we don't disarm and diminish this entire ideology. Really, not just goodwill among peoples but the livability of the planet are at stake. BTW, I write a column at Medium.com if anyone is interested in further checking out my ideas on the awfulness of conservatives.

2. Did the song undergo any changes or transformations during the writing or recording process? If so, how did it evolve?

I had been listening to the late Texas singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave, and he steered me right into this song. He's got a song called, "This Land," where he says, "I simply want my country back again." Now, conservatives say that, too. But what they mean is they want their advantage, privilege and power back. What Jimmy is sayiing, is he wants back the nation that was striving to live up to its own ideals. We have never really gotten there, but at least we were on the right track. American conservatives now threaten to derail that, possibly for good. So my song goes into a bit more detail of what has gone wrong for so long that continues to thwart us ever reaching our true social and moral potential. The song flowed out pretty effortlessly. It was more or less train of thought. I think a lot of the best songs come like that. I recall reading that Paul Simon said "Bridge Over Troubled Water" came tumbling into being in a flash. Then the other players on the song, Jason Roller on guitar, Jed Demlow on keys and bass, and Darin Watkins on drums just knocked it out of the park, in my opinion.

3. What emotions or reactions do you hope to evoke in listeners through 'The United States of Selfishness?'

The title song of one of my previous albums is, "Head to Heart." The songs on that album, as well as this one, I hope will register in the head and heart of the listener. "The United States of Selfishness" might make you mad and sad. If you agree with its statements, maybe do what you can do to push back on what conservatives are threatening in this day and age. There are way more of us who are willing to sacrifice a bit of our privilege and "liberty" to make a better world for everyone. But we have to stand up for the good and the true.

4. How important do you think it is for artists to use their platform to address societal issues?

I personally think it's very important. Banksy is one of my heroes. The best art makes you think, and makes you feel. But there's a spectrum of "gravitas," running from pretty shallow to deeply philosophic or even spiritual. I think artists who through their art push their audience toward a higher way of thinking or being are definitely a cut above those who are simply entertainers. If all you have to offer while the world is burning up is, "Hey, look how cool I am," or "Oh, baby, you so sexy," you're kinda pathetic, if you ask me. Where would our culture be if most artists - of all types - stood firm with the higher good and the true?

5. Does the release of "The United States of Selfishness" signal a particular direction or theme for your upcoming musical projects?

This song is a continuation of my delving into more philosophical, political and/or spiritual (not religious) themes that actually started decades ago. I'm currently re-mixing my "Head to Heart" album, and will get that out next year. There's also a "twin" single to "The United States of Selfishness" that will also be releasedin 2024. It's titled "American Villain." Guess who that's about! But I do have some projects that will be in a more normal vein. I'm just about finished with an album of all cover tunes, all sharing the same unique orientation. And I'm going to release an album of recordings by my old Houston rock band, the Unreasonables. After all that, I'll be back with more original material. Stay tuned.

6. If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Oh gosh... that's a tough question. The Beatles are far and away my principle influence, but surely they are better off without my contribution. I do still love many of those 1960s groups. If I could transport back in time what I know now, and be in the Byrds, that would be super cool. That band may be the one that could have best put my country-rock abilities to good use. Maybe I would have had a hit or two by now. Getting to collaborate with any of my favorite artists being probably unlikely, I'll try to bring a little of them into my songs.

Thanks so much Rusty and TIG wishes you all the best with 'The United States of Selfishness' and all future releases.

INDIEFFERENTIAL MAGAZINE with George Skendros - December, 2023

The Indiefferntial Interview

Published Dec 30, 2023 (Print publication)

Where can we find you right now and what are you up to?

Gretings. My website, RustyReid.com, has more than anyone would want to know about me. Go there first. I'm also on all the socials, streams and YouTube.

"The United States of Selfishness," seems to tackle significant political and social issues. Can you share more about the inspiration behind this powerful and thought-provoking song?

Sure thing. More and more I'm concerned about the state of the world, meaning all people, all other life foms and the planet itself. It just seems to me that things are going in a, frankly, horrible direction for all of these, while to the actual benefit of a tiny sliver of humanity. I know music and other forms of entertainment are supposed to allow us to escape from thinking such negative thoughts, but the arts have also always served up some potent social criticism. For the past few decades I've been trending in my songwriting toward more serious lyrical statements. This song is the latest in that progression.

"The United States of Selfishness" addresses issues not only within the United States but also globally. How do you see the interconnectedness of nations and the broader impact of political ideologies on a global scale?

We are all well aware of the pockets of violence still flaring, but the relative peace that the modern world has achieved is, historically, a rare and beautiful thing. It hasn't been perfect, but it succeeded in allowing for the expansion of human rights and a better quality of life for billions of people. For sure, not everyone shared in this new paradigm, but the Americas, Asia, Europe were bloodbaths for centuries. We had two "world wars" two decades apart, but we haven't had one since. Instead we had ancient (and recent) enemies joining together in some semblance of cultural respect, balance and exchange. Concurrently, the rights movements and the environmental movement racheted up human consciousness to belatedly begin to have concern for the "other," the still oppressed and the very biosphere upon which we depend. These were all liberal achievements. Even conservatives agree about that when they describe the real despots remaining in the world as "illiberal." But now there is a backlash against much of this by those buying into a completely selfish orientation and ideology. This is happening in the United States and in many other nations around the world. Selfishness, of course, is endemic to humanity, but the civilized and virtuous understand it has to be curbed and controlled, both on the individual and societal level for the "general welfare" (as mentioned in the U.S. Constitution). Otherwise, chaos and violence is near at hand. We saw that in the U.S. with the rioting at the Capitol, egged on by perhaps the most selfish individual to ever enter American politics. We are seeing much this same dynamic gaining momentum across the globe. Imagine a group of people all pursuing their own selfish ends. It doesn't end well. Then imagine nation-states doing the same. That's a castastrophe. Ominously, this acting up of conservatives is happening rght at the very time when we need all hands on deck to do something, anything, about Global Warming before it makes us forget all our other disagreements... by frying us.

The song is described as "soaring and searing" and viewed as a work of political art. How do you approach the creative process when translating complex political ideas into a musical composition?

Well, biting social commentary can come in any kind of artistic wrapper. Look what Banksy is doing with essentially cartoon graffitti. Think of Joanie Mitchell's bouncy, whimsical "Big Yellow Taxi," which actually features a scathing critique of heedless development and environmental damage. In my mind these are examples of potent political art. But, yes, I wanted this song to be searing and soaring because the issue is so dire. It needed to have the right kind of arrangement and instrumentation to make it sort of anthemic, plus a vocal delivery that brought authenticity. I had a sound in mind when I was writing it, and the players on the record pretty much nailed that vision.

Can you share any specific incidents or events that inspired the creation of "The United States of Selfishness" and shaped the direction of the song?

I have been wary of conservatives and their greed and deceit for decades. The history of conservatives is quite sordid, but I allowed myself to think they would not become, almost overnight, a crazed mob. My bad. Finally understanding that conservatism is the Ideology of Selfishness certainly put me on this thematic track. But the idiotic "Stop the Steal" debacle where tens of millions of Americans were so easily convinced by merely the word of their cult leader and his henchmen, without a shred of real evidence, and even with officials in their own party telling them it wasn't true, really shook me... and probably millions of other Americans... to the core. It was bad enough that conservatives would elect this clownish buffoon to take over the White House in the first place, but a total other level of debauchery that they would line up behind him as he sought to steal the election, overthrow democracy and remain in power. That effort culminated in the January 6, 2021 invasion of the Capitol by self-professed "patriots" in order to stop the election... and with full intent to murder. These people are not patriots; they are Tories.... who have never believed in democracy or any other true American ideals. Even as six people lost their lives because of that incident, the U.S. dodged a bullet... it was designed to be, and could well have been, so much worse. "The United States of Selfishness" and my next upcoming single, "American Villain" are responses to the entire Trump trajicomedy.

What kind of impact do you hope the song will have, not just within the music industry but on a broader societal level?

Alas, I can't imagine it will have much impact on either. My inside joke is that some archaelogist in 200 years will be digging through the radioactive waste of what was called the United States of America and will find my music or writing, and think to themselves, "Well this chap cared... and had a clue. Too bad so few others did." All I can do is lend my voice to the fight, and hope some others find merit in it. If more artists, of all kinds, would turn their minds and hearts to this dire situation, we might awaken and enlighten that critical mass that is needed to accomplish something magnificent. As it stands, too many people are too self-absorbed to notice - or care - and are sleep-walking through this ever-growing danger. That's the perfect recipe for angry conservatives to push their agenda unimpeded.

How have your background and personal experiences influenced your perspective on political and social issues, and how does this inform the themes of your music?

Really good questions you are asking here. Thank you for that. Yes, my background and personal experience are quite revelant. I actually used to be conservative. I grew up in a conservative family in a conservative town in a conservative state. College opened my eyes, and from there I commenced a journey of exploration to learn the real truth in history, philosophy and religion. I discovered later, that's essentially the spiritual quest. What I found was hard to take. Many of the "traditions" and "way of life" of my heritage turned out to not be as wholesome and patriotic as advertised. A lot that my culture believed and cherised was simply not true. That realization was a real bummer. Not that my family or all the other folks who are conservatives are inherently bad people; they've just been hoodwinked by a cunning ideology, which knows how to push their buttons and encougage the selfishness in them. So I know these people, and still love these people, but the Ideology of Selfishness is definitely not the way. My album, "Head to Heart," from a few years back is essentially a summary of my philosophy and worldview. going into all that is good in the world - which is most of it - and what issues still remain where conservatism threatens to spread misery. The stakes have never been higher... and the side of selfishness is gaining momentum. Those of us who prefer a peaceful, cooperative and sustainable world have to stand up and defend the real, the good, the true.

As an artist addressing such weighty topics, do you face any challenges or concerns about potential backlash or misinterpretation of your message?

I'm not too concerned with misinterpretation. I think my writing is pretty crystal clear. It's not hidden in abstraction or metaphor or symbols, so someone is going to have to indulge some pretzel logic to misconstrue. I do think about backlash. Conservatives are all about backlash these days. They are very angry. And they can be very violent. The elite and the media within conservatism make sure they stay agitated and selfish. Because conservatism never serves the majority, divide and conquer is their only way to victory. Conservatives consider their way of life threatened. And they are mostly right about that. Their way of life is essentially ignorant and selfish and mean and unsustainable, so that orientation is, indeed, ever under assault by liberal social and moral progress. What they don't understand is that liberal progress is superior even for them in contrast to conservative "regress." Liberals care about everyone, including conservatives. Rank and file conservatives will be among the first crushed if the conservative elite ever gets its way.

The CMPLX with Kortnee McCall-Simmons - January, 2024

The CMPLX Interview

'The United States of Selfishness': Rusty Reid's Stirring Musical Call for Societal Reflection and Unity
by Kortnee McCall-Simmons

Q: Your single 'The United States of Selfishness' tackles many societal issues. What inspired you to address such themes in your music, particularly within the genres of alt-country, folk rock, and Americana?

Hello Kortnee. Thanks for the discussion. Well, writing about love and sex and getting drunk gets boring after a while. Ha. I'm half-joking. I never wrote a song about getting drunk. Guess I should if I want to crack the Country Music charts. But really, as I have gotten older I think I've picked up some wisdom that I should share... and the best ways for me to do that are through songs and essays.

I care about this old world, and all that is in it. Yet I see the entire planet, and multitudes of living things, in dire peril right about now. I am prompted to spring to their aid. Artists, of all types, have long lent their talents to cultural criticism. I'm following a long tradition there. I feel like I'm a "genre orphan..." none of them want me. That's probably because I'm not very loyal to any of them... most of my material is a clumsy conglomeration of genres, which drives all of them nuts. But it works for me, so there's that. I call it the 1960s Top Forty genre... which sounds like ancient Greek to the kids these days.

Q: Your bio mentions modern liberal philosophical and political content in your songs. Personally, I loved it! How do you balance expressing your beliefs in your music without alienating listeners who may hold different perspectives?

Thanks so much. Most of my songs are not political or particularly philosophic, but a good smattering are, and more and more of my writing is trending in that direction. I'm long past worrying about alienating anyone. I'm bringing not just my truth, but the truth from centuries of minds much greater than mine. I did not plan it that way, but my album "Head to Heart," which I call my "Revolutionary Manifesto in Song," actually manages to offend pretty much everyone.

You may agree with all of it, and then - Wham! - one song hits you upside the head. I've heard repeatedly, "I like your album... except for...." The songs "Passion or Fashion" and "Dark Ages" are among the least liked off that album. For obvious reasons when you listen. If what I am saying in my songs bugs you, well at least I've got your attention.

Q: 'The United States of Selfishness' has elements of pop-country-rock. How do you feel this musical fusion contributes to delivering the message of the song?

I've always believed that a really good song can be arranged in a hundred different ways and still be a fun listen. But yes, pop and folk and country and rock have long been my favorite genres to listen to and absorb. They are my native grounding, so this song is a good example of that amalgamation. Not quite as much for pop, but folk and rock have a long history of social commentary, while country music is always direct and plain-spoken. This song is about America, so it seemed that a folk-country-infused sound that walked a fine line between edgy and sweet would work best, with little shards of pop and rock shimmering here and there.

Q: As a singer-songwriter who has been in various locations like Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, how have these different cities influenced your songwriting and musical style?

Ha. I'm not sure they have at all. I've just written what has come to me through my inner and external searchings and probably would have written the same stuff no matter where I was. In retrospect, I find it a bit strange that I never really incorporated the local vibe into my writing.

Houston is a stronghold of blues and blues-based rock and Western swing and real country, not to mention Tejano music, and I brought almost none of that into my songs. L.A. is glitz and glamour and jazz and hardcore rock. Nope. I did love and try to emulate the Laurel Canyon scene, which was long gone by the time I settled there. Up here in the Northwest, the ghost of grunge is still wafting and there are vibrant blues and jazz scenes, again not a part of my music.

The one time I tried to write like the locals was in Nashville. I couldn't do it. It just wasn't me. So that didn't last long. I guess I've just allowed my imagination to run where it wants, regardless of where I am at the time, and the only musical constraint is that it sounds like something someone like me would find interesting. That is to say, I write for an audience of one.

Q: How do you see your music evolving in terms of both sound and lyrical content in the future? Are there specific themes or genres you'd like to explore further?

I love the word "evolving." Isn't evolution just the coolest thing in the universe? It's how the universe works. The universe evolved. The Earth evolved. Life evolves. We evolve. Or not. If we don't, we are missing out on a lot of magic. Some don't even believe in evolution... for themselves or anything else. They are missing out on the most important and beautiful discovery in history, and will never know how magnificently different they might have become. I have evolved personally to the point where my family hardly knows me.

As to music, I do sometimes wonder what I would have come up with if I had achieved a real "career," you know, one that pays the bills so that your "day job" is music. I would have enjoyed following sort of the Paul Simon model in investigating and incorporating all types of music and themes. Since I was a kid I've heard orchestras in my head. I love all kinds of world music. There are songs in my catalog that hint at that potential, such as "Sat Cit Ananda." And more are coming soon. But the reality is that my "career" in music has been in the spaces between just trying to stay alive, and at this juncture is not winding up, it's winding down.

Lyrically, I'll keep addressing important subjects, and sonically keep trying to make each song a little bit different from all the rest. Got that notion from the Beatles... who nevertheless always sounded like the Beatles. I guess I'll keep on sounding like me, and allow evolution to take me where I need to go.

Q: What do you hope listeners take away from 'The United States of Selfishness' after hearing it? Are there specific emotions or actions you aim to evoke through your music?

Well, I would hope that they are aware that this kind of stuff is happening, and are in some way bolstered by this corroboration of their concern. Or perhaps the listener has not yet snapped to the impending danger, and this song helps them better orient to reality. Or, and this is a real long shot, some conservative listens to the song and honestly searches their heart and soul regarding the real virtue of their mindset. Or perhaps some might ask themselves how they might be under the spell of some kind of selfish belief or behavior. I think alarm, sadness, anger, and hope are all emotions that might properly arise.

The verses paint a dark, but accurate, picture of what is happening to our world, but the bridge searches for a positive, reminding us that we are "better than this," and if all of us right-minded citizens have each others' backs, we will "set the world free." That may be overly hopeful. After what we have witnessed in the U.S. over the past five years, even I - the eternal optimist (believe it or not) - am not nearly as sure about that as I once was. I am fast losing faith in the sanity of apparently around half of the American adult population. Please, kids, take over soon! On behalf of my generation, all I can say is, "I'm sorry." The hippies were right. But too many were too selfish.

Q: Your bio mentions a specific focus on spiritual content in your songs. How do you incorporate these spiritual elements into your music, and how do they intersect with the themes of modern society that you explore in your lyrics?

Spirituality is very important to me. And I think it is probably our only hope for long-term species survival. Technology is not going to unite us. Capitalism is not going to unite us. Politics are not going to unite us. Mathematics is not going to unite us. Heaven knows religion is not. I believe religion is not just not spiritual, it is anti-spiritual, it blocks the true spiritual quest and locks up its believers in a cul-de-sac of false "faith" from which they usually never escape.

Could spirituality unite the human family? It may not be likely, but I think it actually could. The key to spirituality is to know what it really should be, not what most people seem to think it is. The word has been abducted by religion and pseudo-science such as "spiritualism" and tortured far beyond its original meaning as "the breath of life." I've written a few essays about this on my Medium.com platform if anyone is interested in reading more. But the gist is that spirituality is the true pathway toward connection and bonding with something far greater than ourselves, the force that pervades the entire universe and goes directly back to the Source of the All. Some call the Source "God," but that term comes loaded with a lot of man-made baggage, and whatever the Source turns out to be (and science is on the trail), it certainly is not anything remotely like the daddy-tyrant created in man's image depicted in the popular religious texts written by Bronze Age seers who thought the world was flat and the Sun, Moon, and stars circled it.

Spirituality seeks the real, the good, and the true. Its currency is love. So the more you love in the universe, the deeper your spirituality. The ultimate love is for the entire universe and whatever force created it. So universal love is the lodestar. Of course, with such abundant love flowing, all life becomes precious and sacred, as do all things... sea, sky, mountains, rivers, canyons, plains, deserts, everywhere. Because it seeks the truth, real spirituality remains constantly in harmony with science. Science is the only other discipline honestly looking to know and understand the Creation, which is the only true evidence from the creative Source. Science is spiritual to its core. The "word" of the Source is written in nature, not in any man-made book. I do bring these concepts into some of my songs.

The first half of my "Head to Heart" album is all about this kind of spirituality, meaning, and purpose. Hope y'all will get a chance to listen. Maybe some of it will even make sense. In the meantime, practice love!


Lyrical Odyssey Review

Honk Magazine Review

Edgar Allan Poets Review

The Real Ding Review

Sinusoidal Music Review

Illustrate Magazine Review

Music Taste, UK Review

Indie Dock, UK Review

Mesmerized Review

We Write About Music Review

The Big Takeover Review

New Music Fire Review

Rock Era Music Review

Allen Peterson Review

Underground Sounds/EDM Rekords


Musike Pool, UK

Bad Wolf Records

Jyla's Blog

Obscure Sound


Principle Music

Bad Wolf Records



"In a musical landscape often filled with superficial tunes, Rusty Reid emerges as a compelling voice with his latest single, "The United States of Selfishness." Reid fearlessly delves into the political and social complexities of the American landscape, delivering a near seven-minute opus that is both an anthem and a critique. With this single, Reid solidifies his position as a singer-songwriter unafraid to use his craft as a vehicle for social and political commentary. We love it and everything it stands for!"
-- Austin Sher, We Write About Music

"In a world where people seem so entrenched in their social, political, cultural, and religious positions, it takes a brave and honest voice to challenge any one of those forces. But framing the problem as a rot growing at the heart of the United States and taking on all of those powers-that-be at once, is something else. Yes, the song comes from a more liberal position, but how could it not, considering its call for empathy, equality, understanding, and dialog? But it is safe to say that 'The United States of Selfishness' is a refreshing and timely song, and Rusty Reid, while he might for now at least feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, is precisely the sort of artist we have been waiting for. The sort of artists that we need. It's a fantastic song, and even though I'm writing this review from the other side of a vast ocean, the song frames issues that we can all relate to and describes a world we all recognize. The question is, just what are you going to do about it?"
-- The Big Takeover

"Awesome, appreciate the political subject matter and messages, agree completely."
-- American Pancake

"Very cool track here, I love the energy here. Vocals are solid."
-- Alchemical Records

"The lyrics, resonating with the fragility of our standing, evoke a reminiscent political ballad akin to the impactful works of Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen and even Pete Seeger. This alt-country, folk-rock masterpiece captivates us with its soft, genuine vocals and honest lyrics, showcasing a delicate production that masterfully allows space for emotion and contemplation."
-- RRH

"Salient and crisp vocals playing well. Radio-friendly pop rock."
-- Obscure Sound

"Insightful lyrics, enjoyable vocals. Strong guitar-driven bridge."
-- Indie Obsessive

"Rusty - You are challenging me on so many levels! I marvel at your incredible talent and walk away from your music with a haunting sermon in my head that compels me to search even harder for answers in these troubling times. Your unwavering message is stark and unnerving and yet, in the weirdest way, very comforting."
-- Nancy A. Lynch

"Totally dig the sentiment in the lyrics. I think this is a world wide thing. We have it in the UK on a smaller scale. Nice work on the lyrics. Guitars are cool. I reckon you should do well on college and mainstream US radio."
-- Leg Puppy

"Rusty, appreciate your courage and need to sing political tunes - this is a solid song."
-- Glide Magazine

"Hey, it's a lovely track. Loved the country rock vibe. I think the vocals are brilliant, the beginning of the track is really soothing. Reminiscent of country Rock, Folk Rock, Outlaw Rock, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Petty, Phosphorescent, Willie Nelson."
-- Buzz Beat News

"The lyrics are rich. The performance is outstanding."
-- Broadtube Music

Thank you so much for sending me this cool song. I've added it to my Spotify playlist. Chorus is great! Classic rock.
-- Eric Alper

"Very of-the-moment, obviously. And very on the nose. Well put. And nice to hear someone who isn't afraid to speak their mind instead of trying to please everyone. It all works OK for me. The track is very majestic, soaring, anthemic. Great guitar work, especially the solo. Seems to sit right at the midpoint of folk, country and rock. But ultimately, I would classify it as protest music. Mostly sounds like you."
-- Tinnitist

"Nice track. lovely vibe, acoustic guitars and really felt guitar solo! It's a well produced song with interesting parts. IŽll have to say I really like the southern vibe on the track."
-- MrLndr

"Nice vocals, like the melody. Those background electric guitars give the overall song a nice ambiance and touch. Vocals are really good and the overall production and mixing of the song is on point. This is in the vein of classic singer-songwriters Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Neil Young."
-- Rocktails.tv

"Heartfelt rock and roll with a country edge. Nice gentle acoustic guitar and piano. The steel guitar gives a very country vibe. The vocals are perfect for the vibe of this song. Here we go! Well done. Long overdue. All the feels."
-- Free Bike Valet

"Really liked the production and your voice fit it well! I enjoyed the message and it was so timely! I really feel that it all fit well man! I don't have anything bad to say! Great songwriting!!! You have a great sound, but if I had to pick someone I would say it reminds of Ryan Adams :)"
-- Lou Vier

"Wonderful vocals. The singing is honest, loved the soulful vocals! Also, great and heartfelt lyrics, telling the sad truth. Sincere and honest writing. Amazing guitar solo. Also loved the final part!"
-- Indie Music Center

"I like the way it builds with the uplifting of lead & acoustic guitar riffs, and once again the vocal has a beautifully tender edge that brings the powerful lyrics to life. The nostalgic guitar layers really stood out for me. It's a sound of a certain era that will definitely strike a chord with some listeners. It's got elements of different genres including classic rock/Americana/folk, hard to pin down to one genre. Sounds a bit like something you can imagine Springsteen singing."
-- PlayList Boutique

"Great country vocals, I liked its emotional depth. The atmosphere of a romantic ballad envelops and creates a slightly melancholic mood. I appreciate your work. The song will find its listeners."
-- Voxwave Magazine

"We appreciate the beat, and it's perfect for our platform."
-- Lyrical Odyssey

"The intense vocal delivery is commendable, captivating Folk/Acoustic enthusiasts with poignant lyrics and soulful melodies. It's a timely masterpiece that echoes a compelling narrative on societal reflections, a must-listen for introspective minds."
-- Honk Magazine

"We appreciate the beat, and it's perfect for our platform."
-- Lyrical Odyssey

"Hey Rusty Reid! This is another lovely song and your vocals are fantastic! It's well written and produced."
-- Lyrics & Vibes

"A successful indie folk title! I think the vocals fit the sounds of the guitar like a glove, a really good voice."
-- Berlin on the Air

"Rich and shimmering textures."
-- Mystic Sons

"Always a palpable heart to Rusty's work, and this is no exception."
-- Various Small Flames

"We're totally in love with the song you sent us. It's been on repeat in the office, and honestly, it's just awesome. The melody, your voice, everything about it is just spot on."
-- Hubb UK

"Really solid message here."
-- Existential Magazine

"The track sounds really good - the mix sounds really well done, and the vocal take is really good too. Keep up the good fight!"
-- ARB

"Your newest song is a musical journey that captivates from start to finish! The arrangement, rhythm, and overall vibe are simply phenomenal. It's evident you've poured creativity into this track, creating another masterpiece. Cheers to your continuous musical brilliance!"
-- HailTunes

"A beautiful and easy listening folk song. Like the clean and expressive vocals on the track."
-- Radio NEO

"Great job Rusty Reid! The sheer power and intensity in your vocals are mind-blowing. This song is a vocal powerhouse that resonates with every beat!"
-- Rock Al Palo

"This was great! I love the warm tones! We will post this one to the blog as soon as we can! Thanks again Rusty! keep them coming man!"
-- Buzz Slayers

"Your newest song is a musical journey that captivates from start to finish! The arrangement, rhythm, and overall vibe are simply phenomenal. It's evident you've poured creativity into this track, creating another masterpiece. Cheers to your continuous musical brilliance!"
-- HailTunes

"Some lovely work here with a solid and blissful soulful vocal with a lovely thought provoking set of lyrics."
-- Artists Central

"Rusty Reid's 'The United States of Selfishness' delivers a powerful message through poignant lyrics and stirring melodies. It's a thought-provoking anthem igniting social awareness."
-- New Fire Music

"Them are tough words but then maybe it is tough love that is required to shake us from our self obsessed slumber. And though the words are stark Rusty Reid still progresses through the United States of Selfishness with a calm and guiding hand. Perhaps it is his folk/country style that creates that effect and so we can absorb all the heavy hitting polemic in a tune that might have us swaying our arms overhead in time."
-- mp3hugger

"Hi Rusty, I appreciate you sending your track, You have a very defined style, and your song carries a strong character. I really enjoy the atmosphere, and there's a true instrumental mastery that is delightful to listen to."
-- Let My Music Play, France

"Oh this is country. The melancholy, the bleakness, the ode to Americana combined with the miserable, desperate mourning of what used to be held in high regard. It's powerful stuff! Your vocal delivery is perfect, as is the combination of subtlety and complexity in the instrumental - creates the emotion required whilst letting your lyrics shine. I will say, while seven minutes is long, it certainly doesn't feel long with your storytelling - every line makes an impact. I really want to emphasise that it's a brilliant song. Thanks so much for sharing it!"
-- ImsT

"The delivery has a sense of conviction and energy that is contagious. Rusty Ried's ability to convincingly send his message strengthens the delivery."
-- Music Taste, UK

"Rusty Reid delivers a profoundly poetic musical declaration in 'The United States of Selfishness (Remix)'. The song combines the emotive quality of music with impactful songwriting rooted in reality, to create a socially charged and sonically rich ballad. In this song, Rusty Reid explores the socio-political state of the U.S.A., laying bare the economic, civil, spiritual, and philosophical crises that plague the nation with unadulterated honesty and lyrical prowess."
-- Lost in the Manor

"Rusty Reid writes thoughtful and insightful songs that touch our hearts with their honesty and openness. 'The United States of Selfishness' is exactly the kind of song we've been waiting for a long time, which is also a kind of reflection on the latest political events in the USA and in the world in general."
-- Indie Dock, UK

"Rusty Reid brings a unique perspective to his melodic, guitar-driven tunes. His latest single, 'The United States of Selfishness,' is anchored in robust musicianship, unfolding gracefully to let the evocative lyrics shine. This seven-minute composition, with shades of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, captivates with musical nuances, including a beautiful melodic guitar solo and a perfectly timed key change. It concludes with a contemplative outro, giving listeners time to reflect on the content. Is this release a protest song or an unadorned truth-telling expedition?"
-- The Indie Grid, UK

"Balanced between folk, country and rock'n'roll, the Seattle-based talent writes tunes that serve a higher purpose, in the sense that they are made to completely wrap his wise and nuanced lyrical message - always an important feat in his records. That's exactly the case of 'The United States of Selfishness', Reid's latest effort. In it, the listeners will taste a slice of nostalgic and melancholic country rock, drenched in hopeful vibes and a cathartic arrangement. The record seeks to share an uplifting message that directly connects to the US' current political landscape. The aim is to push for change, with Rusty realising that his country is not on a healthy path, at the moment."
-- Mesmerized

"Rusty Reid's latest single, "The United States of Selfishness," stands as a poignant musical creation, blending powerful lyrics and stirring melodies to deliver a compelling message. This thought-provoking anthem ignites social awareness, inviting listeners to reflect on societal themes in an engaging musical journey."
-- New Music Fire

"Seattle based singer songwriter Rusty Reid has something to say. It can get politically charged, but c'mon, someone's got to say it. His single 'The United States of Selfishness' is a folk rock story of epic proportions, with a very impactful message. With a political ballad masterpiece of a song, Rusty manages to both stimulate our souls and brains in one neatly wrapped musical ballad. Rusty's voice is ever so smooth yet powerful, smooth yet full of grit and he takes flight, soaring high with emotions throughout 'The United States of Selfishness.' We wish Rusty all the best, he surely deserves it... and we can't wait for his future releases... we're sure it's going to be absolutely mind blowing."
-- Rock Era Magazine

"As a singer-songwriter, Reid possesses a unique ability to interlace modern liberal philosophy and spiritual musings into his musical tapestry, firmly establishing himself as a poignant figure in contemporary American music. In his latest musical endeavor, "The United States of Selfishness," Reid presents not just a song but an anthem that effortlessly transcends the confinements of genre. This guitar-centric pop-country-rock opus, a testament to Reid's artistic prowess, serves as a vivid portrait of a nation in tumult. It acts as a reflective mirror, revealing the intricacies and contradictions ingrained in the very fabric of the United States."
-- Allen Peterson Reviews

"Rusty Reid recently dropped a new single called "The United States of Selfishness" and it's definitely worth a listen. This rock artist has been consistently putting out killer tunes for years that have such a classic, timeless vibe. From the first notes, his music pulls you in with a classic rock sound and roots you to the spot until it's over. And Rusty has always had a way of sneaking in some deeper social or political messages underneath those hook-filled melodies too."
-- Underground Sounds/EDM Rekords

"Throughout these last few years, Seattle's Rusty Reid has always been one to capture moments in time through his music. And with a passionate run of releases under his belt already, he returns to the fold with his immersive new ode 'The United States Of Selfishness.'"
-- Flex

"Far more than a mere song, 'The United States of Selfishness' emerges as a musical manifesto, a call to action, and an impassioned plea for societal change. Rusty Reid fearlessly confronts the historical and present political tumult within the United States, scrutinizing the surge of authoritarianism, intolerance, belligerence, and racism not only within his homeland but also in various nations grappling with analogous challenges. With melodies soaring and lyrics searing, Rusty Reid masterfully crafts a piece of political art that transcends conventional musical boundaries. The deliberate length of the song affords listeners ample time to reflect on its weighty themes. 'The United States of Selfishness' transcends mere melody; it serves as a declaration, a cautionary note, and an optimistic appeal for liberation from the shackles of our collective nemesis-ourselves. Rusty Reid's impassioned delivery and thought-provoking lyrics transform this single into a rallying cry for those who believe in the transformative power of music."
-- Jyla's Blog

"Prepare for a musical experience that's as audacious as it is thought-provoking. Rusty Reid's latest single, 'The United States of Selfishness,' ventures into the realms of philosophical-political commentary, offering a searing reflection on the current state of the nation and, by extension, the world. Apologies for the deviation from the usual musical fare, but 'The United States of Selfishness' isn't your average track. Rusty Reid fearlessly tackles the turbulent political landscape of the United States, addressing the historical and contemporary upheavals that have shaped the nation. Yet, the narrative extends beyond borders, resonating with any society grappling with authoritarianism, intolerance, belligerence, and racism-a global struggle against a quasi-fascist tide. Rusty Reid's musical journey takes an unconventional turn, injecting substance and socio-political introspection into the airwaves. 'The United States of Selfishness' beckons you to listen, to contemplate, and perhaps, to act-a call to collective responsibility as we navigate the precarious waters of our shared existence."
-- Musike Pool, UK

"In a world brimming with catchy hooks and superficial lyricism, Rusty Reid's latest offering, "The United States of Selfishness," stands as a towering edifice of musical profundity. Released on November 27, 2023, this single is not just a song; it's a socio-political manifesto set to a captivating musical landscape."
-- Principle Music, UK

"Rusty does not hesitate to address the issues afflicting modern society with incredible bravery, questioning everything from the functioning of the state and its policies that incentivize selfishness to the behavior of individuals and how we have accepted this way of living as entirely normal in our daily lives. This song is one that you can listen to 30 years from now, and its message will still be relevant."
-- Bad Wolf Records

"Rusty Reid's willingness to address pressing issues through his music cements this track as a compelling work of political art, offering a necessary reflection on the challenges humanity faces today."



There's a nation in the balance
There's a country going down
Institutions are a wobbling
There's an evil circling round

There's a rot inside the belly
Of the state we say we love
A sickness of the national mind
We just can't get rid of

It's as old as the republic
Tory disdain for democracy
Confederate zeal for hubris.
And white, Christian male supremacy
Seedy, greedy, corporate corsairs
Running loose across the land
The United States of Selfishness
Is a nation built of sand

What of the poor and infirm?
Conservatives don't give a damn
Black lives, brown lives, women and workers
Reduced to servants for the scam

See the brownshirts emboldened
Claiming this nation for their own
Some say the days are numbered
I'll put my faith in sea and stone

The American Dream lies bleeding
Run through by subterfuge
How we got this far is a wonder
Culture held together like a kluge
America is drowning and ablaze
This might be our final stand
The United States of Selfishness
Is a nation built of sand

Don't know how it came to this
Was it ever really real
The dream sabotaged by sophistry
As were our founding ideals

Seems more like a nightmare
To those enslaved and shoved off their lands
And those whose rights hard-won
May yet slip right out of their hands

Don't hide behind tradition
We're long past due for something new
Too much of the good world beaten down
Too much believed that is not true
Can you not hear the silent screams
Of the oppressed like they can
The United States of Selfishness
Is a nation built of sand

Music & Lyrics by Rusty Reid
Copyright © 2020 Rio Paso Music (BMI)

Rusty - vocals, electric guitar
Jed Demlow - keyboards, bass
Jason Roller - acoustic guitars, electric guitars
Darin Watkins - drums

Jed Demlow: keyboards, bass

Jason Roller: guitars

Darin Watkins: drums

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© Copyright Rio Paso Music Productions