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November 16, 2005

Comments

Aha! I was trying to figure out how to describe the music, but couldn't. It just came to me, though: it's like Steve Earle after a lobotomy.

You are doing yourself a disservice if you don't go to www.thepartyparty.com and download "My name is RX" and "Dick is a Killer"

These are spliced bits of Bush speaking mixed into an adorable electronic dance mix. It's not just a statement - it's actual, enjoyable music (well, if you don't find the genre offensive and even if you do it's a funny listen once)

There is occasional language but nothing the vice president hasn't said on the floor of the senate so how bad could it be?

Good grief. What ridiculous tripe. It practically parodies itself.

This must be countered with... Eric Schwartz!


Crooks & Liars has Olberman's "video" for the song.

I understand that Tim Robbins did not allow a CD release of the Bob Roberts soundtrack because he was afraid the songs would catch on -- at face value -- among the right. You might want to bear that in mind before creating (what you think are obviously) parodies, since from what I see here, nothing is an obvious parody to these people.

Wow. With no advance warning about its origins, one might think for a moment that it was Weird Al...only missing the originality. Seriously, singalongs for toddlers (Barney comes to mind) are more listenable than this.

Thank you for only linking to a snippet. Any more and I might have had to submit myself for exorcism.

Hilzoy: The world-view is a bit wacky and conspiratorial for my taste, but the music is great.

It's been well over a decade since I've seen the film, and I know where you are coming from with this, but I can't help but think about the revelation that Bob Woodward -- the Bob Woodward who laid bare the conspiratorial machinations of the Nixon White House -- covered for the Bush White House in the Valerie Plame outing. He didn't just keep silent to protect a source, either. He went on the air and carried water.

I mean, egads.

Gromit: you have a point. Still, they made that movie before GWB.

If anyone feels really, really masochistic, try Diary of an Unborn Child. And if you listen to it, listen until the end.

And for Jackmormon: I Want to be a Mother, by Mormon Kids.

"If anyone feels really, really masochistic, try Diary of an Unborn Child. And if you listen to it, listen until the end."

So you're saying we shouldn't abort our listening experience?

I'm sorry, but I believe that should be up to the conscience of the listener.

hilzoy: Still, they made that movie before GWB.

Yeah, but the thing is, this stuff isn't new. "Bob Roberts" came on the heels of Iran-Contra, and so the Giancarlo Esposito character rants about the CIA creating the crack epidemic (if I remember correctly), but he could just as easily talk about cabals of corporate journalists and war profiteers conspiring to sell a bogus war to a public reeling from a devastating terrorist attack.

Not to say that the paranoid fantasies are frequently true, just that there is sometimes more truth to them then I'd like there to be, and, often enough, what is really going on behind the scenes is actually worse. Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, George Bush, Judith Miller, etc. are only the latest in a long parade of people who think they know better than we what is good for America. That's what "Bob Roberts" was about, not the particulars of this or that nutjob conspiracy theory.

Cant listen. dialup. A sincere thanx for no blogads.

Now, I think that in general, musicians are political nitwits and they should follow the example of the Grateful Dead and just leave it alone, or more to the point be like Little Feat and have a song like "A Apolitical Blues".

But on the other hand I was secretly hoping that at the Republican convention, the nomination would be celebrated by playing "The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, and dropping red and black balloons, just to have liberals lose their sphincter control.

Actually, I really wanted "The Seige and Investiture of the Castle of Baron von Frankenstein in Wisseria", but that isn't really the original B'OC.

WORLD WITHOUT END!

Well darn, I couldnt find my B Occult CDs to get pumped up, so I had to substitute Hawkwind's "A Space Ritual":

Sonic Attack
THINK ONLY OF YOURSELF!!!

Master of the Universe
'nuff said

(I had to remove the Smiths "Louder than Bombs" from the CD player to listen to the good stuff. "I know I'm Unloveable" might be a good theme song for Dennis Kucinich.)

OK Yeah I know that's old fart stuff.

T'ain't Alice's Restaurant, that's for sure.

On the topic of music... I just bought the latest Patti Smith cd (haven't really listened to her since "Easter") and that woman "rawks" (isn't that what the kids say today?). Excellent. Also got three Joe Strummer cds on a whim. Venceremos!!

OK I realize I bore everybody to death with my musical tastes, but really, really, if you want to listen to one of the GREAT albums of the 90's, do yourself a favor and get one of these Ween albums: "The Mollusk" or "Chocolate and Cheese".

I'm thinking C&C is best because I just listened to it, skipping over the few songs that you will only want to listen to once or twice, The Mollusk is better in that regard (listenable all the way thru), but and the best songs on C+C are really good. And i do go along with the message at the end of C+C.

Music that's directly political is almost uniformly awful, except The Clash, and really, who could understand Joe Strummer's singing, anyway? Or know what he meant by stuff like Shaking single-engine planes are traffic-KING stereos from Cuba? Regardless, music that comes from sufficiency is rarely popular, at least in the point of view I formed in the process of typing this.

Can I point out Rush as right-wing music, or is that too objectivist to qualify? I know Geddy Lee's vocals drive some people up a tree, but if you can ignore those, the music behind them is quite.

Can I point out Rush as right-wing music

i just recently re-purchased Moving Pictures - backfilling my CD collection (though this was via iTunes, etc). anyway, yes. Peart's lyrics definitely run libertarian at times. but at other times:


    An ill wind comes arising
    Across the cities of the plain
    There’s no swimming in the heavy water
    No singing in the acid rain
    Red alert
    Red alert

    ...

    Left and rights of passage
    Black and whites of youth
    Who can face the knowledge
    That the truth is not the truth?
    Obsolete
    Absolute

    -- Distant Early Warning

sounds kinda lefty to me

I much prefer it when ObWi speaks the truth to power. Making fun of the helpless really isn't your forte.

But then, I did get a laugh out of it.

Ah, but 2112 maps practically one-to-one to Anthem.

Although Trees has a distinctly French-revolution air to it, I think it probably wasn't written as a stamp of approval:

There is unrest in the forest, There is trouble with the trees, For the maples want more sunlight And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.

YMMV, though.

I was secretly hoping that at the Republican convention, the nomination would be celebrated by playing "The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, and dropping red and black balloons, just to have liberals lose their sphincter control.

With laughter? Yeah, I'd liked to have seen those old guys bopping along to BOC, too. Very Osbornes. For your good work, I appoint you organizer of the '08 RNC.

Last week at Unfogged, frequent commenter Chopper rewrote "Wig in a box" as "The ballad of Paul Deignan." Hilarious, if very inside baseball.

IMO, 2112 is Rush at their most Randian. The rest is more hippie-libertarian than actually "right-wing."

Slartibartfast: Can I point out Rush as right-wing music, or is that too objectivist to qualify? I know Geddy Lee's vocals drive some people up a tree,

I would be one of those people. I strongly associate Rush with 16-year-old libertarianism and/or objectivism, that phase of adolescent development where all an individual can think about is getting out from under the thumb of his parents and striking out on his own, when he thinks he owes his position in life to nothing more than his own strength of character, and when he is completely blind to the privilege that allows him to afford a CD player, several pairs of meticulously ripped jeans, a collection of Rand and Heinlein novels, and a Rush box set.

So it might not just be the vocals that drive me up a tree.

but if you can ignore those, the music behind them is quite.

With that I'd have to agree. Quite, indeed.

Ah, but 2112 maps practically one-to-one to Anthem

i've never read Anthem, but since it's Rand, it's probably the inspiration for Rush's Anthem:

    Know your place in life is where you want to be
    Don’t let them tell you that you owe it all to me
    Keep on looking forward, no use in looking ’round
    Hold your head above the ground and they won’t bring you
    Down

    Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
    A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
    We marvel after those who sought
    New wonders in the world, wonders in the world,
    Wonders in the world they wrought

    Live for yourself -- there’s no one else
    More worth living for
    Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
    Only cry out for more

    Well, I know they’ve always told you
    Selfishness was wrong
    Yet it was for me, not you, i
    Came to write this song

stupid begging hands.

Rush: book reports in song!

While the music behind Rush is definitely quite, I have never found it to be quiet. More's the pity, as they (and most other political rockers IMHO) seem the embodiment of John Cage's line "I have nothing to say and I am saying it"

Yeah, that's "Anthem", pretty much in a nutshell. The only Rand I ever read, and it's a short work, thank god. I pity those who started with "Atlas Shrugged" (many of them in it only for the scholarship competition, no doubt), because it took them that much longer to move on to more worthwhile things in life.

Hey, at least you're saying it well.

Hilzoy, the "I Want To Be A Mother" song sounds truly truly alarming. I don't have real player, though (and last time I installed it it promptly self-destructed), so I will have to just thank you for the nod. I hear that the LDS are also getting into the indie film market...

I do have a hard time with this idea that there is little good political music, though. It's just a question of the set of good musicians/writers intersecting with the set of good political thinkers. The '60's and '70's folk explosion produced a great deal good of stuff, with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, etc. How many times has "Big Yellow Taxi" been remade now (travesties in all cases, if you ask me). The '80's had punk and the likes of U2. The '90's had... well, you can't win them all, I guess (I probably just wasn't paying attention, actually). I suppose there were the feminist songwriters like Tracy Chapman and the Indigo Girls (never really my cup of tea, but certainly popular). And there is some good political hip-hop out there as I write this.

And then there is stuff like Paul Simon, or Greg Brown, where the music isn't necessarily overtly political, but there are political themes sometimes woven into the cultural criticism of the music, or, in Simon's case, even into the music itself. Simon's "The Boy in the Bubble" is a fantastic song, for instance, and quite political in my mind, though it aims so much for the subconscious, I would have a hard time articulating just what particular issues it is addressing.

But on the other hand I was secretly hoping that at the Republican convention, the nomination would be celebrated by playing "The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, and dropping red and black balloons, just to have liberals lose their sphincter control.

Would there have been cowbell?

The '60's and '70's folk explosion...

and, on the other side of the spectrum, there's the classic anti-war anthem: War Pigs.

    Politicians hide themselves away.
    They only started the war.
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor, yeah.

timeless.

"Cant listen. dialup."

? My connection is on a 56k modem, and the actual speed tops out at 49.2k, but I don't have any more trouble hearing the short stream than I ever have. Do you have 14.4k, or what? Even a 33k should work for a short stream. What problem arises for you?

"I just bought the latest Patti Smith cd (haven't really listened to her since "Easter") and that woman "rawks" (isn't that what the kids say today?)."

I first saw her reading poetry at St. Marks Church, with Richard Sohl doing piano backup, circa 1974 or so; became deeply attached. Though not so much as my friend X, who started sleeping with Jay Dee Daugherty, the drummer acquired once Lenny Kaye helped Patti put together the band. Lenny and I had have a whole bunch of mutual friends from science fiction fandom, where he, too, was once a core active fanzine fan as a teen; he might not remember me now, since the last time we chatted at a small party was more than a quarter century ago, but I'm sure he well remembers some of our various mutual friends.

I'm still a great admirer of Patti Smith (and Lenny has done all sorts of interesting compilation albums of rare stuff, nuggets, and whatnot), although none of us will ever be young again (not, at least, unless we make it to the fabled land of nanotech in a few decades).

I don't know that she'll ever do anything better, or even as good as, her first three ablums, particularly Horses and Easter, but she doesn't have to.

Jackmormon: it's sung by two girls in their, maybe, early teens, with quite good voices. One lead, the other harmony about half the time. Instrumentation: what you might expect to find on a carousel at an amusement park.

"When I grow up I want to be a mother
And have a family
One little, two little, three little babies of my own

Of all the jobs, for me I'll choose no other
We'll have a family
Four little, five little, six little babies in my home

And I will love them all day long
And give them cookies and milk and yellow balloons
And cuddle them when things go wrong
And read them stories and sing them pretty tunes

When I grow up if I can be a mother
How happy I will be
One little, two little, three little babies I can love

And you will see each sister and each brother
Who look a lot like me
Four little, five little, six little blessings from above."

Gromit,

My problem with political music is that the format is generally so limiting (by song length, by needing to have music that conforms to the public's definition of "rock" to get played on the radio, and by the corporate mentality that avoids contraversy in choosing radio stations' playlists) that political statements can't be well made. Even someone like Don Henley, whose political views I generally agree with and who I consider an excellent songwriter, has more misses than hits for me when he gets political, although some of his successes (e.g., The Last Resort, A Month of Sundays) are among my favorite songs.

The late '60's/early '70's folkies were writing in an entirely different era, where radio was willing to experiment far more than today.

Dantheman: My problem with political music is that the format is generally so limiting (by song length, by needing to have music that conforms to the public's definition of "rock" to get played on the radio, and by the corporate mentality that avoids contraversy in choosing radio stations' playlists) that political statements can't be well made.

Oh, you mean music on commercial radio. That's an entirely different story. That's like saying there aren't many good political sitcoms.

"Music that's directly political is almost uniformly awful, except The Clash...."

It's conceivable this might be a more popular view on the right than the left.

On the other hand, taste is subjective and inarguable.

But I would consider both political and not bad songs such as "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" and "Joe Hill" and "Blowing In the Wind" and "Ohio" and "For What It's Worth" and "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" and "Hurricane" and "Born In The USA" and "Volunteers" (dumb politics, but politics, and good in its time), "We Shall Overcome," "Revolution," "God Save The Queen," and many many others, not to mention "The Ballad of Serenity."

BINGO!

Believe it or not, I count Joni Mitchell and Arlo Guthrie among my musical favorites. Stripped of the musicality (and in Guthrie's case, the humor) their songs would likely suck. Although Mitchell's voice would make up for much, maybe all, of the suckiness.

And, DTM, I think The Last Resort is one of The Eagles' best tunes. Wasted Time, on the same album, is a close second.

Oh, hilzoy, that's classic. I'm not sure whether the best part is the exactly six children (the devout LDS quantity) or the chillingly narcissistic "each sister and each brother/Who look a lot like me"...

Among my mother's siblings, number of children corresponds pretty much exactly to religious dogmatism.

Do you have 14.4k, or what? Even a 33k should work for a short stream. What problem arises for you?

I really should get around to replacing that AOL media player on this computer. Unless those pauses are part of the song. So I listened in fits and starts, and thought "Gary put me thru this".

Ok, Gary, I just knew there was something inaccurate about what I said; thanks for pointing it out. And yes, I realize that taste is not arguable. I'm rather fond of The Clash, but I don't expect my father to ever appreciate them, for example.

Thesis: songs that are overtly and seriously about specific current events are nearly always awful. Discuss.

Stripped of the musicality (and in Guthrie's case, the humor) their songs would likely suck.

Ok, that came out entirely wrong. Please disregard until I can figure out what I meant by that.

Laura Nyro's "Christmas In My Soul" likely would make Hilzoy march on Washington, or at least take a cab. Ms Nyro was underappreciated I think.

songs that are overtly and seriously about specific current events are nearly always awful

CSNY's Ohio. written, recorded and released a week after the events, IIRC.

As was "Let's Roll". Same guy.

Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth"

XTC's "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead"

Marvin Gaye? And John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", while musically pedestrian, at least has funny lyrics and was recorded in bed, with pajamas on. Plus he almost had to interrupt the love-in to leap out of bed and pop cartoonist Al Capp in the mouth for exhibiting an insufficient ability to get with the program.

Then we have Bob Dylan. I thought one of the interesting things that came out of the Scorcese documentary on Dylan was that he really had no use for the political themes and the issues in some of his early songs.
This was something that pissed off lover Joan Baez, for whom political earnestness was a 24/7 burden.

Yes, Bono and U2. But I'm afraid that when I see Bono now, I get that "gag me with a spoon" sensation that I'm about to be preached to with utmost earnestness. But U2's music and musicianship and some good lyric writing overcame the paralyzing straitjacket of didacticism.

So, I'm not into recent Green Day stuff. To mention one band.

I run the other way when a song wants me to march on somebody somewhere instead of artfully providing whatever musical magic it is that "explains" that funny feeling called love. Or maybe it was indigestion.

Though I would find it refreshingly refreshing if, in the middle of a seminar on, say, new techniques in caulking, someone would, as in a musical, break into song and some "West Side Story" ensemble dancing.

Didactic music affects me the same way Ayn Rand's novels do: The love scenes are merely ideological dry-humping.

Just like Hitler sort of ruined Wagner for everyone.

Dave C.'s comment that musician's are political nitwits is true. Centuries ago, I attended a Beach Boys concert and Mike Love, one of the biggest asshats ever who accidentally had a cousin who could write beautiful music, launched into an extended peroration on the Maharishi and peace and love and war, right in the middle of the proceedings. Somebody, probably Dave C., shouted out from the back "Shut the @#$& up you self-righteous %%%%%%%%%%% and sing a song"!

And they, the Boys, did. "Wouldn't It Be Nice", which has background harmonies hatched in the incredible musical mind of Brian Wilson that do what 12 centuries of political speeches can't do: Make you want to drop your weapons and jump into the Woody and take a long look into a girl's eyes on the way to the beach.

Change the genders of whomver you wish in that last sentence.

(Of course, these are ephemeral moments. Turns out the girl was looking past you at the guy in the T-Bird at the stoplight. So, out of frustration, you write one more beautiful song about aching unrequieted love (the subject of all great art) and then pick up the grenades and M-16 and resume invading
your country of choice, having nothing better to do.)

On the other hand, Dave C., did you get a load of John Ashcroft singing? Talk about working outside your area of expertise.


While shopping yesterday I noticed that Arista recently released a 30th anniversary "legacy" edition of Patti Smith's Horses.

The first CD contains the original album, with a 1975 Smith recording of The Who's "My Generation" as a bonus track. The second CD features Patti and her band, which includes Lenny Kaye, Jay Dee Daugherty, and Tom Verlaine (all of whom played on the original LP) performing the complete Horses album live, with a "My Generation" encore, at the Royal Festival Hall in London on June 25, 2005.

The amazon.com entry for this reissue is here.

Do they think I'm going to buy this album a THIRD time? Damn right I am!

"Ms Nyro was underappreciated I think."

I have consistently underappreciated her.

I am trying to distinguish political music from social commentary and it is not always easy. I like The Fall a lot;Blur feels political in the broader sense. There are more overtly leftist British groups than American.

Bunch of old farts around here; I can believe nobody has mentioned "American Idiot" or the Decemberists. We need some outreach to millenials.

Slartibartfast: Thesis: songs that are overtly and seriously about specific current events are nearly always awful. Discuss.

I would edit your thesis thus: Songs are nearly always awful.

I'll grant you there are plenty of examples to support your thesis (Paul McCartney's "Freedom", Elton John's wretched rewrite of "Candle in the Wind"), but these songs swim in a vast sea of mediocre music. Are they really exceptional in their poor quality? I'd say they are only exceptional in that they were recorded by musicians who once made exceptional music.

"The Ballad of Serenity."

That they couldn't find a place for that song was one of my few (minor) disappointments with the movie.

One of my problems with anglophone political songs (maybe political songs more generally) is that they too rarely break out of the singer-songwriter mold. Sung by a single performer to an audience being performed to, defiant or mournful political sentiments too easily start to sound self-righteous or parodical or merely dull. "If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution," as the saying goes. Franco's "Attention Na SIDA," for example, was a political song that was also a huge dance hit.

"CSNY's Ohio. written, recorded and released a week after the events, IIRC."

Is that a refutation, or an agreement?

I'd say it was a good song, and objectively it was very popular and remains, obviously, very well-remembered. But, of course, that doesn't invalidate anyone thinking it sucks.

No love for The Minutemen? Or the Mekons?

Laura Nyro, I like. I also once really, really, really liked a girl who liked Laura Nyro's music. Well, hey, me too. In fact, I can play a few of her songs on piano, which I learned last week after seeing you for the first time.

She (Nyro) did a version of "Walk On By", just her singing and playing piano, that kills me.

On the other hand, I saw her a few years before she died and she was very fine, but she also played a song about animal rights.
Right at that moment, I stopped liking all animals and wanted to eat all of them.

I'm sorry, I guess I should explain to various bio-ethicists who might be listening that I believe chickens should be free-range and not crammed into those feces-swamped cages and if everyone else goes along, I think chickens should all be set free and never eaten.

But I don't want to hear any songs about chicken love and freedom.

Unless I happen to be in love with a chicken at the time.

I'd say it was a good song, and objectively it was very popular and remains, obviously, very well-remembered. But, of course, that doesn't invalidate anyone thinking it sucks.

well, if you're gonna bring out that argument, slarti's whole thesis becomes moot! :) no, i believe some things can be objectively deemed "awful", and "Ohio" isn't one of them.

Bunch of old farts around here;

...

One of my problems with anglophone political songs (maybe political songs more generally) is that they too rarely break out of the singer-songwriter mold.

OK, here's a kinda recent one, liner note from 2000, w/ song like "world police and friendly fire" to inspire teh loony lefters, w/o singer-songwriters:

"lift yr. skinny fists like antennas to heaven!" by Godspeed You Black Emperor

Ambitious, but I don't get it

"I would edit your thesis thus: Songs are nearly always awful."

Hello, Mr. Sturgeon. I think the last time we chatted was in Seattle, circa 1978.

Gromit:

I'll grant you there are plenty of examples to support your thesis (Paul McCartney's "Freedom", Elton John's wretched rewrite of "Candle in the Wind"), but these songs swim in a vast sea of mediocre music. Are they really exceptional in their poor quality? I'd say they are only exceptional in that they were recorded by musicians who once made exceptional music.

A while back I had the idea that certain artists, and McCartney and John are definitely among them, really ought to issue 2-CD sets featuring their best AND worst material. Disc One would contain the songs they're proudest of, while Disc Two would contain the clunkers. This would show that they have a sense of humor, and I think people would even buy the things.

Other artists who could easily fill a CD with good material and one with bad: Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Phil Collins, and Sting. I'm sure you can think of more.

Right at that moment, I stopped liking all animals and wanted to eat all of them.

what do you think about tributes to dead dogs? Karla Bonoff did one of these which makes me cringe, but I tear up whenever I think about Henry Gross's "Shannon"

I have mixed feelings about Ohio; on the one hand it wasn't awful, but on the other hand Neil Young's vocals drive me absolutely up a tree. At least Geddy Lee makes more than a half-hearted attempt to sing in tune.

But: not awful.

But I'm afraid that when I see Bono now, I get that "gag me with a spoon" sensation that I'm about to be preached to with utmost earnestness.

Me, too. And that's a big swing from a guy who camped out all night to get front row seats to see U2 at Reunion Arena a couple of decades ago. Backup act: Red Rockers, whose only hit (China)I play to my kids all the time.

Other artists who could easily fill a CD with good material and one with bad

Van Morrison, even without the Contractual Obligation Album

oh... Joni Mitchell's/CSNY's "Woodstock" ?

"Or the Mekons?"

Heh. I have about 20 mp3s, but, then, I've been good friends with Dave Langford, Jon Langford's brother, for nearly thirty years.

Um, I actually only know a couple of handfuls of people in the music business.... (Well, my cousin Abbe, who grew up living on the top floor of the two-family house I grew up living on the bottom floor of, was once the road manager for The Village People, and Debbie Gibson's manager, and has worked with lots of other groups, and there are a few other odd connections, but still.)

And Dr. Frank did tell me last week that a gift package of CDs was in the mail, which was sweet of him. MTX, anyone?

"Though I would find it refreshingly refreshing if, in the middle of a seminar on, say, new techniques in caulking, someone would, as in a musical, break into song and some 'West Side Story' ensemble dancing."

Aside from bringing to mind "Once More, With Feeling," I hope everyone has seen this (I recommend downloading, rather than streaming; if you don't know how, depending upon your browser, try right-clicking and "save link as"; several megabytes, though.)

(And even better, this.)

"But I don't want to hear any songs about chicken love and freedom."

Proving I'm a Whedonzombie, I immediately think of Master Joss explaining that the more chicken scenes you can have, the better. "Gotta have the chickens!"

So I try to count chicken scenes in his work when I can. (As in the early part of the original "Serenity.")

Gary--kewl. One of my good HS friends was in a band that backed up Langford & Timms several times, though I never exploited this connection to hang out with them. Why I don't know.

I think that if any fact in this area is objective, it is that Neil Young's voice is less annoying than Geddy Lee's. Modus tollens if you like.

I'd also like to send a shout-out to Woody Guthrie for some good American political songs, singer-songwriter though he may be. (Also Uncle Dave Macon's "Governor Al Smith.")

slarti's whole thesis becomes moot!

As if that's never happened before. If you'd said the point is moo, maybe Thullen would be hungry again.

McCartney and John are definitely among them, really ought to issue 2-CD sets featuring their best AND worst material

Ebony and ivory live together in purrfect harmony, side by side at my piano keyboard oh-oh why don't we? Guess which CD I think that one belongs on? Trouble with McCartney is that there may be disagreement as to what song belongs on which disk. Magneto and Titanium Man I'd put on best of, but I can see how some might put it on the other one. Paul was at his best and worst all in the same song, sometimes. I think Ram (the whole album) is one of his best works post-Beatles, but some may opine that songs like Monkberry Moon Delight, for instance, put it in the worst-of pile.

Just more fuel for the fire, I guess.

"...on the other hand Neil Young's vocals drive me absolutely up a tree."

What's remarkable is that no one else has ever voiced similar opinions. Ditto of Meester Dylan.

:-) (I've always been more than fine with both, myself, but it's just as well neither ever, so far as I know, auditioned for the Carpenters.)

cleek's nominee for "pther artists who could easily fill a CD with good material and one with bad":

Van Morrison, even without the Contractual Obligation Album

I'd forgotten about my near-namesake! You are correct, cleek.

cleek's nominee for "other artists who could easily fill a CD with good material and one with bad":

Van Morrison, even without the Contractual Obligation Album

I'd forgotten about my near-namesake! You are correct, cleek.

Sixty odd comments on political music and no mention of Rage Against the Machine. Must rectify that.

Also, thinking of politics and unrequited love, no one has ever done the combination quite as well or with as much anti-commercial zeal as the Violent Femmes.

I think that if any fact in this area is objective, it is that Neil Young's voice is less annoying than Geddy Lee's.

Less annoying to whom? Is there a meter out there that measures annoyance?

Objective: I do not think...aw, forget it.

Sixty odd comments on political music and no mention of Rage Against the Machine.

Maybe it's because they SUCK, objectively?

Hey, just poking. I loathe them, but I recognize that there are a whole lot of people that don't.

My daughter introduced me to Maná and Manu Chao. Of course, to understand the politics you have to know some Español. Desaparecido is great, lyrics and music both.

As for bad, there's a Monty Python / Beyond the Fringe video, "Pleasure at Her Majesty's," with a sendup of (I guess) a protest song. The chorus:

Rain on a tin roof
Sounds like a drum.
We're marching for freedom today.
(Hey!)
Turn on your headlights
And sound your horn
If people get in your way.

Maybe it's because they SUCK, objectively?

Hey, just poking.

LOL. They are an aquired taste, and their politics are...yeah...out there. But they are a good tofu and granola antidote.

Just don't start on the Femmes or we're throwin' down ;)

I'm suprpised nobody has mentioned Tom Paxton or Phil Ochs.

Slartibartfast: Less annoying to whom?

*raises hand*

Tom Paxton

wasn't he the handyman on Newhart?

err... close enough.

I just remembered the intro line... "I had to suffer for my music. Now it's your turn."

*raises hand*

*abstains from raising hand*

Oh, and while I'm not sure I'm sold on the music itself, Atom and His Package have come up with a lot of really delightful song titles, foremost of which is "I Can't Believe Sting is the Same Guy from the Police".

"Sixty odd comments on political music and no mention of Rage Against the Machine."

I thought of mentioning them, but I amn't sure how classifiable they actually are as "political," rather than, you know, angry. But, then, I'm in no way comprehensively familiar with their ouevre. Any good riffs on fixing Social Security?

"I'm suprpised nobody has mentioned Tom Paxton or Phil Ochs."

Haven't mentioned most singers/songwriters, even. :-)

I'm very fond of both of the above. And come to think of it, one of my other "we have some mutual friends" is Dave van Ronk, although I've never had any direct contact with him, so far as I recall. (Like almost all subcultures, there was some overlap between science fiction fandom of the fifties and early sixties and folk music circles; particularly Lee Hoffman, who published the now incredibly-rare mimeographed folk music zine, Gardyloo!, which I used to have a complete run of that she gave me in 1977.)

(Janis Ian is another crossover sf fan/folkie-ish singer, btw.)

In the household I was raised in, my mother perceived almost all music as noise, whatever kind it was, and my father had a mixed taste of show tunes; Sinatra; Peter, Paul, and Mary; the Weavers; Pete Seeger; and a smattering of other things, particularly old radio dramas. So: not a great heritage of music appreciation, but a proper pink diaper appreciation of commie folksingers, as well as The Shadow.

Not that anybody cares, but since I looked: Dave van Ronk. It surprises me not at all that I know every person mentioned on that first page.

Well, the best thing about the Lennon-McCartney partnership is that they each could tell the other "That is a piece of crap!" ("That" being maybe Mary Had a Little Lamb by Paul and I'm so miserable and the world is against me cause I'm a genius from John)

Alright then, how about this?: and out comes the hooky chords and maybe a scrap of lyric for Eleanor Rigby or A Day in the Life, etc.

So they saved their worst instincts for their solo careers.

But I agree roughly on "Ram". Wonderful melodies and great harmonies. But it misses the Lennon influence on McCartney's sunny good day sunshine, as in "Getting Better" where McCartney believes "It's getting better all the time" and Lennon throws in "it can't get much worse".

Well, they pretty much covered the universal condition between the two of them.

My other thesis about Lennon and McCartney is that love became requieted (Linda and Yoko) which put them in the quandry of the contented artist -- as most country music artists are (Johnny Cash being an exception)-- where they now had the woman, the dog, the truck, and the barcalounger (sp?), so the songs now become a drawn-out whine requesting the T.V. channel changer and a beer and, by the way, universal sufferage. More or less.

"Martha My Dear". A solid pure McCartney offering off the White Album. About the sheepdog. But not really, in our ears. It seems about "mysterious longing" But if he had saved that song for, say, "Venus and Mars", I'd have thought, nice song about the dog; so what's next, a song about his horse?

"Mary Had A Little Lamb"

Which Paul later added political gravitas to, by calling it: "Mary Shouldn't Have a Little Lamb, Because Lambs Have Faces Like We Do; She Should Have Fruit and Vegetables and Low-Fat Yoghurt, But It's O.K. If Mary Eats The Mint Jelly On The Side, Because Linda Says So.

One of my favorite political songs of all time is "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" by Phil Ochs:

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
Of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
As long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crane?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democtratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Hmm. Anyone remember Holly Near? We used to sing her songs at demonstrations, although I don't think we got the lyrics right:

We are weepy complaining peeeeople,
whining, whining for our lives.
People kept glaring at us. It might have also been because our protest signs often were things like "Committee for Living on Our Knees."

I guess we weren't your typical leftwing demonstrators...

So, this band I'm in (we've done some Beatle covers for a local radio station, and we are finishing up a CD of original stuff, which someday yall might be able to access and download) has talked (we talk a lot) about doing a full CD of covers of the best McCartney solo efforts and the best Lennon solo efforts, but trying to rewrite and rearrange AS IF the two had written the songs together.

Never happen.

Trying to think of good songs that reference specific events, have political content that goes beyond anger, and aren't singer/songwriter sets the bar awfully high.

By those standards something like "If I had a rocket launcher" wouldn't qualify because it lacks content.

But let us recall the classic Yip Harburg quote, "Words make you think thoughts, music makes you feel a feeling, but a song makes you feel a thought."

The goal of political music shouldn't be to provide analysis, but to dramatize a specific emotional response that is rooted in a reasonably analysis.

So would you accept a song like Laurie Anderson's "Love Among the Sailors" as a political song (about AIDS). It contains no specific political reference but still how can you shake the image of protest in "And if this is the work of an angry god, I want to look into his angry face"

Also I second the earlier mention of the minutemen.

What about "Get up, Stand Up" or "Buffalo Soldiers"?

What about the Pogues version of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"?

My other thesis about Lennon and McCartney is that love became requieted (Linda and Yoko) which put them in the quandry of the contented artist

Exactly. Art, for some reason, springs not lightly from contentedness. In general, I mean.

The first verse of that "Bush Was Right" song -- it sounds like a direct steal from Billy Joel's poppy chestnut, "We Didn't Start the Fire." It's a karaoke explosion of triumphalism! And electronic pitch correction!

Urrgh. Ouch. I gotta record a parody. I gotta. I can't help it... thanks, hilzoy, for stealing tonight's sleep. Must.. go.. to.. lab.. and.. make.. horrible.. sounds..

By those standards something like "If I had a rocket launcher" wouldn't qualify because it lacks content.

But it's still a good tune. Which brings up my recommendation to those who aren't allergic to compilation albums: Waiting For A Miracle.

dpu: Hmm. Anyone remember Holly Near? We used to sing her songs at demonstrations, although I don't think we got the lyrics right:

We are weepy complaining peeeeople,
whining, whining for our lives.

This calls up one of my fondest memories, of a comic named 'Gal' at the Womyn's Music Festival in the early 1990s, sending up Holly Near:

"Stop repressing people everywhere.
Stop repressing people everywhere.
It's just so totally unfair."

Only problem was, most of the audience was too young to know who and what she was parodying. I and the eight to ten left-wing geezer wimmin in the audience could be spotted easily by our appreciative howls of laughter; we were literally rolling on the ground.

Trying to think of good songs that reference specific events, have political content that goes beyond anger, and aren't singer/songwriter.

Why not singer/songwriter? And why does the political content have to go beyond anger?

Nina Simone 'Mississippi God Damn'
Talking Heads 'Life During Wartime'
Silvio Martinez 'Playa Giron'
Victor Jara 'Todo Cambiara'

Slartibartfast: Thesis: songs that are overtly and seriously about specific current events are nearly always awful. Discuss.

-- The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.

Ordinarily a single song could not refute a claim about what is "nearly always" true. But this song is so good it makes up for all the bad ones single-handed.

hilzoy, for some reason I cannot read your last comment unless I log into typepad and look at it. But: never heard of it.

Ok, scratch that: now I can see it, but still never hoid a it.

Slarti, look it up (and listen to it). Hilzoy is correct (as ever).

songs that are overtly and seriously about specific current events are nearly always awful

'Joanne Little' Sweet Honey in the Rock
'Armagh' Au Pairs

Maybe too obscure. But great songs.

Let's just say that any music I have that's that old (Dylan; early '60s) is jazz or blues. I don't actually own any Dylan.

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald ?

(no tomatoes please)

Just want to comment that Rush is my favorite band. By a lot.

Just running back through the comments, maybe a conclusion is that there are, in fact, some good songs with political content. Of course.

But maybe the love troubadors like Lennon and McCartney should have stuck to pied-pipering the youth of the land off to Pepperland and left the topical stuff to the folks who know how to write a three-chord anthem about making the world safe for celery.

I say this loving all three versions of "Revolution", especially the shooby-do-ahhs in the up-tempo version in the video. I like Revolution #9, too.

Not that there is anything wrong with celery. Except that I feel badly for it when I eat it. And I become bored while chewing it.

Anyway, the Right Brothers are not the Righteous Brothers and they inspire me to neither love nor storm the Bastille.

Mainly because I plan to use the Bastille later to imprison them and Buffy St. Marie.

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