Is music political?

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Postby D. Phillips » Thu May 23, 2002 11:23 am

Stop now or Jake will kick us out.

So, how big a sell out was Rage Against the Machine? They carried on and on about communism and social reforms all the while on a HUGE label.

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Postby Jake » Thu May 23, 2002 11:29 am

Watch it, fellas.

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Postby trix » Thu May 23, 2002 11:31 am

the best music comes from personal experience. so people get pushed to write something personal about something they're passionate about like politics or the state of the nation.
but relentless politics is a pain to listen to...

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Postby ryanking » Thu May 23, 2002 12:32 pm

Oh yeah, totally Vit, overtly political stuff is pretty hard to take. I'm thinking of Billy Bragg's political stuff versus his nonpolitical stuff. Much easier to listen to his nonpolitical stuff.

The performer-audience bond is already fascistic enough- one voice speaking down to many- and when the performer starts preaching, who can stand that?

But does music need to be overtly political to be political? Isn't every song giving you some kind of message? I am thinking of country songs that talk about family and ghosts of soldiers and shit like that, compared against the Zombies whose lyrics discuss fretful lonely you-stole-my-girl-you-bastard single-man topics. The subject seems to be important.

Also, can certain rhythms or styles of music evoke certain types of political behavior that may be political? i.e. does Rage elicit rage? and does Natalie Merchant make you wanna stay home and read novels on the couch?

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Postby jaimoe0 » Tue Jun 11, 2002 2:20 am

Natalie Merchant makes me want to jam a screwdriver in my ear. I think really overtly political music is more of a young person's game, when you can still believe that things are starkly black or white, right or wrong. When you start living in the big, mean world where it's all shades of grey, I think "personal politics" becomes more important. Songs about how people treat each other and how they interact with the world, all of which says a lot about your world view and the kind of person you are. Certainly I think we can all agree that there's room in this world for both Anti-Flag and John Prine.

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Postby Sugarcubes Forever » Tue Jun 11, 2002 7:53 am

Billy Bragg's 'political' stuff is the best. Now Phil Ochs, that could could jam a great folk tune!

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Postby ryanking » Tue Jun 11, 2002 8:13 am

I can see the point that growing up, one believes that politics are not a black and white issue... makes you see the shades of grey. And I can see how as that worldview sets in, one could find oneself turned off from those old "black and white" songs.

I guess the political songs that I really get into are not the ones about a particular issue, oh god those make me cringe, that Midnight Oil line about "the Breakfast Creek Hotel is up for sale...blah blah blah terra firma gaveled in the mail..." That line makes me fucking cringe. Eew!

But the political songs that I think will always resonate, are the ones that talk about taking someone down, overthrowing power. Bad Brains with the lightning bolt destroying the U.S. Capitol on their album cover. Coup D' Etat by the Circle Jerks. The Locust. This stuff is potent and real and if anything, needs to be listened to MORE as old age threatens to wall you in to its own peculiar black/whiteness.

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Postby vitas » Tue Jun 11, 2002 12:53 pm

i swear, everytime i see this topic i think about the minutemen's "political song for michael jackson to sing" and it makes me smile.

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Postby rmcard » Tue Jun 11, 2002 1:13 pm

To say that the Crusades weren't about money is foolish... those were some VERY valuable trade routes between Asia and Europe that were at stake.

But enough of that - examples of singers taking themselves too seriously and overstepping their boundaries - REM's Ignoreland... a terrible song and a stupid message cluttering up an otherwise amazing album.

Politics done well - Ian MacKaye and Fugazi. At least you know there is no vested interest there...

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Postby madness » Wed Jun 12, 2002 1:47 pm

Speaking of Billy Bragg, I saw a really cool TV show on Ovation network last night about Woody Guthrie. It focused on the making of Mermaid Avenue. It will probably replay more this month.

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