Sunday, November 27, 2005

Where are the war protest songs? I don't hear them on commercial radio when I'm (fortunately infrequently) exposed to commercial radio - though apparently there is a pro-war, pro-Bush song from some country band that's big now. The station I listen to most, KEXP, could be expected to play explicitly anti-war songs, and I've heard exactly one, by Mike Doughty (man behind Soul Coughing) called "Move On." (My Morning Jacket's "Gideon" could be construed as anti-war, but is by no means explicitly so.) I sure there are others that I just haven't heard, but.

It would be easy to blame corporations for squelching songs of dissent, but that would be wrong. The big record companies care more for profits than they do for any particular administration or its policies, and as soon as there IS a breakthrough anti-war song that rakes in the dough those corporations will rush to produce at least fifty more copycats than the market can bear. Big radio might be more prone to gov't pressure, answering as they do to the FCC (not to mention the political leanings of some of the more fatbastardish of them). So while certain members of a certain administration no doubt WOULD advocate censorship, I don't believe censorship is what's keeping political, much less anti-war songs, off the radio stations I'm listening to.

I would hope there's a market for music of dissent and musicians with both the anger and the appetite to create new music of opposition and dissent. Perhaps there is and I'm just not tuned into it: I have no idea what's being written in the worlds of goth and slash and metal and hip-hop. And I recognize the perceived dangers of politicizing one's music from a personal standpoint: selling out comes in many flavors, and though one's heart may be true and the music good, art for art's sake is a strong policeman - heaven save the artistic reputation of a band that makes it big on the wave of a topical song.

When contemporary classical was being written during the Vietnam era, what pieces where explicitly anti-war? Are there composers now writing anti-war, anti-Bush (or pro-war, pro-Bush) music? I'd like to think that most composers and listeners of contemporary classical music (as well as progressive rock) lean left politically if they lean politically at all - need I be disabused of this notion? How apolitical or political is much of the music I'm now listening to on some of the streams some of you have aimed me at?


Anonymous Blue in Indiana said...

Think of Ani DiFranco, how people think of her politics before her music. It's a cautionary tale: no matter how good a piece of her music may be, she'll always be thought of first as a polemicist, not a musician.

12:38 PM  

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