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The short version? Suffice it to say that I am a lifelong fan of obscure punk/cult legend TV Smith but had lost touch with his recent output. While trolling around on You Tube, I stumbled upon a concert video of Smith performing his stunning protest epic Not In My Name, which I had been unaware of until that moment. This solo acoustic performance is a searing rallying cry and should be required viewing as far as I am concerned. From the intro:

All the power of the establishment, all it brings us is fucking war, hatred, inequality...and they say they do it "for us," well I don't believe that, and this is one I call "Not In My Name..."

Need more convincing before you'll check it out? Hit the extended for more random thoughts...

Protest music as a genre seems to have all but vanished from the popular entertainment sphere. With the possible exception of Neil Young's newest album Living With War, which, let's face it, has hardly saturated the airwaves in the manner of 1970's Ohio, protest music has been pretty much expunged from our national cultural discourse. Though I am not a big Dixie Chicks fan (I like 'em OK), there can be no question that the turmoil created by their rather tepid onstage remarks about Bush was a significant moment. I view the episode as an object lesson on the seriousness with which proponents of the war viewed the threat of having the popular will expressed via music (or musicians), and the lengths to which they would go to keep the idea of voices raised in protest harmlessly at bay. By and large they have succeeded masterfully and completely. Protest songs have become marginalized and ghettoized. This needs to be turned around.

I had planned to do a kind of brief history of recent popular protest music, including such topics as how protest songs in the 60s and 70s became mainstream and hastened the demise of the Vietnam War and the Nixon Administration. That diary will have to wait for another day.

In the meantime, I simply wish to share my find with other like minded folk, and urge you to post any information on relevant protest music that could be regarded as having potential to score with the masses. The performance of TV Smith that I have selected to begin the discussion comes from last October, and has only grown in relevance since then. The recorded version is electric, dark, and heavy, but I think it's hard not to be struck by the emotional intensity of the solo acoustic concert footage, if you're willing to give the song a fair hearing.

TV Smith has been fighting accepted mores and tropes for 30 years in his music, and his classic Crossing the Red Sea with The Adverts is a true desert island disk. His solo work after The Adverts dissolved was more exploratory, wide ranging, and challenging, but equally forward thinking and trenchant. He remains active and committed to a variety of progressive causes and ideals, having alternately invented, rejected, morphed and assmillated the punk ethos, which holds as it's credo "Think For Yourself."

I leave you with the full lyrics:


Why should I have to show my I.D.
There's no consensus and I don't agree
With what they're undertaking in my name
I'm appalled and I'm ashamed

Why should I have to show my I.D.
To be enrolled in this community
Where all my role models are on the take
And the real thing is fake

All my heroes died
While they were still alive
Confused or compromised
Their values undermined
They were led down to the hole
Where the blood and money flows

Why should I have to show my I.D.
Someone somewhere's got a file on me
And someone somewhere's got a file on you
Anyone will do

The world's ruled by a cheat
With his gang of thieves
Whose lies and double-speak
Spread faster than disease
And your pursuit of peace
Will mark you out a freak
A victim and a bore
While their portfolios soar
And weapons sales will peak
Aimed only at the weak
Those already on their knees
It's arms for amputees
It's the bullet's exit hole
Where the blood and money flows

Never again!
Not in my name!

Bad guys come first
The third world thirsts,
Starves or dies of AIDS
In the modern day crusades
The wild west will win
Defeat the Indians
Drive the devils to the door
With the homeless and the poor
And when there's nothing left to bomb
No-one left to beat
They'll train their crosswires on
The unseen enemy
The ever-present threat
That hasn't happened yet
And probably never will
Still they move in for the kill
But the night sights won't show
If you're friend or foe
Are you so much better than
The junkies and Saddam?
Are you guaranteed a place
When they build the master race?
Will the world then be pure?
We've heard that one before
In history's deepest holes
Where the blood and money flowed

Never again!
Not in my name!

Peace out.

Originally posted to mrblifil on Sat Aug 26, 2006 at 09:01 PM PDT.


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