I'm a very average dkos user. I'm coming to grips with the reality that Bill in Portland Maine is never going to ask me
What kind of music makes you feel invincible to the GOP horde?
So in this Friday between the final fundraising efforts and the GOTV rampup, I thought I'd go ahead and diary on some of my favorite political songs. Hopefully there's something for everyone here. As Doug Benson might say, "Join me, won't you?"
I'll start with a great song for warming up on the treadmill, which seems appropriate for a long race: "The Distance" by CAKE.
The undertone of the lyrics is not as optimistic as it seems, but we can take the positive outlook. Let's go the distance, my friends.
Next we can get to some of the angry stuff. The Beastie Boys want to blow the lid off the VWRC in "Sabotage":
In the nineties, pop culture seemed to be relatively free of politics. Rage against the Machine was an exception, and "Killing in the Name" is a great anti-war track:
This next song is not too well known in the US. It's by Loco Locass, a French Canadian hip hop trio who are politically outspoken and advocate for Québec language, culture, and sovreignty. I'm only Canadian by marriage so I probably shouldn't get involved with the sovreignty issue. But one of my favorite songs by them is "Groove Grave". Yes, the song is in French, and in the Québecois dialect, but the lyrics are poetical no matter the language. Luckily, too, the video highlights the words so if you know some French you can get the gist. It rails against the oversimplified us-vs.-them of Bush's worldview.
In the beginning, the intro comes up over a crowd murmur, which I think is a shout-out to "What's Goin' On?".
Here's a good pair of verses:
devant la beauté d'un acte terroriste
penser est un acte laïque, un acte héroïque
devant la beauté d'un acte historique
penser est un acte, un attentat symbolique
mais la panique nous fait manichéens
le bien le mal clament les américains
la terreur nous éteint faut etre nietzchéens
turbiner la peur comme la manic 5
And my attempted translation:
Before the beauty of a terrorist act
Thinking is a secular, heroic act
Before the beauty of a historic act
Thinking is a symbolic act
But panic makes us into Manicheans
"Good and Evil" say the Americans
Terror silences us, makes us into Nitzcheans
to whip up the fear like the Manic 5 [a hydroelectric power station in northern Québec]
Yes, I think there's something lost there. But give it a listen.
Back to English, and back a few decades. This is a song that if you haven't heard, you'll want to listen to it a couple of times. "The Revolution will not be televised" by Gil Scott-Heron. This is not an "official" video but it's a very stirring slideshow that illustrates some of the lyrics.
A lot of these references are old ad slogans—"the tiger in your tank," "fights germs that may cause bad breath", "gets rid of the nubs", and so on. The Wikipedia article has a good list. Heron's point, I think, is that constructed (white) culture is not going to tell us what's really going on. The truth comes from the streets. So you can think about it as the duel between the traditional media and the web-based media. I won't spoil the ending lyrics which seal the deal.
Let's end on a high note. Pete Seeger was one of the fathers of the folk rock movement, though perhaps unintentionally. Here's a recording of him singing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome":
And finally, will.i.am made a lot of people stand up and notice Barack Obama's message of hope when he mashed up Obama's New Hampshire primary speech and celebrity voices in "Yes We Can." We've all seen this but it's worth another look to remind us what we're fighting for.
As Kos says, leave it all on the road! Listen in good health.