4 August 2006
An intriguing question from Steve G:
[S]ince artists always seem to lean to the left or to be at the very least completely anti-war does having a "right-wing" [scare quotes because he’s center-right at best on most things] or pro-war President make for better music? Or to put it a different way, do bands that are angry with the state of the country or world make better music?
Need examples? Pearl Jam fans are thrilled with their latest, which is pretty heavily political and anti-Bush. Same with Green Day. Within my range of music, Machine Head, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and now Stone Sour are all making good music while angry on some level with the President. And in the 80s, Metallica, Slayer, and countless pop musicians put together some great music while they were angry at ... well, the world, but particularly policies of the west embodied by Reagan and Thatcher.
And he has some ideas about how this particular dynamic might work:
I'm inclined to give the premise as a whole a qualified thumbs up, at least in the rock realm, for the simple reason that rather a lot of rock is predicated on the notion of rebellion against authority, against conformity, against [fill in name of unbearable cultural imperative] and GWB seems to arouse levels of outrage more than sufficient to support this sort of thing. And some of us, I think, simply produce more interesting work when we're pissed off. (Note that this specification says nothing about whether we're justified in being pissed off; ultimately, this requires a longer historical perspective than the immediacy of popular music can reasonably allow.)
The only fly in this particular ointment is the fact that the same qualities that can inspire superior tunage can also give rise to spectacularly horrid crap. I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to contemporary antiwar songs, but then I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to much of anything that gets released today; as current as I get is an occasional pass through Jack FM, which has been known to throw in an occasional 1990s track. But Vietnam was still going on when it became obvious that for every forthrightly-angry "Ohio" there was a passive-aggressive "Military Madness," and I would be surprised to hear that the divine-to-dreck ratio has changed much over the years.
The best anti-Vietnam song, for my money, wasn't a hit at all: Bob Seger's "2 + 2 = ?" was way too corrosive to get any airplay. (The worst, by coincidence, was also a Michigan product: Grand Funk's "People Let's Stop the War." It got played to death.)
The trick, of course, is to avoid thinking that something's good simply because you agree with it. I'm as much of a flag-waving jingoist as the next guy, but that damn Lee Greenwood song makes me want to hurl.Posted at 10:51 PM to Tongue and Groove
TrackBack: 9:15 AM, 10 August 2006
» Orchestra of shame? from Classical Values
Music is weird, and writing about it is always troublesome. That's because musical taste varies, as do the personalities of musicians. With classical music, we don't think too much about the personalities of particular musicians, because most of the co......[read more]