This Blog is dedicated to achieving a deeper understanding of the relationship between music and politics. I am Rebel Rikkit one third of the worldwide acclaimed Trust The Wizards Podcast and I regularly broadcast mildly amusing musings to the to the world. However this blog is a chance to step back and dig a little deeper into what makes a good political song or to look sideways to consider the political significance of events around pop, rock, folk, soul etc. etc.
To make judgments about the quality of musicians political prowess the following criteria will be used (sometimes):
Did the music mobilize the masses to march on the monument? Did the groove galvanize the government to grant a great gesture (you may have noticed the over use of words beginning with G here)? Did the ballad make believers throw boulders at Back Benchers who balking at the breaking consensus battled bravely to (well you get the idea). Remember some songs with the greatest impact don’t even purport to be political songs Rollo Romig makes a good argument for Martha and the Vandellas “Dancing In The Street” being the song that if not inspired the Detriot Riots of 1968 it was their adopted soundtrack.
Its one thing to shout “No Government!” to a room full of like minded individuals
however quite another to say the un sayable in a room full of doubting or hostile faces.
That takes some profiteroles and that sort of courage stemming from a belief in an idea makes people sit up and take notice (well it does me in any case). However we must always remember that Victor Jura wrote his last song whilst being beaten to death by the Chilian military so lets keep some perspective here.
Pop stars suffer from this in spades Elivis Costello quipped on John Lennon “Was it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions” Possessions”. But who has the right to have a voice uncritically accepted by millions? Those who have led a life of self sacrifice in service of those in need? Those who have enjoyed material success from humble beginnings? Those who have worked for years on the bottom rung of society for little reward? Or is it people who can hold a tune and who 50 million twitter followers? people can have valid ideas and deserve to be listened to from any of these camps but authenticity comes down to whether they are consistent, rational and believable. Hell even Bono might make sense at some point (in the future).
Its one thing to alight upon a simple single issue and sing about that like saving the whale for example.
However its quite another to position your music at the heart of a all embracing theory of human history .
Why is that important you say? Well I don’t know about you but when I see anyone expressing an opinion on a subject I always wonder if their whole philosophy stands up. They may sound impressive on Animal Welfare for example but do they have a darker secret in their world view that you would be uncomfortable with like this guy.
This is an “x factor” criteria. After many years of sitting in judgement on what makes great music I have concluded that neither I nor anyone else really has the answer. It could be the strangest thing that makes a piece of music special, it could be very personal, a snippet of a lyric that speaks to you a sound that makes you feel good, maybe you heard something at the same time as you met a strangers eye and you both smiled at each other and felt the world a better place. Either way whether it be the tune, the lyrics, the sound, the ideas or anything else it may raise the piece the greatness.
Tone of the blog
What is/are politics? Well how about this definition? Politics is the communication that takes places between all of humanity to make decisions regarding humanities direction. If we take this definition it’s pretty important that we take it seriously and don’t get distracted. The most irritating thing about politics in my opinion is the inability of many people to conduct a political conversation for more that a few minutes without getting angry or getting personal or simply giving up for lack of interest. Yet if we look at the definition again all we are doing is throwing ideas around to build our ideal world. Who’s not interested in that project? Surely that’s an interesting discussion to have and we might even have fun somewhere in that discussion. So no po-faced hectoring or lecturing ideas are here to be enjoyed so passion yes but hopefully with a lightness of touch.
Bias in the blog
There is nothing more tedious than balanced respectful discussion if you passionately believe in an idea express it in a natural and colourful way! I have a point of view that I will not shy away from but demand that ideas that I support are challenged the same as all others because you know what that’s how we make good decisions. I am not tied to any political party and my perspective might best be described as Liberal Humanist. I think I could be described as being of the Left however I am not sure that left and right wing labels mean much these days as the political parties have merged and become less ideological and a consensus has formed around free market capitalism. Either way I am open minded and want to have the discussion on the future of the world so I like you, should make sure we learn from the past but don’t allow it to cloud our thinking of the future.
The Politics Of Sound Separating Protest Music from Posturing Muzak