There used to be a strong connection between popular music and its audience. This was especially true of protest music, but even regular pop music spoke to the interests and concerns of those listening to it. However, the more music has been taken out of the hands of individuals and become big business with a bottom line, the more it has been watered down. So overall, it has become more about style than content. Worse yet is the cult of celebrity that has sprung up surrounding the performers, making them objects of admiration for their fame and wealth instead of their talent or what they have to say.
While there are some exceptions, they seem to be fewer and fewer each year. So it was wonderful to hear the new CD from Nona Hendryx, Mutatis Mutandis, being released July 31, 2012 on Ani DiFranco's label, Righteous Babe Records. Not only do her lyrics express opinions on subjects most people are uncomfortable even talking about, musically the disc is exciting, passionate and raw. Even better is that when listening to Hendryx, you feel her connection to what she's singing about. Topics range from religion to politics, but she performs them in a way that anybody listening to the songs can relate to. They're about what we see on television, hear in the news and see on the streets around us. And, the songs are delivered by a voice whose experiences of these subjects are much the same as our own.
The opening song, "The Tea Party", isn't about American history, but the political party that has co-opted history in an attempt to lend itself credibility. Against a driving funk backdrop, Hendryx outlines all the ways these self-styled patriots are really the anti-thesis of what America stands for. "They say they want to take their country back, but don't they know it wasn't theirs and that's a fact". However, the song isn't just the usual liberal whining about those bad guys on the right. Instead, Hendryx spells out the reality behind The Tea Party's fine sounding rhetoric and exposes their real agenda. For a party who claims to be all about liberty and freedom, they sure do want to deny a lot of people the freedom and liberty to be who they are and make up their own minds about subjects.