With all the attention that the conservative talking heads at places like FOX News have been paying the so-called “Liberal Hollywood Elite” in recent years…you know, the usual suspects like George Clooney, Sean Penn, Alex Baldwin and the like…the rock music world has got to be feeling just a little ignored lately.
Oh sure, you still get your occasional rock and roll blip on the right wing radar — an Eminem lyric here…A Janet Jackson nipple there. But it just isn’t the same anymore.
It’s hard to believe that not all that long ago, rock music was considered nothing less than the great demon scourge of American society itself. Those were the days when guys like Bob Dylan and John Lennon were routinely shadowed (and in Lennon’s case, harassed to the point of being kept out of the country for many years) by various government spooks.
These days even guys like the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, a guy whose albums we’re once routinely used by guys like the Reverend Pat Robertson to cite evidence of the impending fall of civilization itself, are considered respectable enough to show up at Republican functions.
Former “Cop Killer” Ice T is the star of one of those “Law and Order” shows on NBC now for crying out loud.
Of course it isn’t like today’s musicians are writing incendiary lyrics the likes of “Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers,” as the Jefferson Airplane once did on the album they originally wanted to call “Volunteers of Amerika”.
So the question is…how does your everyday commie pinko liberal rock star get some respect from guys like Hannity or O’Reilly these days?
The answer is simple, as Bill Clinton might say, “It’s Protest Music, stupid.”
The good news is protest music may be making a comeback. It’s something I first noticed back in 2004 when Bush was running for re-election against Kerry. Back then a bunch of good old liberal guys headed by Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., and the Dixie Chicks organized the “Vote For Change” tour in support of the Kerry campaign.
The thing is those shows were occurring at exactly the same time as a number of long standing annual benefit concerts…shows like Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid and Neil Young’s Bridge School benefit. It almost seemed like an old time sort of “liberal benefit circuit” with many of the same names among them, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, and Pearl Jam showing up sometimes at all of these liberal benefit shows criss crossing the country at the same time.
The latest albums by Springsteen and Neil Young are further indicators of an impending full scale revival of protest music. Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions is a somewhat reverent revival of protest music of the good old fashioned variety, while Neil Young’s Living With War is an all out, cranked to eleven sonic assault against the policies of our beloved President Bush.
So as a public service to our Republican defenders of all that is decent and righteous in American society, allow me to identify a few of your next targets. Gentlemen, get those bows and arrows ready.
Bruce Springsteen: “The Boss” has had a long standing policy of not speaking out directly on political issues, but rather of letting his music do the talking for him. Springsteen’s songs of working class struggle should never have been misunderstood by anyone who was really listening. But when Born In The USA was co-opted by the presidential campaigns of both Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale in 1984, it was clear that the message underlying the American flag images of that album’s cover art had been lost. By supporting John Kerry on the Vote For Change tour of 2004, Springsteen left no such room for ambiguity. His current release is an album of songs inspired by none other than original commie pinko folkie Pete Seeger. Hey I know conservative commentator George Will has a soft spot for “The Boss”, but this is war dammit.
Neil Young: Speaking of “war”, let’s talk about Neil Young’s Living With War shall we?
Where Bruce’s message, at least as far as the music is concerned, has been pretty consistent over the years, Neil has been a man of mixed messages. No doubt about it. Goofy as Neil can be though, I think that his heart has pretty much been always in the right place. You can’t really fault the guy who once wrote about the “tin soldiers and Nixon coming” of “Ohio” for also writing “Lets Roll” about the passengers who stood up to the terrorists on United Flight 93 on September 11. Neil’s upcoming Living With War is a sonic assault of protest music that blasts the Bush presidency with all of the subtlety of a flying mallet in songs like “Lets Impeach The President”.
And isn’t this guy Canadian anyway? Well, let that no good sumbitch eat backbacon then is what I say.
Pearl Jam: Since Eddie Vedder and the boys hail from Seattle, which last I read was the heroin, suicide, and serial killer capitol of the known liberal universe, it should be no problem hanging a baby killer tag or worse on them. PJ are relative newcomers to the bleeding heart brigade, but their pedigree is a strong one. Early in their career, they basically forfeited their right to be the biggest rock band on Earth by choosing instead to take on the price gouging monopoly of Ticketmaster. More recently they participated in the Vote For Change tour and even hooked up with that scum sucking liberal do-do head Michael Moore for an anti-Bush rally in Seattle. PJ’s own little anti-Bush ditty “Bushlicker” was pretty light weight stuff, but the newer “World Wide Suicide” shows the fire is back in their eyes. They also do a mean version of Dylan’s “Masters of War”. Did I mention that Pearl Jam is from Seattle?
John Fogerty: Fogerty, the guy behind all of those great Creedence Clearwater Revival hits of the sixties, you know, “Proud Mary”, “Green River”, and the like has only in recently begun playing those hits again. What a lot of people forget is that in between his great run of late sixties hit singles he was also writing some damn fine protest music like “Fortunate Son” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain”.
He showed up on the Vote For Change tour in 2004 to do a few songs with Springsteen and the E Street Band, including a fiery version of “Fortunate Son” and did an entire tour the next year with likewise noted pinko John Mellencamp. His most recent hit was an antiwar song called “Deja Vu All Over Again”, which is basically a rewrite of “Who’ll Stop the Rain”. Fogerty got into the habit of rewriting his old songs when he was battling against his former producer Saul Zaentz for the rights to those old songs from his back catalog. John, you need to break that habit.
Dave Matthews: Now here lies what may be the most sinister of all evil, liberal rock musicians.
“Dave,” as his ever adoring fans refer to him, may be the most diabolically deceptive liberal rock musician of them all. Why do I say deceptive? Well that is simply because his actual music is so dreadfully boring. And on the surface at least, it doesn’t seem to say much of anything. Dave is rather the king of the “jam band” circuit, his yearly summer concerts draw a cult following quite similar to that of those other notorious hippies, The Grateful Dead. His band actually veers far closer to the jazzy slickness of someone like Steely Dan than to the acid induced psychedelic jamming of the Dead…a simple fact notably lost on his ever rabid fanbase, who consistently make his annual tours among the highest grossing of the year. For the past couple of years Matthews, while not making political statements directly through his music, has quietly gotten involved with things with Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid shows and the notorious Vote For Change tour, which makes him one hundred percent suspect. Absolutely.
So there’s your basic top five targets for the next great Republican inquisition. I would also throw into the mix some secondary targets like Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and the Dixie Chicks. Oh, and lets not forget that bitch Barbra Streisand, it just doesn’t feel right not including her in the mix.
Gentlemen, start your engines. And sharpen your knives.