Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shut up and sing!

No, I'm not stealing this title from Laura Ingraham's book,... and no, this is not a political posting (... at least no as far as elections are concerned) this is more about the way politics weaves itself to all facets of life (thanks to Quaker Agitator for the thought provocation). So forgive me as I segueway from full metal jacket politics onto a kinder, gentler version of it...

Why does Music affect us the way it does. To some (like my 5-year old) its nothing more a beat to shake the booty. To many, a way to unwind from something and escape the what-ever's of the day, a bona fide reception/expression of the social condition, a foil to play air-guitar as the Irish spring does its thing.... Most everybody loves it. you can feel its effect deeper than the cerebral cortex. Look at Beethoven, deaf yet able to discern over 8 octaves of the frequency spectrum by touch alone!

So what happens when you love a song,... this thing really rocks!... You've learned the words by the fourth playing and you are ready to baptize so and so as your favorite all time singer when suddenly,..... it happens. You begin to listen to the words, you begin to read his or hers political leanings... and just like that! Purgatory. You have a CD burn-in, you tear down your velvet coated posters, and have an anti-virus alert on your MP3 player alerting you of such an Artist's proximity...... What the hell happened?... You loved the music!

In 1981 I was a plebe sailor on my first cruise to the Pacific. It was January 7th, Reagan had just throttled Jimmy C. to the point that Carter conceded by the time the eastern States' polls closed. So here I was anchored off Pearl Harbor listening to Armed forces Radio.... Springsteen with the E-Street band, live in concert. Hawaiian sunset, single life, on my way to the Pacific rim Islands, and Springsteen was about to come in to the topside noodle via my RCA monophonic ear piece,... Heaven on Earth.

Let me stop for a minute. I worshiped the man. I ate Asbury Park for breakfast daily!. I knew all the words to the "Born To Run" album... (the fact that I had no idea what the words MEANT is another story). He was my boy. He was from Jersey, I lived in Jersey for years and my family still resides near the turnpike somewhere.

So back to the ship. Bruce goes off ranting about... "I don't know what happened last night in the elections but it sure scares me...." and he just launches into the coolest and rawest version of "war" I have ever heard. Just pulverized it. The crowd was going ape***t.... So why was I standing there comatosed like a teen who just found out his only condom on prom night had a hole in it? The musician that for so many years was my call to arms to the revolutionary ways of youth was now against what I was developing to be. I was a Reagan Republican to the bone marrow. Bruce just told me that my Commander-In-Chief was a war-monger who should be loathed and feared. I was crushed. I lost all musical innocence on that pier and hated him for it. Within the next 10 minutes all his albums (remember those?) were making like condemned frisbees out from the port bow of the ship,... my musical Hero's music was now sitting at the bottom of the bay just a few thousand yards from the USS Arizona Memorial.

I take pains now not to know anything about the Artists whose music I love. I don't want to know anything, ANYTHING, other than the way the song makes me feel, the way the bridge trasnposes up a half a key, what intervals the harmonies in the second stanza are atonal... I give token notice to the lyrics for fear of being disappointed, for fear of having to duel with the dicotomy of loving the song and hating the opinion. I wish I had never lost the blinders that made me hear music with the abandon of ignorance.

I have plenty of newspapers, TV shows, Magazines, Blogs, etc that keep reminding me of the Ills of Planeta Tierra without having it applied to music. As much as music has changed the world, I wish it had not changed mine...

So,... if I could send a message in a bottle to every artist who pens a song for someone to hear,... it would say "Please, don't talk to me, don't guide me or coax me..... just sing" ... Just sing...

46 comments:

Ellie said...

this is still politics related!! not as hard core though :)

I seem to find that all the artists I listen to are some form of liberal Democrats. Maybe that's why I listen to them... I think it's more that I like the music though. you're right about music being the point, not what the lyrics or political beliefs of the singer are. I've been playing the violin since I was extremely little and I believe fully that music is very important. Of course no one really cares what a violin player feels about politics and there are no lyrics unless you have a singer (which is extremely annoying...just my view though). Even so with an orchestra or a soloist you can appreciate the music without focus on the lyrics. Personally I hate listening to orchestra music, I find it very boring, but I love playing it. Go figure. My preference is usually some form of rock music where the lyrics are repeated over and over and there's not much to them. However there are some rock songs against Bush which, of course, are my favorite songs and would be top of the list on my ipod if I had enough money to waste on one. :)

betmo said...

nice post- and really nails home a good point. i haven't got a clue what the political leanings of most of the people i listen to- i just never cared i guess. entertainers entertain and music is supposed to entertain. the music is separate from the person and i think that we forget that. yes- there are those folks who are inextricably entwined with their music,etc- but for the most part i doubt the folks who 'sing' "baby got back" live by the lyrics. we use music to define who we are and what we stand for when we are young- and i think that is what you said when you lost your musical virginity to politics. i make it a point of only knowing what i need to know about other people's politics because of the current climate. the dixie chicks are brave for putting out their views on politics but most of their music is probably more about family life and interpersonal issues- much like everyone else. anyhoo- i love van morrison and i couldn't tell you one thing about him other than i think he is irish- but 'brand new day' was my anthem when i left a really crappy job to go to another. it was my anthem. now- it is simply a beautiful song. i like your non-political blogging. it feels so- pseudo-political :)

Sarah said...

Music is very powerful. Look at the music of the 1960's, for example. Music is just another form of language, if you think about it. It would be odd to separate music from outside influence, I think. Even classical music gives out a message - I played the flute for many years. Classical music can bring out more emotion in me than any other type of music. It's pretty odd!

To be honest, I try and avoid music that is mostly political. However, I don't like bland love songs either! I need a mix of things.

The only music I don't listen to is rap. No offence to anybody who may enjoy it, but I can't stand it! Give me jazz, R&B, and Motown!

Great post, btw!

Obob said...

Sometimes I like the political edge, PE's Fight the Power, but other times the "my life sucks" country works. My six year old's favorite song is "Ghost Riders in the Sky" by Marty Robbins not the Marshall Tucker Band. I can only imagine it has something to do with the struggle of free range ranchers verses the oppressive land owning capitalistic swine who owned the ranches. That just sounded amusing to type.
I hope you don't mind if I stop by, but I have strong opnions on music. I have a theory you should never listen to a bad song in the car. The idea of Mmm Bop or brittany spears being the last thing I hear before a semi crushes my car may be morbid, but could be tragic.
Back to your insightful post. Music is an art form and people will always express themselves as that manner, wheter religious or historical. And I agree on the Boss, it does seem to taint the music. That had the same effect on Johnny Cougar here in Indiana. Right now I have a hard time downloading any Neil Young because of current stances.
Thanks for letting me stop by

deb50 said...

To me, the wierdest thing about the song "Born in the USA" is that Reagon praised it as an anthem to America. My kids favored the "doing the butt" song.

Brooke said...

I don't usually like political music, and if I know the singer's politico, it also turns me off somewhat.

I just can't listen to Green Day, or the Dixie Chicks.

Those guys are the Michael Moore of music.

sappho said...

Great post, & I see your point. But songs aren't just guitar licks & drum solos...they tell stories (the good ones), and if the stories happen to be political in nature, more power to them.
I think as a poet or lyricist it is important to get across how the artist is feeling about something. And lets face it, in todays day & age, the politcal situation has people passionate & angered about what is going on in the world--so that is what we tend to see in songs. There are many, many people extremely upset at the way goverment is manning the ship, & I guess song is there way of expressing that.
But I also see your point. Sometimes you just want to hear a good beat, sans the political preachings.
Might I suggest some house or techno music...no or very little lyrics with a beat!
Thump,thump, boom,boom,! :)

pissed off patricia said...

I feel singers and song writers are entitled to their own opinions and are free to express them. It's our choice whether to hear them or not.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"I feel singers and song writers are entitled to their own opinions and are free to express them. It's our choice whether to hear them or not." POP

The Dixie Chicks are getting a great big dose of that medicine lately! LOL!

Dan Trabue said...

The problem is worse than you think! You remember Mary, mother of Jesus, Magnificat? The song she sang when she got pregnant?

"He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away."

Mary was a class warrior and probably a socialist! Dag!

Always On Watch said...

Truth-Pain,
I'm a Springsteen fan, but only with regard to his music (particularly his E Street Band period). I listed to the CD's and don't think about his politics.

Musicians are entitled to their political views, and I'm entitled to ignore those views. In fact, I've had that attitude from the first day I started buying albums. Yes, I remember LP's!

KEvron said...

are you familliar with the work of richard brinsley sheridan?

KEvron

quakerdave said...

If you like Springsteen, and don't pay attention to his "politics," you're not really paying attention. Try listening to "Youngstown" or "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Not political songs? Not hardly. That's like saying you can really be paying attention to Woody Guthrie w/o the politics.

What's in my CD rotation right now? Neil Young's "Living With War" AND that cool new Dixie Chicks CD. Never bought one before now. Whose music you choose to purchase is a political choice as well (it's ALL politics, after all).

And not a Toby Keith song in sight...

Truth-Pain said...

Jeez... you guys have been having way too much fun in my absence... ok here we go.

Ellie: You are correct, it is somewhat political, but i did qualify my post by saying it was a "kinder gentler" posting indirectly dealing with politics.
So you play violin?... gotta ask you, did you ever see the movie "the red violin"?... I think it is in my top 5 all time favorites,... i almost started taking lessons after the darn thing.
As to listening to anti Bush songs,.. I can see the joy of it if you are against him,.. or any administration for that matter. Im just emotionally emasculated on politics. I have strong opinions but Ive never allowed my emotions to get the better of me just becuase the wrong set of ass cheeks are sitting in the Oval, you know?

Truth-Pain said...

Betmo: I still have a headache from trying to read all the links on your Globalization part 2,.. :) (everybody please check THAT Post out, makes my postings look like im in 3rd grade)
As to "baby got back"... I hate to dissapoint you but i REALLY live by those lyrics :)
I think I have really begun to appreciate those artists that live in the realm of nebuli... you cant really tell what they are talking about and so the Theater of the mind takes over to whatever mood-bliss stirs you at the time.

Obob said...

I found "baby got back" to be very political. It brings to attention the assault on a woman's self-esteem by such evil hate mongers and excercise gurus as Jane Fonda. Could this also have been a subtle attack on her posing with NVA AA guns in Vietnam or capitalist empire through VHS? Could it be an attack on the dimunitive size of Japanese cars? No, it was about junk in the trunk and somedays those songs really matter.

Ellie said...

unfortunately I haven't seen the red violin. I meant to see it, but never got to it. I'll remember it next time i visit the library and when I have some time. You should take lessons!! it's really great.

i finally posted!! i know you're off the politics but you could sneak a look. I won't tell anyone :)

Truth-Pain said...

Sarah: Thanks for coming in! I agree 100%, I am an old school funk and R&B freak... cant say too much about rap although I appreciate the raw energy it provides as a creattive outlet.

OBOB:
I used to love John Mellencamp... er Cougar. He was my favorite back in the 80's. As to Neil?...yeah, his stuff is pretty tired to me. I mean I loved his stuff with Crazy Horse and CSN&Y but to hear a 75 minute-long rant on anything, much less politics is beyond my obcene sense of patience.

Deb50: I remember Reagan's quote on that,... and I remember as well how ticked Bruce was that Ronnie had the temerity to name his song in one of his speeches,... freedom of speech goes well as long as its in the name of what you like, I guess....

Brooke:
Yeah, the term "Dixie Chicked" is now common for puplic backlash at these very same topic. I think every artist has every right to sing and or compose on any theme they choose,... but to be angry that some of the public does not like it comes with that same freemdom of choice,...albeit from the consumer side of things.

Truth-Pain said...

Sappho! I actually write techno with new-age sort of lyrics... (yeah Im a wanna be composer..), my lyrics are so far out of tune with my beliefs on anything that one may wonder If it was the same person. I stay very vague, sort of like a cross between depeche mode and clannad,... you think you know what they are writing about.. but you really dont :)

Pisse-off patricia: Welcome to my site, your views and comments are a great addition to my little community of ranters :)
Again, I fully agree. People have every right to sing, and the recieving audience has a right to shut them off...

Daddio: I hear ya'... In a way I feel bad for the gals, I think initially they figured they were playing the London audience and had no idea it would be picked up by the media,... Ive always wondered whether or not they would have said something if they knew it would explode the way it did...

Dan Trabue:
That is a great quote,... i had to do a search as I am unfamiliar with this and found it fascinating... many thanks for a great comment and fodder for a future posting. Welcome to mi Casa.

Truth-Pain said...

AOW: I STILL own LP's.. i have a pair of Technics SL-1200 turn-tables that I care for better than my own life,... nothing sounds as analogue-phat as a needle on the grooves :)

Keron: ... I cant say I have but I promise to look into that. New stuff to ponder and research is always appreciated at Casa de TP.
Thanks againg, I will be visiting your site today after work.

Truth-Pain said...

QD: I guess I must have not been paying attention. But thats ok, my fiancee says I do that all the time when it comes to lyrics,... I tend to focus so much on the power of the music itself (and whether or not I can do the solos note for note). I've never (until recently) noticed the words.
You stumped me on the Guthrie reference (then again Ive never heard of Toby Keith either),... I've heard of him (she?) but don't think I could tell you a song of his. But I will bring in one in from MP3.com and see what style it is. I am open minded to hear something at least once.

As to Neil?... I dont mind oblique blast in general at the institutions of government... I loved "Rocking in the free world{" and all his CSN&Y material,... but I happen to live near Woodside (where he lives) and have read enough interviews to have an idea of what his last album shakes out to be. With all due respect to his right to right it,... I'll pass. I like my music as un-socially conscious as I can get it.

betmo said...

tp- toby keith is country and although he sings like a conservative- i saw an interview with him and i think he actually is more centered and possibly(gasp) left leaning. i don't dig country unless it is pre 1990's and i don't dig rap because it is usually too angry. that and i don't care to learn all those new words for sex and drugs. anyhoo- i guess i didn't realize that you were moving- good luck.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

The Dixie Chicks in London was nothing compared to their dismissal of the very people who applauded them to super-stardom.

KEvron said...

"....their dismissal of the very people who applauded them to super-stardom."

yeah, that was pretty good, too. i've got a bootleg version....

KEvron

KEvron said...

you know, the irony in the fact that reagan was himself an actor just occured to me....

KEvron

betmo said...

why does everyone have their knickers in a knot about the dixie chicks? big deal they said mean things about dubya. they have a right to freedom of speech at this point and if they choose to excercise that right- then so be it. they are the ones who will either sell tickets or not and sell cds or not. if you don't like them- don't buy them.

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

People don't have their "knickers in a knot". They're laughing at the bitter bimbos!

You don't tell your fans you don't want them or even need them.

People were ready to forgive them for their loose-lips in London. The girls were stupid to think they would be forgiven after telling their fans to take a hike. We have, you see!

Nothing political about their poor showing at the box-office. Just dumb-blondism!

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

I love it when liberals go to pains to laugh at me! It means I am effective!

Cheers, Kevronius...and T-P too!

Truth-Pain said...

Betmo:
Thanks for the pop lesson:)... the last semblance of pop culture I associate with is the rubicks (sp?)cube!
Daddio:
Not being too initiated in pop music (although I am a musician) the whole Dixie Chickens, or hens or whatever they are has me baffled somewhat. I get what happened and the AOR radio backlash that ensued,... but I can name a dozen other artists that have flamed-off greated spews of rhetoric w/o getting "dixie chicked". But I see the point that you piss on your audience at your own peril (dollar-wise at least)

Kvronius:
Why do I see the "smile" as you type your daily "blast-o-rama" to Daddio....
But fire away, I don't mind ducking the pellets as long as its in good clean fun.

Betmo:
I have to agree, God save me if i were to have been judged every time I've tore him a new one,... but I do have a few friends who are C&W music fans to the bone,... from what they tell me, this thing really hit home for him for some reason... I still dont get it...

Daddio:
Maybe you can enlighten me a bit on this... not being a fan of theirs (or too much pop music) for that matter,.. why did this piss-off Red-state America so much?... I get the fan-base point of view... but there has to be something other than the apparent politics,... no?

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

I don't think "red-state" America was really that pissed off until Marty made the idiotic statement she did in regards to her fans.

I think the first week's sales of their album goes a long way in proving that (though I think a lot of the sales were due to curiosity).

The reason they aren't selling tickets is that they have basically told their fan-base not to!

I defended the Dixie Chicks after Natalie made her Bush statement. I can hardly do that now that they have basically told me they don't want me as a fan.

I don't particularly want to be their fan anymore.

There's LOTS of good music out there to listen to--who needs 'em?


At first there was a political price to pay--now they're paying a price for being stupid!

KEvron said...

this is interesting:

More Americans Know That The Dixie Chicks Have a #1 Hit Than the Name of the US Secretary of Defense

KEvron

Obob said...

the dixie chicks were taught a polite lesson in consequence of your actions. It happens to adults all the time as well as children. The difference between the adult and the child is how you handle your spanking. They reverted in a childish manner instead of moving on, they have now lost a nice amount of money and respect from the ones who put them on the map. Thus endth the lesson.

Truth-Pain said...

Al Daddio:
Good enough answer for me... and by the way, I should have put "America" instead of "Red State" America.... From what I gather the pissed-off-ness had some blue states as well :)


Kevronius:
I can make that same statement on a millions things unfortunately. My daughter is better at naming all the Bratz doll's names than the Countries I've so labored to have her learned on our nightly "geography party". Who wants to find out where Belize is when you can look at Bling-Bling Bratz in all her glory?....
The American awareness of their political leaders (regardless of their preference) is the paragon of apathy.

Obob: I find it amusing that some have bought their CD as a show of support (and rightly so...) but the more I think about this,.. the more the main theme of my posting makes me think I am not alone in my thinking...

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

"...they have now lost a nice amount of money and respect from the ones who put them on the map. Thus endth the lesson."--Obob

Reckon the girls will ever apologize? (Not about their Bush statement--I wouldn't expect them to do that)

I believe if they did so, things would turn back around for them.

quakerdave said...

Woody Guthrie. 1930s folk singer. Rode the rails during the Depression. Wrote "This Land is Your Land." Ever hear that one?

Big influence on the early Dylan, who covered a number of his songs, including "Deportee."

You never heard of him???

KEvron said...

"things would turn back around for them."

turn back around from what?

KEvron

Truth-Pain said...

QD:
oh THAT Woodie Guthrie!! .. ok, so I am feigning knowledge.
Yes, I am familiar with the song but this is the first time I've put an Artist's name to the song... Thanks for the info.

As to the double question mark at the end of your Dylan thing.... do I note a tinge of dis-belief in me not knowing who this guy is?... or is that your effervescent personality coming through, Dave?

Yeah, I've heard of Dylan,... oddly enough by reading a ton of Hendrix interviews and how he felt the guy was really a poet, etc.
Personally (and no offense to anyone) his singing is something I don't want to hear coming out of my flat-spectrum Infinity speakers. Not because of his beliefs, words or whatever poetry he is known for. Its just that his voice is anoying as all hell,... but I see how you can appreciate his work.

Truth-Pain said...

Al Daddio:
I really dont think they should apologize. It would be dis-honest and it would be apparent to be a blatant intent to increase their bottom line, at least in my view.

Besides, check out the link provided by Kevronius.... look like are not crying poverty are they?

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

They make their bread and butter from toiuring as most bands do.

That article was from May 31st. Before the revelation that America isn't wanting to see them live.

Like I said before, their albums initial success was due to curiosity and a somewhat forgiving fan-base. Since the first couple of weeks the album;s sales have declined drastically.

It's not their initial loose-lipness that is responsible for their loss of popularity in the past two or three weeks--it's their unwavering display of stupidity since.

KEvron said...

"Since the first couple of weeks the album;s sales have declined drastically."

oh?

[....]

"With very little radio airplay, the Dixie Chicks have passed the 1 million mark in U.S. sales for their latest album, Taking the Long Way, just five weeks after its release, the Chicks’ publicists announced today in a press release.

That’s a very fast path to platinum, which usually happens only for country’s biggest acts, and even then those acts have lots of radio support."

KEvron

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Let me see...ummm...first week 500,000+ sales. The following THREE weeks 500,000 in sales combined. By my calculations that qualifies as a drastic decline in sales.

I do have my math right, don't I?

KEvron said...

yes, but your interpretation of that math is purposefully misleading.

let's put "a million units in five weeks" into proper perspective, shall we?

"That’s a very fast path to platinum, which usually happens only for country’s biggest acts...."

there's nothing dramatic about an expected (yes, an established act can expect a range of total sales; typically, cross-over appeal is the unexpected factor for increased sales) decrease in album sales in the weeks following it's release, especially when an album performs well in it's first week.

of course, when all is said and done, your inaccurate assessments have little effect on the reality of their sales numbers. why you insist on misleading the readers of this blog is beyond me....

KEvron

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Maybe I'm really a die-hard fan of the Chicks, Kev, taking advantage of what I've recently learned from the Anne Coulter "controversy"!

I'm trying to create negative sentiment towards the Dixie Chicks to help them sell tickets to their concerts. If I work hard enough and the anti-chicks sentiment catches on (heh, heh)their fan-base worries will be over! They'll have the #1 grossing tour in the country---heck--the WORLD!

They might even make more than they did on their last electrifying tour!

LOL!

KEvron said...

"Maybe I'm really a die-hard fan of the Chicks"

well, i'm not a fan of the act, and couldn't care any less about the success or failure of their album or tour. i just find your efforts to misrepresent their sales figures to be somewhat bemusing; not sure what you hope it will accomplish. have their comments hampered sales of albums and tickets? units seem to be moving well, but tickets sales are sluggish, mostly in red states. seeing as the reaction is not prompted by their music, i expect the backlash will be short-lived. just look at jane fonda's career.

"They'll have the #1 grossing tour in the country---heck--the WORLD!"

of course, anything less than that should be considered an utter failure, yes?

KEvron, who thinks natalie maines is an absolute honey! yummy!

D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

Gawd! I can't believe I agree with you, Kev! "KEvron, who thinks natalie maines is an absolute honey! yummy!"

LOL!

quakerdave said...

The "him" was "Woody," not Dylan.

And yes, Bob's songs always sound better when other folks sing them.