Politics in Music

This week from the UPC, we are all asked the question:

What overtly political music inspires you?

Which is a toughy because music and politics tends to mix a lot. Sometimes it’s great and important (come on, who didn’t love We Are The World?) and sometimes it ends up being catastrophic (Brittney Spears providing political commentary? Even if it was just on MTV give me a break).

When you talk politics and music, probably the first band that comes to mind is Rage Against the Machine. Today they are over and the musicians now provide the musical score for Chris Cornell’s chick rock crooning in Audioslave. The lead singer of Rage? Who knows where the hell he went?

All the same, I think it’d be interesting to see what kind of music they would put out in today’s world of political turmoil.

Which also brings to mind Tupac. Casual listeners may not know that before Tupac hit fame with the whole Gangsta Rap image, he was very much a political rapper. Even still, one could detect that political awareness throughout most of his CD’s. Songs like his cautionary tale Brenda about a twelve year old girl having a baby.

And of course just as Green Day are polishing their first Grammy, you have to now take them into consideration. The fact that their latest album, American Idiot was significantly more political than anything they’ve done before probably played a role in them picking up the award. Hell, the title track alone is a pretty pointed jab at the current state of affairs in relation to the media and the political party in power.

Going back in time, who could forget, “WAR! unh, What is it good for?” And then you got the sixties where just about every song was either about politics or drugs.

Music typically takes on the devil’s advocate position when it comes to politics. If music is the soundtrack of our lives, then it would only seem to fit that artists would seek to match our own criticisms about the political world we live in. But that’s not always the case.

To be sure, and I really hate this, but I still get all weepy when someone sneaks up on me with a stirring play through of “Proud To Be An American”. As I am typing this right now, I’m getting that damn song stuck in my head from sheer memory alone.

But I can’t attribute to any one group or song the most politically inspiring title. It’s all relative. What stirs me is finding that right musical and lyrical statement at the right time. It’s listening to Jadakiss’ Why and hearing:

“Why did Bush knock down them towers?”
“Why they let the terminator win the election, Come on, pay attention”

Sometimes it’s heavy like that, and sometimes it’s the playful little jabs like Ludacris tossed towards Bill O’Reilly:

“Respected highly/Hi Mr. O’Reilly, hope all is well/kiss the plantiff and the wifey”

So now I redirect the question to you folks. What music gets your political goat?”


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