We need to talk about Politics (musically speaking)

Was there ever any other topic? Being of the British persuasion it’s been utterly impossible for me to escape the election and all the endless bombardment of conflicting claims. Mostly from my friends reposting articles that substantiate their particular beliefs and demanding me to challenge them. It comes from all the colours; Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and even that slightly off orange that the SNP thinks best sums up Scotland (I know, I need to cull a few friends). I dunno, maybe it’s sheer fatigue from the sniping and the lies and misinformation from everybody that has really made me give up caring this time round. As a firm believer in the flaw that is democracy; that was tough to admit. Still, it’s not good to always look back, just make your choice and deal with the consequences; we’ll have time enough to fix it (he says speaking from an artistic point of view whose funding has been utterly cannibalised) because we had the time to build it in the first place. Controversial statement that may be but I’m a builder, I make things and I stay pretty positive while doing it. Let the hate and negativity get to you and you’ll achieve nothing.

But this a music blog, I need not concern myself with the suits in power. Yet people understandably do so I thought today, on this pre-election scramble for votes, I’d add to the fire. I have the most conflicted relationship with Political music; I agree with it’s importance and function but I strongly hate being preached to by anybody. There’s something about an overly earnest solo singer telling me what to feel and what to believe that makes me angry. On the flip side (perversely) if that message is dressed up in decent musical setting (like the Manics or Clash) then I take notice and feel it’s power. It’s a serious unexplainable split at my core. But you know what, I can admit that because I am human. I think it boils down to the music being far more important to me than whatever message is laid over it because to me the music IS the message. It is a whole, an experience and something that (with proper application) can change the world. But to do that it needs to tap into something beyond an angry text. Anger is biased and uninspiring. Four chords on repeat with an activist spouting complaints has become artistically conservative; it has lost all power and cultural clout. Yet make the music as left field as the message then I’ll notice, I’ll listen and maybe believe. It shows commitment and passion and talent which are qualities I respect in all walks of life.

It was Billy Bragg what done it. Those are words I’ll have the papers write when, post revolution, the state takes me away. Bragg has become something of an unknown rival (in that he has no idea who I am) recently and has slowly spent the past year desperately trying to ruin my neutral opinion of him. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a little wary of men who misread lyrics to suit their agenda; in Bragg’s case with Kate Bush’s ‘Army Dreamers‘. It was in Q magazine many, many years ago and Bragg praised it for being pro-military even though it’s about a mother losing her young son because he was killed by the stupidity of battle (‘what a waste’). But hey, if we didn’t forgive people what would be the point of living? Then the Scottish Referendum came along and (disregarding his interesting yet flawed view) he kept on moaning and moaning about how musicians aren’t being political anymore. I snapped. Normally I don’t feel the need to share my opinion (as I like to discuss, not lecture) but I thought about what I liked in message music then went and made this.

Yeah, I know. A whole blog that doesn’t really mention much on it’s topic before ending with a flagrant piece of self promotion; it’s like every election article I’ve read rolled into one! Maybe I just have an axe to grind. Maybe I’ve been told by the political old guard that I have to play by the rules else I don’t matter. Maybe it’s just the hypocrisy of it all. We like political music as long as it fits our pre-existing leaning and will denounce anything different. Admit it. That’s not how you build a culture; culture and identity are built on an acceptance of difference. No media can tell you how to feel, you just have to work it out for yourself. Slowly. Painfully. It’s the point of living.

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