Sunday, May 21, 2006

Too Easy!

Amanda's so much fun! She's got a post here about the 50 Top Conservative Rock Songs of All Time. Problem? They ignore their own twits, like Kid Rock or Godsmack or the Godfather of Rock's Right Wing, Ted Nugent, and try to cherry pick songs which are political, but generally critical of their perspective. Anyone who would include Joe Strummer on such a list (That's "Rock the Casbah" at #20) is genuinely a candidate for the short bus.

The NRO commentary is in italics, Amanda's commentary in Roman type.

1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who. The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naĞ¿ve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye… Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

The fact that they fall for the “small government” line and continue to elect Republicans who drive up deficits and curtail civil liberties demonstrates that conservatives are in fact easy to fool over and over and over again. Anyone who still trusts Bush after he lied to get us in the Iraq war is demonstrating a depth of gullibility previous unmeasurable by any instruments known to man.

But the choice of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” was inevitable. The critical mythology of neo-conservatives is that they were once idealistic leftists and totally cool and could so get laid and knew where to buy the best weed but the tawdry stupidity of liberal beliefs ran them off. The seedy reality is that the only known human being to actually make the legitimate case that this is his life story is P.J. O’Rourke. The rest of them were just Marxists who ran off to be right wingers when they realized the American left wasn’t ever going to embrace Stalinist authoritarianism. All attempts to claim the mantle of pseudo-cool rebellion must be viewed in this light.

13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders. Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh’s radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative’s dissatisfaction with rapid change: “I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride.”

Ironically, they have a pro-environmental destruction song a couple of notches up. I guess they voted for environmental destruction before they voted against it.

18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour. A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I’m the cult of personality.”

And for some reason, that makes it ideal for people who support a President who’s on a mission to consolidate as much power into the top levels of government as he can.

20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash. After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.

I was going to try very hard to be understanding that anyone putting this list together has to know that he’s engaging in a fool’s errand of cherry-picking certain lyrics and ignoring the rest of the band’s career or the very meaning of the word “context”, but picking a Clash song for a list of “conservative” rock songs is just beyond the pale.

But then, textual analysis is not really their strong suit, as the endlessly defensive paste-eaters who've invaded metacomments here and here so amply demonstrate. If artistic intention is all that matters to these fuckwits, they've got a lot of nerve trying to abscond with the work of people who would be disgusted by their political agenda.

I keep picturing Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot tapping herself on the side of the head. "See? Not very bright!" Only she showed exponentially more self awareness than those wingnuts who'd claim the socialist Joe Strummer as one of their own.


ntodd said...

Actually, Kid Rock clocks in at #49...

NYMary said...

Okay, busted. I didn't want to give NRO the hits.

Where does Prussian Blue clock in, smartass?

ntodd said...

Prussian Blue clocks in at #1 on the Neo Nazi Masturbatory Fantasy List.

Phila said...

How about "Bodies" by the Sex Pistols? It's got a very strong anti-abortion message.

four legs good said...

Sheesh- that's all I gotta say.

The Who as a conservative band? wtf???? the Clash?

Scott said...

"The Who as a conservative band? wtf???? the Clash?"

I guess conservatism is in the eye of the beholder.

It makes no sense to me either.

Thers said...

"Like a Virgin." It's all about how cool it is to feel like a virgin. That's cool -- it's cool to be chaste.

Gardner said...

Oh golly, I shouldn't get started here....

Of course "Won't Get Fooled Again" is a song about political naivete.

But that doesn't make it "conservative." Doesn't make it liberal either. It's a metacommentary on the unreliability of ideology and political rhetoric. Such metacommentary is essential, in my view, and it alone helps us rise above the groupthink of the merely ideological.

Foucault didn't believe in any metacommentary but his own, which was somehow magically excluded from the circulation of power he thought all other discourse to be. But he was wrong, and he must be wrong, if there is to be any possibility of truly ethical reflection or action.

The same list generated a pretty darn good analysis of Lynyrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama," and while in my view it was too harsh on Neil Young, it did accurately describe the genuine thoughtfulness of that song and its indictment of the condescension practiced by some folks who are otherwise tolerant (or at least call themselves so). There's a very thoughtful article in a recent New Yorker on the Democrats and 2006/2008 that jibes nicely with this analysis.

What's that? A neocon analysis of "Sweet Home Alabama" supported by some of the arguments in a New Yorker piece obviously sympathetic to the Democrats? Yes, and if we don't get more of that, we'll have an endless succession of new boss/same as old boss. IMHO!

Gardner said...

Follow up (I'm missing NYMary and am reduced to commenting on my own comments):

Pete T. has a very interesting take on just this topic on his blog: