Could somebody please record a great, new protest song? I took a Magical Mystery Tour of the old CD collection last night--browsing some of the politically-charged classics. Every previous "tough time" in the Rock Era has had songs that capture the mood of the people and have given hope for the future. So where are the voices of this time?
The Sixties and early Seventies were fueled by the opposition to the Vietnam War (take your pick: John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joan Baez), the fight for equal rights for African-Americans (Marvin Gaye, James Brown, George Clinton) and Baby Boomers' desires to break free of the boundaries established by their more conservative parents. The malaise of the late Seventies bred the anger and dissatisfaction of the Punk and Post-Punk Revolution (Sex Pistols, The Clash, The MC5, Elvis Costello). The mid-Eighties featured the new social conciousness voiced by acts like Bruce Springsteen, U2 and REM. The late-Eighties saw the rise of Rap artists voicing the struggle of the Black community (Public Enemy, NWA) and in the early-Nineties my Generation X rejected the suburban, commercialized world of our parents with the Grunge explosion (Nirvana, Pearl Jam).
But I don't seem to be hearing any voices of dissatisfaction or protest over the way things are going now. Yes, the Dixie Chicks made comments during a concert--but did they record any songs that directly said "End These Wars"? Did the backlash from the overly-conservative Country audience scare away everyone else from taking a stand?
And where are the voices of Black America? Unemployment above 20-percent, half your members failing to graduate from high school--I'd think someone might have something to say about that. The aforementioned Public Enemy and NWA rapped about those very same problems almost 25-years ago--urging the community to rise up and take action to improve their lot in life. But then the Hip-Hop movement rolled in--and it became far more lucrative to sing about getting drunk, getting high and getting lai--um, getting a lot of "lady friends".
I certainly hope that having a Democrat in the White House--and an African-American President to boot--isn't curtailing political dissonance in the arts. If you aren't happy--and the guy in charge isn't getting it done for you--then he is fair game for criticism--regardless of his ideology. I'd recommend budding young artists start rehearsing The Beatles' classic "Taxman". If five percent appears too small...be thankful I don't take it all! 'Cause I'm the Taxman...and you're working for no one but me.