I contributed a few blurbs to Spin‘s October feature “Strange Bedfellows,” which detailed the odd nexus where rock music and politics convene. One entry was about the first copyright-snubbing cut-up artist Dickie Goodman and his 1973 assemblage “Soul President Number One.” In it, the first “soul” president is elected, quotes Barry White and the Temptations, and appoints Superfly to head of the FBI. Here’s Dickie’s skewed take on the 1980 presidential campaign:
Who would have thought, back in March, that it would seem plausible to take down the right wing through mockery rather than righteous indignation? Andrew WK, of course. He took an exchange from The McLaughlin Group in which loudmouthed conservative talk-show-host John McLaughlin speculated on the possibility of John McCain’s accidental death (while misquoting Carl Sandburg and predicting that “the next man on the moon will be Chinese”) and turned it into an anthemic demonstration of how anything sounds true when it’s yelled loudly enough.
I know what you were thinking on the night of Nov. 4: What will this definitive Obama victory mean for the state of modern country music? Thank goodness pop critic David Browne is on the case, and presenting his findings in The New Republic.
It’s a little strange blogging about music while the rest of the country is a little focused on something else entirely, but the two worlds do cross over here and there as lawmaking gets in the way of our right to rock. One news item I received yesterday only reinforced why I’m walking away from the computer screen later today and voting for Barack Obama. I’ve mentioned the Seattle-via-Northern California act rock act The Myriad on this site before, and their full-length With Arrows, With Poise has hung on as one of my favorites this year. Although the band won an MTV2-sponsored contest for unsigned artists last year, their record hasn’t really taken off. But the bad news that hit yesterday dwarfs any sort of sales disappointment.
Everyone, apparently, is nervous about today’s election, and some people may experience just a feeling of impotence, a worry that the election is out of your control. But is it really? Haven’t we all thought that, if the right song came on at the right time, it could change the world? Here, then, is another guide to figuring out how today’s results will go. This doesn’t require any complex analysis of the timing of states being called–just an iTunes library set to random and three simple steps. Click play, and let’s begin!
Whatever you think of the man, it’s fair to say that John McCain has not been able to catch a break in this election. I’m not talking about the self-inflicted wounds, but about all the things over which he genuinely had no control, like the economy tanking, a hurricane hitting New Orleans on the first day of the Republican convention, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki agreeing with Obama’s pullout plan. The campaign has been a sort of running joke of failure for McCain, and one of the best was how musicians kept objecting to his campaigns’ use of particular songs. Heart, Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters, Survivor, John Mellencamp, and half of Van Halen were among the musicians who objected, and the campaign has largely given in to their terroristy demands. This would seem to be another strategic (tactical?) blunder, but the results of a study done by my partner Rachel Arnold and me suggests, rather, that politicians aren’t just uninformed about music–they don’t care about music. And as long as that’s true, these sort of musical gaffes are going to continue.
Always-classy W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless has finally announced his endorsement for president. His extensive–extensive–analysis of the many issues in this election manages to bring in Hitler, Marx, and Muhammad Ali. We present it, unedited and without comment, after the jump.
Inexplicable symbol-with-legs Samuel Wurzelbacher–known to the news media as “Joe The Plumber,” even though his name isn’t Joe–has decided to go all Hollywood, presumably because he isn’t licensed to perform plumbing operations in his home city and probably never will be after all the antics he’s engaged in since being thrust into the national spotlight. He’s signed with a Nashville-based PR firm to “create new media opportunities,” and one of the ideas knocking around their office is–wait for it–Joe maybe signing with a major label’s Nashville arm. Even though he can’t really write songs. America: Land of opportunity, especially if you have a “strong political point of view”!
There are two weeks left to go in the Presidential campaign, and that means one thing: More time for musicians to get annoyed when a politician whose views don’t jibe with theirs to get annoyed about what they see as “misuse” of their songs! In anticipation of this happening at least three more times before Nov. 4, we asked our official house counsel, John P. Strohm, for his legally considered opinion on the subject. After the jump, he talks about the nitty-gritty of song licenses, and whether Dave Grohl should have even bothered coming out of retirement to complain about John McCain’s use of the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero.”