Sunday, May 09, 2004

Protest Music Hard To Find

From MSNBC on the state of protest songs, "The age of oblivion: Despite volatile times, protest music hard to find on airwaves" by James Sullivan:

    "On her new album, "Trampin'," the rock poet Patti Smith leads her veteran band through a squalling diatribe against the war in Iraq. The devastated Iraqi capital, she laments on "Radio Baghdad," was once the cradle of civilization, the world center of scholarship.

    "We created the zero, and we mean nothing to you!" Smith thunders, putting herself in the historic shoes of her own country's latest mortal enemy.

    You won't hear this song on commercial radio anytime soon, and not simply because it's a 12-minute noise mantra. War in Iraq and other policies of the current presidential administration are effectively off-limits on the popular airwaves.

    It's perhaps not surprising that one of the top songs in America right now is called "I Don't Wanna Know." Despite mounting evidence that the war is dividing the nation, our pop music ¯ at least on the surface ¯ seems oblivious. We're clearly living in a much different social climate than the era that made No. 1 songs of Edwin Starr's "War" and Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction."

    In the triangle of pop-music consumption ¯ artist, medium, audience ¯ who is to blame for this utter lack of topicality?"

The article goes on to question whether this situation is due to the audience's apathy, corporate radio playlists, or the artists themselves. Sullivan attempts to exonerate artists for the situation by citing the music of the Beastie Boys, Bad Religion, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Sum 41 and New Found Glory, among others attempting to make relevant music.

More on the state of today's music and protest music.


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