Friday, July 02, 2004

Where are the young voices in political debate?

Music and politics again. From Charlotte Observer article on today's youth and where they are regarding political debate by MARK KEMP:

"When a twisted knot of grungy guitars erupts over the end credits of Michael Moore's patriotic agit-prop doc 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' the song -- Neil Young's 'Keep on Rockin' in the Free World' -- casts a deeply sad shadow over a country I dearly love: the United States of America.

'There's a lot of people saying we'd be better off dead,' Young sings in a quaver that always sounds as if he's on the verge of an anxiety attack. 'Don't feel like Satan but I am to them.'

Ain't that America?

That Moore had to use a Neil Young song rather than music from a younger act says a lot about the state of political rock and pop. This nation is involved in a war that's at least as polarizing as Vietnam, and yet relatively few popular young rock and rap artists are speaking out in song.

More rockers and rappers spoke out during comparatively peaceful times -- Public Enemy and U2 in the '80s, Rage Against the Machine in the '90s. That might be because 9-11 made left-leaning artists feel uneasy about speaking out against our country's foreign policy. When the generally non-political Dixie Chicks questioned the president's thinking on the Iraq war, the trio was roundly criticized. Even Pearl Jam, a more overtly political act, got slammed by some of its fans. On the other hand, country singer Toby Keith practically applauded the murder of women and children in Iraq, and many Americans seemed OK with it.

It's time we applaud political music-making from the left as well as the right. Speaking out in favor or against the policies of one's beloved country is among the most patriotic stands an artist can make. Maybe Moore and Young will be examples for younger patriots who love America enough to express whatever feelings they have about this war."

More on music and politics.


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