Listen to the words!Posted: August 23, 2012
Jim DeRogatis posts a great article on the meaning of music and its bleed over into politics. He describes the Pussy Riot event and provides lyrics to the song that offended Russian authorities. (Also see the post No Pasaran! for a photo of the Pussy Riot three.)
And he reviews the Paul Ryan claim that he’s a fan of Rage Against the Machine. http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-08/what-words-mean-101817 …
Tom Morello has already castigated Ryan for claiming to be a fan of RATM. He’s quoted in the DeRogatis article and you can find his Rolling Stone op-ed here. http://bit.ly/StCVza
Also Spin reports that Dee Snider of Twisted Sister blasts Ryan for not listening. And for using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” as a campaign theme song. http://bit.ly/Nm5AUs (Thanks to @tmorello for the tweet.)
Music and politics. What a grand combination!
Bruce Springsteen and other artists have long histories of misunderstood songs. The best-known perpetrator of not listening to the words was George Will, who attended a Springsteen concert during the Born in the USA tour in 1984. Will came away thinking that Springsteen was singing a fine patriotic anthem when he performed the title track. (“Born down in a dead man’s town. The first kick I took was when I hit the ground….”) Hmmm. Just listen to the words.
The first track on the 2012 Wrecking Ball album suffered similar misunderstanding. Many listeners and even fans perceived “We Take Care of Our Own” as a statement of what we do, rather than a lament for what we fail to do.
Bob Dylan gets the last word here. During the Rolling Thunder tour in the 1970s, he wore white-face mime-type makeup. One night an audience member shouted “Why are you wearing makeup?” And Dylan answered “So you’ll hear my words, not look at my face.” (As told by violinist Scarlet Rivera in 2011 film Bob Dylan Revealed.)