Wednesday, May 03, 2006

We Shall Overcome

Missing from the political/cultural landscape for too many years has been popular music that spoke righteously for the working man's plight, passionate music that challenges authority.

There are lots of reasons why -- there’s fashion, and then some reasons have to do with how concentrated the power has been in recent years, when it comes to media. Hey, when one company owns 1,200 radio stations it can ignore what suits its agenda and get away with it most of the time. Remembering how important music was in the 1960s -- in opening minds to new truths -- I’ve felt for a long time that a good sign of a fresh awareness of social causes would be when politically savvy songs sound good again, in spite of what's corporately correct.

Well, it’s happening.

Leading the way are two artists whose stature is such that what they do can’t be ignored. Clear Channel may be able to beat up on the Dixie Chicks, but if it goes after The Boss, that corporation is probably going to look bad, and its own bosses must know that. Plus, with satellite radio and the Internet, once again times are a-changin’.

From NPR (Click on the links below to read more, and to hear samples from both new CD’s.):

“On the new collection 'We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,' Bruce Springsteen honors the folk music tradition that has inspired many of his own compositions over the years. All the tracks on the new album are standards closely associated with folk icon Pete Seeger..."

“‘Living With War,’ the new album from Neil Young, features a 100-voice choir that backs the singer/songwriter's musings on President Bush, the conflict in Iraq and families on the home front. The ten-song collection includes songs with such titles as ‘Shock and Awe,’ ‘Looking for a Leader’ and ‘Let’s Impeach the President...’”

The next thing you know Woody Guthrie's music will make a comeback. Those old songs still have the kind of power that scares the hell out of the suits who depend entirely on focus groups to understand what's happening.
Photo from NPR

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