The Greatest Liberal Rock Songs (Revised & Updated, with Readers' Picks)
Perhaps, as R.J. Eskow argued (see yesterday’s post), this is unnecessary, since all rock music is by definition liberal. It is liberal because, according to him, it “raises blood pressure, stimulates adrenaline, [and] creates sexual stimulation and physical aggression.”
Of course, I disagree with Eskow. Nevertheless, even if we were to stipulate that all rock music is liberal, still, some is obviously more liberal than the rest. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of rock music, at least until recently, was surprisingly apolitical -- or at least the politics was implicit and ambiguous, such as in Bob Dylan’s best work (very early on he saw through the left and stopped writing the kind of tedious and didactic songs they enjoy, such as Masters of War).
It’s true that when there is an explicit political message in rock music, it is virtually always from the left. In fact, this is what makes the songs so unartful, ham-handed, and generally lame. It is what makes them so wince-worthy. As we have discussed before, there is a vast difference between art and didacticism, the latter being a form of pornography.
In no particular order, I’m just going to rely upon my memory to call up some of the greatest liberal songs of all time. The list will obviously be incomplete, and readers are welcome to add to it with suggestions of their own.
The first song that comes to mind is War, by Edwin Starr. Although it is now over 35 years old, it still expresses the universal leftist sentiment about the military and about the need to defend ourselves from evil. In fact, the king of moonbat rockers, Bruce Springsteen, has taken to singing it in concert. Its boneheaded lyric asks the famous question,
What is it good for?
The answer, of course, being absolutely nothing! (say it again, y’all!).
For the left, the problem is never the existence of evil. They scoff at that unsophisticated notion. Rather, it is the existence of people who fight it. For war itself “is an enemy to all mankind.” It “can't give life, it can only take it away!,” as every Jew who survived the Holocaust or every Kurd who escaped Saddam’s torture chambers knows.
They say we must fight to keep our freedom,
But Lord knows there's got to be a better way.
Sure there’s a better way. As the girl who spoke at the New School commencement put it last week, “We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet.... We can change the universe by being who we are.... it really is just that simple.” It seems to me that this approach has a long way to go before it can even be considered simplistic, let alone simple.
Even before Neil Young, there were America-bashing Canuckleheads making an extravagant living by attacking the country that makes their frivolous lives possible. American Woman, by the Guess Who, expresses sentiments that are still widely shared by our leftist friends to the north, who, in a recent poll, ranked the United States as the most dangerous country on earth:
American woman, said get away...
Don’t come hangin’ around my door
Don’t wanna see your face no more
I don’t need your war machines
I don’t need your ghetto scenes
Colored lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else’s eyes
Now woman, get away from me
American woman, mama let me be.
Of course, not all Canadians share the sentiments of their their pinheaded elites. I am told that normal Canadians who live outside the major cities, especially in the western provinces, are much more appreciative of the security and prosperity made possible by the United States. They know that the American “war machine” actually shoulders their share of the world’s defense, so their government can waste money on other things.
But leftist elites have always had trouble relating to the middle class. Secretly they have contempt for the middle class, whom they regard as clueless boobs for not being default leftists. They just can’t figure out why a middle class American would ever vote Republican, since Democrat elites know what is best for them. The song Pleasant Valley Sunday, written by Carol King, mockingly expressed the contempt that leftist superbians feel for suburban Americans who are not bitter activists and who simply want to enjoy their lives:
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care
See Mrs. Gray she's proud today because her roses are in bloom
Mr. Green he's so serene, he's got a TV in every room
Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land...
Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul...
Carol King is a wonderful songwriter, one of the greatest ever. But give me a break with the "creature comforts." I think she owns a village in Idaho.
Of course, a major theme of contemporary liberalism is gender identity confusion. For this reason, I have chosen I’m a Boy, by the Who, which expresses the anger and confusion of a child whose mother is obviously a doctrinaire feminist who believes that sexual differences are simply cultural constructs:
I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But my ma won't admit it
I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But if I say I am, I get it!
Remember “The Eve of Destruction,” by Barry McGuire? Liberals like to make fun of fringe religious groups that predict the end of the world, and rightfully so. But hysterical mainstream liberals have been predicting the end of the world since I was a little kid, whether it's alar in apples or nuclear power plants or giving toy guns to boys. In the 1980s it was global cooling. Liberal scientists were unanimous that the world was catastrophically cooling as a result of manmade influences. It was even on the cover of Time and Newsweek. Now they unanimously agree (except for the ones who don’t) that the world is catastrophically warming.
For the hysterical left, it’s always the Eve of Destruction, like with Al Gore's new movie, which is the feel-bad hit of the summer:
Al Gore’s mind, it is implodin’
Penguins dyin’, cities floatin’
If cars are so bad, how come he isn't strollin’?
He don’t believe in oil, but what's that SUV he's rollin'?
What is it with the left’s perennial fascination with authoritarian regimes, whether Castro, or Arafat, or the Sandinistas? In “Washington Bullets,” the Clash sang,
For the very first time ever,
When they had a revolution in Nicaragua,
There was no interference from America
Human rights in America
Yup, for the first time, human rights in America. For the left, it’s a topsy-turvy world. Because of their anger at America, it causes them to ally themselves with anyone who opposes America. For example, the other day, leftist heavyweight intellectual Noam Chomsky, who was also a champion of the totalitarian Sandinistas, argued that the policies of Hamas were “more conducive to a peaceful settlement than those of the United States or Israel”.
It’s like the criminals are the good guys and the police are the bad guys. That’s what Eric Burdon sang in “San Franciscan Nights”:
Cop's face is filled with hate
He's on a street called "Love"
When will they ever learn?
Cops. Selfish bastards. They’re nothing at all like the beautiful people of the left. As Joanie Mitchell put it in “Woodstock,”
We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Yes, that would be the same reality-based garden where we have nothing to fear from a single person on this planet. Even if he wants to blow up the garden.
I’ll admit it, when I was in high school and had a devastating crush on Suzie Campbell, who sat next to me in biology class, I didn’t really get “Love the One You’re With.” Sure, it sounds good on paper, but unless you’re a rock star with groupies at your feet, or a President with interns under your desk, how do you get the opposite person of the complementary gender to cooperate?
If you're down and confused
Yes, that would be me.
Concentration slips away
Exactly! How did he know?
Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit cryin' over good times you had
There's a girl, right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do
Right on, dude!
Turn your heartache right into joy
She's a girl, and you're a boy
So get it together, make it nice
You ain't gonna need, any more advice
Wait! Don’t go away! I think I do need some more advice!
If you can't be with the one you love,
Love the one you're with
Love the one you're with
Love the one you’re with
Stop taunting me!
Like I said, there are surprisingly few explicitly political rock songs, but there are a number of repeat offenders such as John Lennon, David Crosby and Graham Nash. Nash is another guy who doesn’t see evil as the problem. Rather, it’s the military. In Military Madness, he sang,
In an upstairs room in Blackpool
By the side of a northern sea
The army had my father
And my mother was having me
Military Madness was killing my country
Not nazi madness, totalitarian madness, anti-Semitic madness, Islamo-fascist madness. Just “military madness.” And as we already know from Edwin Starr, war itself is evil. It can’t give life, it can only take it away. Presumably, Nash's father was insane for fighting the nazis:
And after the wars are over
And the body count is finally filed
I hope that The Man discovers
What’s driving the people wild
Military madness is killing your country
Similarly, Donovan, in The Universal Soldier (written by Buffy Saint Marie), blamed the individual GI:
He's the one who gives his body
As a weapon of the war,
And without him all this killing can't go on.
He's the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame,
His orders come from far away no more,
They come from here and there and you and me,
And brothers can't you see,
This is not the way we put the end to war.
Such a terminally adolescent view of the world. Perhaps the Doors, in their epic, The End, touched on the reasons for this pervasive developmental arrest:
Father, yes son, I want to kill you.
Mother... I want to... f*** you!!!!!!
I think I can sum up liberalism with just a few more anthems. First, as John Lennon observed, All You Need is Love. Just don’t ask for details of how this would work in practice. For if you read dailykos or huffingtonpost or listen to Air America, you immediately realize that the Who were correct: I Can’t Explain. Why? Because, as Morris Albert crooned, liberalism is based upon Feelings, nothing more than feelings...
Still, what does it hurt to live in a parallel reality-based world? The number one liberal anthem, as always, is Imagine:
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing John's brownstone
I don’t know... I imagine other things...
Imagine no Islamists
It isn’t hard to do
No damn bin Laden
And no Zarqawi too
Imagine all the people
Living in the same century....
The readers speak:
"One Tin Soldier," from the movie Billy Jack
"Sky Pilot," by Eric Burdon
"Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag," by Country Joe and the Fish (Also, let's not forget the brilliant "Fish Cheer" at Woodstock)
"The Flower Children," by Marcia Strassman
"San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," by Scott McKenzie
"At Seventeen," by Janis Ian
"I Got You Babe," by recovered liberal Sonny & terminal case Cher
"When the Music's Over" and "Five to One," by the Doors
"Street Fighting Man," by the Strolling Bones
"Get Together," by the Youngbloods
"God Save the Queen (The Fascist Regime)," by the Sex Pistols
Rage Against the Machine, Their Entire Angry Corpus
"Little Boxes," I believe written by Malvina Reynolds
"American Skin--41 Shots," Bruce Springsteen (try getting past his security & see what happens)
"Woman Is The N-Word Of The World," by John Lennon (who would be the first to admit that he had some major issues with abusing women)
There were some obvious ones I purposely left off the list, such as:
"Give Peace a Chance," by John Lennon (who was, not coincidentally, giving heroin a chance when he wrote it)
"Almost Cut My Hair," by crackhead felon David Crosby (with CSNY)
"Long Time Gone," by felonious crackhead David Crosby (with CSN)