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Old 09-05-2002, 06:19 PM   #1
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DISCUSSION: Patriotic rock songs?

Throughout its brief history, rock and roll has been quite limited in its scope: to this day, the vast majority of rock/pop songs fall into only a handful of categories: love, angst, and dancing. However, the boundaries of rock are occasionally expanded. The era of the Vietnam War led to protest songs; and bands like Pink Floyd, U2, and Rage Against the Machine have continued the tradition of sticking it to "The Man." U2 itself helped introduce Christian beliefs and values into a music that had been mostly ambivalent (and occasionally antagonistic) to Christianity, a precedent that has been continued, in their own way, by bands like P.O.D. Of course, both protest songs and meditations on Jehovah are still the exception and not the rule; but they are allowable exceptions. Should the same now be said for songs of patriotism?

Consider: rock and roll originated in the post-war 50's and became dominant in the Vietnam-era 60's. As a musical form, it has never had to react to a Pearl Harbor or a World War. Now it has, in the form of the September 11th attacks and the ensuing war on terror. How should it now react? Should it still unilaterally protest this war as it did Vietnam and El Salvador, or is it okay for rock stars to rally around the America, its flag, and its efforts to defeat those who threaten it?

A few artists - notably a few country singers and classic rockers - have answered this question with a resounding, "yes," and there have been two reactions. The first is well represented by a writer for the UK's Daily Telegraph, Neil McCormick:

Quote:
Whatever happened to protest music? In times of conflict, musicians can usually be counted on to offer some opposition to the rhetoric of war.

Pop culture is almost instinctively pacifist, rallying around the flag of universal love and, certainly at its edgier lyrical extremes, deeply suspicious of the role of political leaders. Yet, as the American president leads his country inexorably towards war with Iraq in the face of enormous international disquiet, pop seems to be looking the other way.
On the other side of the political spectrum - and the other side of the Atlantic - we have Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online:

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Bruce or Toby? That is the question. Is rueful lament a better answer to 9/11 than robust anger? The media elite have unquestionably opted for Bruce Springsteen's sad-song meditation on last September's tragedy. Not without reason, since Springsteen's The Rising brings the spirit and wit of "the Boss" at his best to bear upon the unbearable. As for me, I'll take country star Toby Keith with his angry vow to kick al Qaeda butt; his unashamed love for his country; his grateful respect for the men and women who risk their lives to defend us; and his thumb-in-the-eye to the fools who look down on all this. Although we are much farther from recognizing it than we ought to be, it is Toby, not Bruce, who sits nobler in the mind.
Not surprisingly, I believe that rock and roll can (and, in this case, should) support the U.S. government's efforts to fight terrorism. There's nothing to suggest that patriotism cannot be part of the language of rock and roll. The typically shallow music has already allowed politically conscious messages (albeit mostly songs of protest). And the typically rebellious, self-centered music has room enough for occasional submission to God - as evidenced in U2's album, October. If rock can protest war, why can't it support it? If rock can embrace God, why not country?

Beyond that, I disagree with McCormick's statement that "pop culture is almost instinctively pacifist." I know of very few protest songs written during World War II (Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" notwithstanding; even this song was used patriotically); I know of none that became popularly used to protest American efforts in Europe and the Pacific. Further, the popular culture, strictly defined as the culture that is embraced by the population at large, often embraced the idea of a just and necessary war. During WWII, movie studios made films to support war bonds and enlistment; the American Civil War saw the birth of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

(Read the above link for an interesting digression into that "indispensable fight song.")

I think that there's room enough in the genre for rock stars to openly and defiantly support the war on terror. What do you guys think? Is rock and roll a big enough tent for patriotism, or is the idea a contradiction of ideas?

Bubba
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Old 09-05-2002, 06:56 PM   #2
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WAR can't be good

Rock'N'Roll and Politics can't be together , that's simple as that . Bruce Springsteen is a BIG man to me , i like how he deal with all this " Burn Ben Laden Stuff " on his latest cd . With music and lyrics full of love and soul support for americans and people all over the world , connecting the worlds . Great Job . Boss .
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Old 09-05-2002, 07:04 PM   #3
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Re: WAR can't be good

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Originally posted by pinkfloyd
With music and lyrics full of love and soul support for americans and people all over the world , connecting the worlds .
Love and support to heal pain and move on is patriotic. Perhaps more so than fostering violence and butt-kicking.
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Old 09-05-2002, 07:11 PM   #4
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Re: Re: WAR can't be good

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Originally posted by martha


Love and support to heal pain and move on is patriotic. Perhaps more so than fostering violence and butt-kicking.
Yes
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Old 09-05-2002, 09:46 PM   #5
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Certainly, rock and roll can be used to comment on politics. Rock music and rock stars have been opposed to certain acts: Vietnam, South African apartheid ("Sun City"). They have also shown support of certain acts: civil rights legislation, abortion rights (Eddie Vedder scrawling a pro-choice message on his arm during MTV Unplugged).

Why is military action any different?

At any rate, I believe patriotism is defined as love for country. It's hard to see how either support for military action or an attempt to heal people's pain are inherently equally patriotic, or that one is inherently more patriotic than the other. One could support a war because you love your country, or because you own stock for military industires. One could show compassion for others because doing so benefits your country, or because you simply care for the individual.

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Old 09-05-2002, 09:48 PM   #6
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doesn't this thread belong in fym?
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Old 09-05-2002, 09:53 PM   #7
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No, I don't think so. It's basic question is, "Should rock music be expansive enough to include pro-war sentiments?" Since the focus is on the music rather than the politics, I believe it belongs in a forum devoted to music.

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Old 09-05-2002, 10:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba
Since the focus is on the music rather than the politics, I believe it belongs in a forum devoted to music.
That's hilarious!

The 'music' is just a cover up.. this thread is spewing politics.

Nice sig..
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Old 09-05-2002, 10:15 PM   #9
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Actually, it is, to me, not an easy question to answer. Though I suspect the answer is yes, I admit that certain musical genres forbid certain sentiments:

- Gospel music cannot be derisive of God.

- Blues cannot have joyous optimism.

- Opera can probably not revolve around, say, a mundane trip to the post office.

Rock may have its own restrictions, including the forbidding of songs supporting military action. Consider:

Those songs that have revolved around "fighting" for something (Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right to Party," Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It") are rather trivial, no offense intended.

Those songs that could make, in hindsight, great war songs are either orignally camp (Queen's "We Are the Champions") or completely unrelated (AC/DC's "Back in Black").

And those rock songs that have been explicitly written as a pro-war post-9/11 statement (Paul McCartney's "Freedom" specifically) haven't actually been that good.

Basically, it's difficult to imagine a rock and roll song that compares to "The Battle Hymn" - or even the film soundtracks to Patton and The Patriot.

But on the other hand...

I bet religious rock songs seemed fairly inconceivable before U2's "Gloria."

Bubba
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Old 09-05-2002, 10:18 PM   #10
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There are some interesting points that you have made Bubba, you know I did a subject at uni that was all about this kind of stuff it was called 'Rocking the world: The politics of popular music" and in this subject we looked at how music from the days of Tin Pan Alley (20s-40s) right up until now has and had been used as a political instrument and I guess music can be anything you want it to be- there is no set framework on what the content of a song should be, but then again subjectivity always plays such a huge part too as sometimes if you really want to 'read' something into something, then if you look hard enough you just might be able to do so, however I think to answer your question on whether music can be pro war (rather the war against terrorism and therefore patriotic) I think music can be this, however you dont really hear much of it as generally the music that is considered confronting and political (when you look back throughout history) is generally going against the status quo or the mainstream and in the begining rock and roll was originally consdered the 'devil's music' so I guess to have something that is going in accordance with the mainstream, well is it rock and roll?, and is it still consdered confronting even though it is in accordance with what is considered mainstream?- I dont know, but hey if you hear a song that is pro the war against terrorism you will see this as patriotic (thats if this is where your prefereance lies), however please keep in my mind that someone who maybe does not have the same opinion will view the same song as being wrong and proposing a very different view of things, so I guess the one thing to remember is subjectivity, it plays a huge part in ones evaluation and approval of certain texts such a music
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Old 09-05-2002, 10:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sicy


That's hilarious!

The 'music' is just a cover up.. this thread is spewing politics.

Nice sig..
I respectfully disagree: one's individual politics need not influence how one answers the question I posed. I could just as easily asked, "Does the sexism Eminem espouse have a place in rock music?" But - between the two recent articles I quoted and a previous discussion on this forum - my topic seemed more timely.

And I ran the signature by Elvis before I started using it: he had no objections. If it allows me to continue enjoying lengthy debates AND keeps others from getting upset and contacting the mods and admins, GREAT: win-win for all involved.

Bubba
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Old 09-05-2002, 10:23 PM   #12
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Good point, Oz: I SHOULD have titled this thread "Pro-war rock songs."

Sorry about that.

(Honestly, I think "Pride" could be considered a patriotic rock song, particularly for those of us who find Martin Luther King to be a patriot, one who joined the ranks of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln as one who struggled for liberty.)

Bubba
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Old 09-05-2002, 10:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Screaming Flower
doesn't this thread belong in fym?
the only reason it's not is because he can't post there
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Old 09-05-2002, 11:04 PM   #14
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a few things...

do i think theres room in rock for pro war rock songs?

ofcourse there is "room." i wouldnt listen to it, and why would anyone else want to? would that make you feel good about listening to songs of anger directed at saving your fatherland and crushing all who appose it? the way you throw america and God together, everytime you post, (im not gonna lie and im not gonna hide how i feel) pisses me right off. God gives NOT ONE SHIT about stupid boundaries mere humans have layed out to divide each other.

why is this even a question? are you so possessed with war that this is all you think about? why arent you in the army or something?

the war on terrorism is a rediculous term. for one, the united states of america have inflicted far more "terror" on innocent people in afghanistan than everything that happened on 9/11.

how many people died in ny, pa, and washington? 2-300 people, correct?

how many died in afghanistan as a result of allied bombing? 5000-6000...correct?

how many have died in iraq due to sanctions that OBVIOUSLY arent helping, cause if they WERE, then the us wouldnt have to worry about saddam gathering weapons of mass destruction and the need to remove him, then would they?!

ALLLLLL this leads to one thing: WHYYYYY SHOULD there even be pro-war songs at all?! who on earth would want to listen to a battle cry for vengeance?

if your such a good christian do you not believe that you should act as Christ would?

im sorry, i have just watched another war movie, and i simply cannot hack the thought of people wishing to create more chaos in an already chaotic world.

and one last thing...

who gave ANY country the right to decide who CAN and CANNOT bear weapons of mass destruction? who gave ANY country the right to decide which leader is capable of ruling a different land of people?
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Old 09-05-2002, 11:09 PM   #15
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There goes this thread.
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