Wednesday 27th of May 2020

no new protest songs...

the finger

Gus's picture of a stencil by annon.

BB: Unfortunately, it never really was like that. Punk came out of riots in west London, where black youths were fighting police, and ostensibly it looked like vandalism, but now you can see that was the beginnings of our multicultural society where black youths said, "We belong here too." I recognise that your generation don't have the ideological politics as a backdrop that we had. Punk happened within 10 years of the summer of '68, which was the high point of political creativity and there were still, in the music industry then, people in positions of power who had been inspired by '68. Those people expected you, as a young musician, to have a political view. Now, I think the opposite is true – if you do, you get stick from the mainstream music press, or you're dismissed as earnest or whingeing.

JF: It's not in the mainstream media, but across towns it is amazing how there are small groups of people getting together and forming artistic collectives – they may not be being overtly political but I'd say by channelling their energy into community projects, that's a valid political statement. I tour to places where I get loads of people coming up to me and telling me the things they're part of. It doesn't create friction, but if you put your energy into something positive and community-based, that gathers an energy and wins people's hearts.

BB: But surely our job is to create friction, to confront people with the situation as we see it, and the time has never been more fractious than it is now. This isn't like the miners' strike, this is an international movement. I accept it's harder to get a grip on it because we live in a less ideological period, but surely as artists we're still capable of seeing who is holding us back. Occupy is a good example of that – they haven't come out with a set of answers, but just by being there they are posing important questions. Artists don't have to do any more than that. We should be asking questions that make people's ears prick up.

blowin’ in the void...

At the Protests, the Message Lacks a Melody

“Every successful movement has a soundtrack,” the songwriter Tom Morello told reporters after he had tried to fire up the crowd at the Occupy Wall Street Protest last week with a Woody Guthrie tune and one of his own labor songs.

Perhaps he is right, but the protesters in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan have yet to find an anthem. Nor is the rest of the country humming songs about hard times. So far, musicians living through the biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression have filled the airwaves with songs about dancing, not the worries of working people.

Where have all the protest songs gone?

To be sure, a handful of songwriters are tackling the issue. Ry Cooder, the blues and rock guitarist known for his exploration of roots music, lambastes bankers and conservatives in his latest album, “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down” (Nonesuch). Similarly, Mr. Morello, who began his career as the guitarist and chief ideologue for the band Rage Against the Machine, makes an unapologetic call for leftist revolution in his new album, “World Wide Rebel Songs” (New West Records).

On Tuesday Everlast, a Los Angeles songwriter who mixes rap and country blues, released an album, “Songs of the Ungrateful Living” (Martyr/EMI), with the song “I Get By,” a brooding meditation on the problems of the working-class people facing unemployment and foreclosures in today’s economy. “I voted for change, and it’s kind of strange/now it’s all I got in my pocket,” he sings on the track.

These recent releases add to a trickle of politically charged songs since the banking crisis precipitated the economic downturn. In 2009 Justin Sane of the punk band Anti-Flag wrote “The Economy Is Suffering, Let it Die,” a scathing indictment of the bank bailout. The following year the soul singer Aloe Blacc captured the heartbreak of unemployment in his single “I Need a Dollar.”

Yet none of these songs have been big hits, and none are likely to have the impact that a song like Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” had in the early 1960s.


Over the past year, political tracks have made a comeback of sorts. Lady Gaga's number one single "Born This Way" was a strident call for the acceptance of all sexualities: "No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track baby, I was born to survive." And PJ Harvey's Mercury Prize winning album Let England Shake offers up a brutal and unromantic take on the horrors of war. The fourth track on the album, "", contains these particularly brutal lyrics: "I've seen soldiers fall like lumps of meat/blown and shot out beyond belief/ Arms and legs were in the trees".

So will the popularity of PJ Harvey's latest album lead to a resurgence of protest songs? Or is it she a single (although loud) voice in the void?

script for propaganda...


Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood

Fans were shocked when Batman writer Frank Miller furiously attacked the Occupy movement. They shouldn't have been, says Rick Moody – he was just voicing Hollywood's unspoken values


A sturdy corollary emerges in the wake of the graphic artist Frank Miller's recent diatribe against the Occupy Wall That corollary, of which we should be reminded from time to time, is this: popular entertainment from Hollywood is – to greater or lesser extent – propaganda. And Miller has his part in that, thanks to films such as 300 and Sin City. movement ("A pack of louts, thieves, and rapists … Wake up, pond scum, America is at war against a ruthless enemy"), available for perusal at at

Perhaps you have had this thought before. Perhaps you have had it often. I can remember politics dawning on me while watching a Steven Seagal vehicle, Under Siege, in 1992. I was in my early 30s. The film was without redeeming merit – there's no other way to put it – and it was about a "ruthless enemy" and the reimposition of the American social order through violence and rugged individualism. Why had I paid hard-earned money for it? Good question. Before Under Siege, I had a tendency to think action films were funny. I had a sort of Brechtian relationship to their awfulness. And I was amused when films themselves recognised the level to which they stooped, as Under Siege assuredly did.

The moment of revelation could have come at any time. It could have come earlier, and it did among my more astute friends.

renaissance of the protest song?...

Few songs arrive accompanied by a statement of intent, but Ben Drew believes his latest single requires clarification. Its subject is the riots that erupted across England last summer. The news, says Drew, moved on so fast – from street fights in Tottenham to the battle for Tripoli – that they were never properly examined. And as the 28-year-old songwriter, singer, rapper, film-maker and actor better known as Plan B explains on his website: "The point being made in my song 'Ill Manors' is that society needs to take some responsibility for the cause of these riots. Why are there so many kids in this country that don't feel they have a future, or care about having a criminal record?"

Drew posits at least one theory himself: that underprivileged young people, living on urban estates, suspect society doesn't much care about them – and thus care little for society. They're casually branded "chavs: council housed and violent", a term no better in Drew's eyes than those used to discriminate along racial and gender lines. "If you're born into a family that has enough money to educate you properly," he goes on, "you are privileged. You're not better than anyone else. You're just lucky. Certain sectors of middle England, not all of them, but the ignorant ones, need to wake up and realise that... and stop ridiculing the poor and less fortunate. That is what this song is about."

the day the music died...

The lyrics for the new James Bond theme song take the cake for stupidity, but that will be no impediment to sales success, because it is sung by Adele. The world's most bankable white soul singer (plus a 77-piece orchestra) can give gravitas to such nonsense as ''Skyfall is where we start, a thousand miles and poles apart, where worlds collide and days are dark, you may have my number, you can take my name, but you'll never have my heart.''

Skyfall will soar to the top of the chart and replace the current No. 1, Gangnam Style, which was described by a Sydney newspaper recently as ''a brilliant satire'' on ''credit card-touting cashed-up bogans''.
Listen closely and you'll have trouble detecting the satire. Don't panic. You're not suffering from aphasia. Apart from the words ''sexy lady'', Gangnam Style is in Korean. Its author, who calls himself Psy, is a Seoul singer.

Read more:
see article and toon at top...

going deaf...

As we grow older, it becomes easy to pick a period of music you like and declare that everything since that particular golden age has been rubbish.

For some people, it’s the freaky sixties of Jimi Hendrix. For many more, it’s the rocking seventies of Led Zeppelin. For some people, it’s the synth pop of the eighties, while the rise of grunge in the nineties gave birth to a million flannel shirts. I’m not sure anyone considers the naughties the best ever period in music yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

nicked by zion...


NICK Cave sang ''I don't believe in an interventionist God'' on his 1997 ballad Into My Arms, but perhaps he might change his mind after Sydney-based religious group Hillsong knocked his latest album from the top of the ARIA charts.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' new album Push The Sky Away debuted at No.1 last week - the first in the band's 30-year career to do so - but on Sunday it was bumped by Zion, by the Christian rock band Hillsong United.

The Hillsong church has released more than 50 albums in the past 20 years, and Zion is the 13th to make the top 10.

Hillsong United formed at the youth ministry ''Powerhouse Youth,'' led by Hillsong Pastor Donna Crouch. The group now tours globally, performing at the various Hillsong church locations as well as mainstream concert venues.

A Hillsong spokesman said the church was honoured Zion had reached No.1.

Read more:

This is worrisome... Zion?... Hell!... See story at top...


vale tommy ....

Musical genius Tommy Tycho has died

Australian conductor and composor Tommy Tycho has died at the age of 84 at the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney. Tycho recorded the version of Advance Australia Fair that is played at all major events and football games and worked with perfomers like Olivia Newtown-John, Julie Anthony, and Hugh Jackman as well as Dave Brubeck, Shirley Bassey and Peter Allen. "I've lived a charmed life because I have nothing but wonderful and great experiences musically."

Tommy Tycho has been a well-know musical figure in this country, who had charm though rarely controversial or revolutionary... Tommy has supported the Australian entertainment industry with flair and panache... Vale young Tommy...

vale conway...

Conway Savage, the long-term pianist for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, has died age 58. Savage was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2017 and died on 2 September, the band confirmed in a statement

The statement continued: “A member of Bad Seeds for nearly 30 years, Conway was the anarchic thread that ran through the band’s live performances. He was much loved by everyone, band members and fans like. Irascible, funny, terrifying, sentimental, warm-hearted, gentle, acerbic, honest, genuine – he was all of these things and quite literally ‘had the gift of a golden voice’, high and sweet and drenched in soul.

“On a drunken night, at four in the morning, in a hotel bar in Cologne, Conway sat at the piano and sang Streets of Laredo to us, in his sweet, melancholy style and stopped the world for a moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Goodbye Conway, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.”


Read more:


Read from top.