Rock and Roll Reads

Let the Revolution Begin! Cue the Guitars, Turn the Amps to 11!

Rock and Roll has often been seen as part of a revolutionary political movement for better of for ill since the sixties (folk led the battle before that). From the MC5 to The Clash to Black Flag and R.E.M. to name just a few, there have always been bands that feel rock ‘n’ roll is the method that is most appropriate to inciting whatever revolution or issue they may be preaching about. Keith Richards firmly believes that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Communism in the former Soviet Union is as a direct result of blue jeans and rock ‘n roll. Despite the fact that rock and roll is often associated with this revolutionary fervor because it is the province of rebellious youth, other forms of music have perhaps articulated the need for revolution far better than rock ‘n roll, with the reggae works of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh being prime examples. At the very least, “political” rock ‘n’ roll often inspires thought and debate and that is certainly a healthy thing since ultimately rock and roll is about freedom as much as it is about anything else and the more freedom the better in my perhaps naïve world view. Political rock and roll done right is great since the first thing it requires is a good song. The message in the music can perhaps be thought provoking but even if you couldn’t care less about the message, the song should still be able to pop your rock and roll cork. Political rock and roll done poorly often dates badly, especially if the issue has been dead and buried or the message so mangles the other good points of the song (like melody perhaps?) that the average listener just gives up and skips to the next track. Should we care what some rich rock star thinks about third world debt or the destruction of the rainforest (to use just two convenient examples)? No we shouldn’t, but if the issue is articulated well enough that we start to investigate it and form an opinion on or own that may or may not agree with said rock star than that is in fact a “good thing” and I have no problems with that. The reason why I am writing about this whole issue (again) is because I came across a fascinating little web site that you should check out. Sounds Celebrating Resistance is a cool site that, although currently inactive, features a really interesting archives section on “political music” that is truly well written and thought provoking. Granted you might not want to slap on some of the music discussed for your next frat party but the diversity of music it covers is absolutely astounding. If you were ever interested in the messages of rock ‘n’ roll (non-satanic of course), this might interest you. If you have something to say about this whole issue, contact the editor to see if he can get something more current up that might be able to contribute to. After all, it’s still all about rock and roll, isn’t it?