Thursday, May 25th, 2006

The South Berkeley Guide To The Conservative Guide To Rock

Who’s Right?

Hilarious article in today’s NY Times by Ben Sisario on a guy named John Miller’s attempt to list the Top 50 Conservative Rock songs of all time. Yes, The National Review has turned into Blender, and rockism has eaten itself.

Great quote by American Dave M. in there: “What happened was my side won the culture war…once you lose that battle, you lost the war and then a different kind of battle begins: the battle over meaning.”

Of course, the music geek/South Berkeley rad in me was drawn in like a fly to a shitpile. So here’s some of the list:

50. “Stand By Your Man,” by Tammy Wynette.
Because conservative editorial wouldn’t be conservative editorial without a gratuitous Hillary dis.

49. “Abortion,” by Kid Rock.
I guess “Yodelin’ In The Valley” didn’t qualify.

38. “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar.
Their comments: ‘A rocker’s objection to the nanny state.’
My comments: It’s a rocker’s objection to driving 55.

37. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” by The Band.
The National Review’s Southern strategy. What would Stephin Merritt say?

35. “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
An anti-war song, which can’t be very conservative unless you happen to be a four-star general these days, I guess. Wonder what they think of D. Boon’s version?

34. “Godzilla,” by Blue Oyster Cult.
Their comments: ‘A 1977 classic about a big green monster — and more: “History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men.”‘
My comments: Uh, like this list?

29. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Iron Maiden.
Their comments: ‘A heavy-metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?’
My comments: Yes, and let’s ban all those raps inspired by that multiculti fraud Toni Morrison.

25. “The Battle of Evermore,” by Led Zeppelin.
Their comments: ‘The lyrics are straight out of Robert Plant’s Middle Earth period — there are lines about “ring wraiths” and “magic runes” — but for a song released in 1971, it’s hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: “The tyrant’s face is red.”‘
My comments: But maybe he was drinking some of that Communist vodka.

24. “Der Kommissar,” by After the Fire.
Conservatives dance! But only to really old Germanic pop songs.

23. “Brick,” by Ben Folds Five.
You guys can have this.

20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash.
Give em enough rope!

18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour.
The only Black group on the list. What would Stephin Merritt say?

16. “Get Over It,” by The Eagles.
You can have their entire catalog. Well, except for the opening breakbeat on “Those Shoes”.

15. “I Fought the Law,” by The Crickets.
Their comments: “The original law-and-order classic”.
My comments: Joe Strummer rolls over again.

13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders.
Their comments: ‘Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh’s radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative’s dissatisfaction with rapid change: “I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride.”‘
My comments: Hmmm. This one’s interesting–because I’m sure the primary intended beneficiaries of trickle-down economics, low inflation, down-low protectionism, and sprawl–say, developers, bankers, corporate agriculture, music publishers, and the already stupendously rich would object to the lines that follow: “The farms of Ohio had been replaced by shopping malls/And Muzak filled the air/From Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls.” I hope Malcolm Foster is getting PAID off that mealy-mouthed junkie. One of only three songs on the list written or sung by a woman.

8. “Bodies,” by The Sex Pistols.
This should be the closing song at every conservative gala.

7. “Revolution,” by The Beatles.
Their comments: ‘Communism isn’t even cool: “If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.”‘
My comments: Yup, and then after writing this, he took up with that longhair Yoko Ono and started singing about Angela Davis, John Sinclair, imagine no religion, and give peace a chance. Filthy Asians.

6. “Gloria,” by U2.
Their comments: ‘Just because a rock song is about faith doesn’t mean that it’s conservative. But what about a rock song that’s about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That’s beautifully reactionary: “Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate.”‘
My comments: It’s fun to see people use the word ‘reactionary’ in such a positive way.

5. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by The Beach Boys.
Their comments: ‘Pro-abstinence and pro-marriage: “Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do / We could be married / And then we’d be happy.”‘
My comments: I don’t hear the abstinence part, unless you think falsetto is inherently an anti-sexual technique. Truly, though, this song is so gay, it’s a pro-gay marriage anthem.

4. “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
See #37. Also, it was an anti-Neil “Anti-War or Pro-War, Depending On The Polls” Young song. These days, I’m anti-Neil Young. Jeff’s editorial wouldn’t be Jeff’s editorial if it weren’t for a gratuitous Neil Young dis.

3. “Sympathy for the Devil,” by The Rolling Stones.
Their comments: ‘Don’t be misled by the title; this song is “The Screwtape Letters” of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that “every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints.” What’s more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism…”‘
My comments: They could’ve admitted they chose this song for the triumphant line: “I shouted out who killed the Kennedys/When after all it was you and me.” But this argument is as big a stretch as making “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” an anti-Communist tune. It depends on the idea that the song might make you less sympathetic with the devil. Please. Most people I know who have heard this song–completely influenced by the Meters and New Orleans, and probably the best the Stones ever did–have fallen madly in love. That’s why conservatives lost the culture war, and why progressives are losing the political war now. Americans want the fuck so badly that the art of seduction is always underrated.

2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles.
I give on this one. A great song to listen to, like “Chi Chi Man” was several years ago. Then, oh shit, it means that?

1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who.
Their comments: “The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naive idealism once and for all…The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.
My comments: Disillusioned revolutionaries love very long boring introductions…and Nissan Maximas.

posted by @ 8:23 am | 11 Comments

11 Responses to “The South Berkeley Guide To The Conservative Guide To Rock”

  1. Joe Twist says:

    Great post, Jeff. The one that stood out to me was “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, because the song is clearly about two horny teenagers and how frustrated they are that they can’t have sex until they’re married. I mean, the first line is, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were grown up, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long.” The fact that the National Review considers this a ringing endorsement of conservative values tells you everything you need to know about them.

  2. John says:

    It’s a pity they don’t lay claim to the patriarchal strain of rock.

    Under My Thumb
    Down By the River
    Run For Your Life
    Baby Let’s Play House
    Hey Joe

    That at least would have credibility.

  3. The Humanity Critic says:

    Great commentary on their list, too funny.

  4. Jon Swift says:

    I’ve made my own list of 50 more conservative rock songs.

  5. Jeff says:

    That’s a much better list!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nothing is more conservative than forcing data to mean the opposite of what it says.

    Isn’t “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” with its triumphant violence and sneering coda, a rebuke of the counterculture movement’s failure to make lasting change, rather than anything remotely resembling conservativism? After all, the problem with the new boss is that he’s the same as the old boss…

  7. Nate P. says:

    Other people have pointed it out, and I just want to reiterate: “Godzilla”? Where the “folly of men” in question, as well-known to anyone who’s seen the bus-throwing, purposefully-grimacing original kaiju in action, is nuclear testing?

    And there’s plenty of R&B songs they could’ve used; the anti-drug classics alone, from Stevie’s “Too High” to James Brown’s “King Heroin,” are crucial — not to mention the sanctity-of-marriage anthem “Band of Gold” and some Aretha gospel for the Christian base. It’s just inexplicable that such an expertly-crafted list spanning pop history from the ’50s to the present wouldn’t have any… oh.

    And finally, you’d best believe that a list of the top 50 Liberal songs would have roughly 75% of the same bands listed; the Clash and Pistols notwithstanding even Skynyrd could make the cut for “Saturday Night Special”. (And hey, if we’re the “culture of death,” might as well rock out to “Don’t Fear the Reaper”.)

  8. juba says:

    “Yodelin in the Valley?”, Jeff? I was thinking “Genuine Article” woulda been more their speed. :):) ah well.

    thanks for postin that.

  9. M says:

    Heck, “Band of Gold” would fit because it’s about wedding-night erectile dysfunction (“I wait in the darkness of my lonely room/Filled with sadness, filled with gloom/Hoping soon, that you’ll walk back through that door/And love me like you tried before”), and guess who Viagra’s spokesman was? Bob Dole!

  10. bomani says:

    interestingly, i always thought townshend meant “won’t get fooled again” to sorta be his own “animal house.” just as interesting, you can damn near read orwell’s book by the time you get finished with that song.

    oh yeah, and i love both.

  11. Scott says:

    I have read a few opinions about this article, and it is odd how both sides are claiming art for their political ideals. I liken it to wrapping yourself in the flag and then behind the stars and stripes flipping off, no screwing the nation.

    By ‘both sides’ I mean the two major political party type.

    Most of these songs ring more true to the Libertarian point of view than either dem or repub.

    Leave me be, keep your laws off my body, etc.

    Neither party has ended the war on drugs (and medical freedom), the war on Iraq and it’s axis of eeevil, the failed wars on poverty, education, etc.. Both sides have been at the helm for the ever encroaching violation of human rights at home AND for the ever increasing size of the already bloated, fiscally irresponsible, largest polluting body
    on the planet.

    So the dems could ‘balance’ a budget better than the recent (r)’s That does not come close to defining the system they espouse as what TIG commentator igDana quoted ‘liberalism to mean – “[it] is a. . . political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value.”

    I hate to say it but the only ‘liberties’ the two party system recognize are the ones that are popular, the ones that keep them elected.

    Less than ten percent of the nations representatives in DC understand rights to mean more than what is popular and in the headlines this week.

    I just made up that figure, it is probable closer to two percent.

    And the nation just keeps singin along to that sad, sad tune.



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