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Political Songs: The 2016 Election Selection

Political Songs: The 2016 Election Selection


Choose wisely.

Here is a list of political songs you need to listen to during the final two weeks leading up to the presidential election on November 8th.

As you may have figured out by now, one of the biggest issues of this election is racism. The first few political songs take us back to the mid sixties through the mid seventies. Yes our nation has made some progress since then, but these songs remind you about what was going on then and makes you wonder why it’s still going on now.

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Get over “Retromania” and Move Forward

Get over “Retromania” and Move Forward

As long as I am in this music posting mode., I might as well tell you about another article I recently read in The Atlantic.

First the setup: I bought the October 2011 issue of Mojo Magazine last week, and the CD compilation that came with it is titled Return to The Dark Side of the Moon, a reinvention of the original 1973 album by several groups covering the songs plus a few songs from Wish You Were Here.

I put the disc in my car and listened to it on the way to work and on the way home.  I’d probably listened to the Pink Floyd album at least a hundred times, so I know it note by note, word by word. I was, however, not familiar with any of the artists on the reinvention album, and I ended up liking a few of the covers. I especially liked The Pineapple Thief’s cover of “Money.”  But, I was much more interested in hearing another band performing “The Great Gig in the Sky,” because that track – with the wordless melody sung by Clare Torry –  tripped me out more than anything else on the record.  How could anyone cover that song?  The Last Hurrah!! gave it a go but it was kind of a letdown.  So when I got home I figured what the hell, I’ll just load up my Pink Floyd cd’s, listen to the original recordings, and chill while drinking a beer.

The new issue of The Atlantic had arrived in the mail that day and I came across an article by JamesParker titled, “Everything Old – Our obsession with music nostalgia is strangling pop.” I thought to myself: This is weird. Here I am, listening to an album recorded 38 years ago that sold over 45 million copies reading an article about our obsession with music nostalgia. I was thinking I should change out the cd’s before reading it because I am not one of those people that is stuck in some kind of time warp where the only music I listen to now is music I discovered while in high school and college. (I left the Floyd running.)

So I read through the article:

Has pop culture, uh, stopped? Why do the major musical developments of the past decade include Guitar Hero, reunion tours, hip karaoke, the rise of the tribute band, pop stars made entirely from bits of other pop stars, and Van Morrison re-performing Astral Weeks? Lady Gaga, bless her radical retro soul, is Cher after three weeks in Warhol’s Factory. Cee Lo is Motown with swearing. This month, even as Roger Waters breaks temporarily from his transglobal plod-through of Pink Floyd’s 32-year-old rock opera, The Wall, Roger Daltrey sallies forth with a production of The Who’s 42-year-old rock opera, Tommy. One salutes the unkillability of these gentlemen, one reveres their work, but, honestly.

Early in Retromania, Simon Reynolds’s recent compendious and slightly nauseating (in a good way) account of pop-cultural backward-looking, the author visits 315 Bowery—once the site of the punk club CBGB, now a John Varvatos clothing boutique. Reynolds is on the heritage trail: he’s already been to the British Music Experience in London…

The floating simultaneity and endless availability of all recorded music, the deadening sophistication of the average listener—these are not spurs to Art. “It’s glaringly obvious,” Reynolds writes (indisputably in my view), “that all the astounding, time-space rearranging developments in the dissemination, storing and accessing of audio data have not spawned a single new form of music.” The key word in there is data. Encoded, flattened, trimmed, compressed, and abused, music in the digital age is turning its back on us. It’s a fact, Jack: MP3s sound horrible. I suspect they are bad for your brain. Dionysus will not be treated as information.

We might of course be old farts, Reynolds and I, with old-fart ears and old-fart memories, freaked out by the world that is blossoming at our old-fart fingertips. It may be that to complain (as he does) of feeling “splayed and stuffed” when you go online is merely to say: Yes, I am middle-aged. But Retromania goes deeper. Burrowing backward in search of retro’s first cause, Reynolds traces the reactionary roots of punk rock—its claim to be rescuing rock and roll from the bloatations of the early ’70s.

He concludes with “the fix is in” as if it’s all been done, so what now?

Well I disagree.  The fix is not in.  There are so many new bands making really great music these days. I left the article thinking that Mr. Parker needs to stop thinking and writing about the past and start paying attention to bands that are making great music now.  He thinks that many new artists borrow from the past, but I say, who doesn’t?  So what?  It’s okay to take something from the past as long as you don’t just copy it, but move it forward.

So James Parker and Simon Reynolds, if you come across this site, may I suggest for your listening pleasure the following bands:

Capsula (my favorite band right now)

The Duke Spirit (my favorite band before I heard Capsula)

Grinderman (featuring my favorite singer and song writer, Nick Cave)

Sons and Daughters

First Communion After Party (a new discovery via Tulip Frenzy)

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter (recently discovered by James Buckley at Tulip Frenzy)

White Denim

The Pimps of Joytime (another new discovery)

Saul Williams

Wild Flag (familiar faces in a new band)

…just to name a few, and yeah they sometimes borrow from the past, but they are using what they borrow to make new and exciting music.

Listen to their music.  Move forward.

Friday Night Videos – Camper Van Beethoven, Throw Rag, Del, and Saul Williams

Friday Night Videos – Camper Van Beethoven, Throw Rag, Del, and Saul Williams

The Bush Administration’s theme song:


The Captain is Wack.  I think he keeps his underpants on through the whole video though.  Watch and find out.


A little hip-hop is good on Friday nights… Here’s Del the Funkee Homosapien, in HD!!!


For tonight’s encore video, you’ll have to go to YouTube to watch Saul Williams’ “List of Demands” because embedding this video is prohibited.

Bumbershoot 2008 Day One

Bumbershoot 2008 Day One

Neko Case started it off Saturday at the Mainstage.


The purity of her voice is unreal.

…  Something called Strange Fruit at the Fountain lawn.


Ian Moore and his really cool red guitar.


I had my nine-year-old son with me, so I had to leave Ian’s set early to go see this:


Skater dudes are way crazy.

Being the home of Jimi Hendrix, Bumbershoot always features an up-and-coming guitar virtuoso.  I just happened to be in the beer garden at the Mural Amphitheatre when Joe Bonamassa came on stage.  He did not dissapoint those who came to hear some wicked guitar solos.


The weather was much better than predicted.


While waiting to see Saul Williams, I noticed that many people were sporting feathers on their heads.   

I asked a guy what it was all about, and he said “I don’t know… I guess he wears feathers.”


That’s Saul’s kid in the lower left corner.  He was on the stage all night during the looking very excited to be there.  He hung out in back and, when Saul’s pants would start to slip down, he would yell “Hey Dad!” and yank up on the back of his pants to signal his dad to pull up his pants.

M. Ward, another guitar virtuoso – of the John Fahey mold, not Hendrix –   closed the day for me.

Bumbershoot – Seattle’s End of Summer Festival

Bumbershoot – Seattle’s End of Summer Festival

Those of us who live in Seattle would argue that summer ended three weeks ago.  The weather here as been pretty awful since the first week of August. 

But, it’s Labor Day weekend, and the sun is actually breaking through a low cloud cover.  It won’t be warm today, but it probably won’t rain either, so I’m starting my three-day Bumbershoot run in a few minutes.

First up on the must-see list is former Seattleite Neko Case.  Later in the day I’ll be seeing Saul Williams (very excited about this show), Nada Surf, and M. Ward.

Photos later.

Niggy Tardust Lockdown

Niggy Tardust Lockdown

The latest Saul Williams album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, was released on CD last week.  I bought my copy at Easy Street Records in West Seattle, and I could not help but notice that of all the albums featured on the new release rack, it was the only one sealed in one of those anti-theft devices that the cashier has to unlock when you buy it.

If you browse through the rap and hip-hop section of the store, you’ll find that most of the CDs are locked up in those anti-theft devices.  Walk over to the rock, folk, pop section and you”l find that nary a one is locked up.

So Saul Williams may sing of a liberated Niggy Tardust…

NiggyTardust: Grippo King, philosopher, and artist. Downright to the marrow, he’s the arrow through the heartless. Sunlight in the afternoon, his shadow travels furthest. Woven through the heart of doom, he’s bursting through the surface. Hardly nervous, suffice to say, he understands his purpose: Threshold King of everything, a comical absurdist. Sometimes when he talks he sings, yet keeps his high notes wordless. Sing along when Niggy sings. Without you he’d be worthless, homeless, Earth-less. Venus Hottentot, up in the circus. Freak Show! Here him speak so properly, ‘cause every word is measured against meaning. Probably scheming to unlearn us. Don’t you call him by his name! White people call him ‘Curtis’.

When I say Niggy, you say nuthin. Niggy. Niggy.
When I say Niggy, you say nuthin. Niggy. “Nuthin”. Shut up.

… but Niggy is locked down in the record store.

You need to buy the album to free Niggy from his crystal cage.

Visit Saul Williams’ website to find out more.

And you can listen to him talk about his art and the making of the album in this YouTube video.