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Sunday Song Lyric:
John Miller presents his list of "the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time" in the June 5 issue of National Review. Admitting the list is somewhat arbitrary, John explained the criteria he used, in consultation with others, to produce the list:
What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We're biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don't hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, but we've made an effort to cast a wide net.
Topping off the list is "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who. Why is this a conservative song? "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," Miller explains. "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." Consider some of the song's lyrics:
There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
The full lyrics to the song are here.

UPDATE: A reader with a much better memory than mine notes that I blogged about WGFA during the Townsend-Moore dust up over whether the song could be used in Fahrenheit 9/11. Relevant to the debate in the comment thread is this comment from Pete Townsend:

WGFA is not an unconditionally anti-war song, or a song for or against revolution. It actually questions the heart of democracy: we vote heartily for leaders who we subsequently always seem to find wanting. (WGFA is a song sung by a fictional character from my 1971 script called LIFEHOUSE. The character is someone who is frightened by the slick way in which truth can be twisted by clever politicians and revolutionaries alike).

UPDATE: The full list of 50 is now on-line here.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Townshend on the Politics of WGFA:
  2. Sunday Song Lyric:
Cornellian (mail):
Topping off the list is "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who. Why is this a conservative song? "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," Miller explains.

I wonder if, by "disillusioned revolutionaries" he had in mind today Republicans and the 1994 election.
5.21.2006 11:15am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Umm, isn't "conservative rock song" an oxymoron. Rock, or at least good rock, should always be revolutionary, and no matter what you libertarians believe, a conservative revolution is also an oxymoron.

I'm sure Keith Moon is spinning in his grave to learn the music of the Who is considered "conservative".

Have you ever listened to the song. It is full of anarchic rage. Are you saying anarchy is a conservative movement? Is The Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" on the list because it obstensibly rails against monarchy and fascism?
5.21.2006 11:16am
Freder Frederson (mail):
This is like when the Reagan campaign, in almost comical irony, wanted to use Born in the USA as their theme song. Of course, Springsteen wouldn't allow it. But maybe he should have, since apparently no one in the campaign had bothered to listen to any of the lyrics other than the chorus.
5.21.2006 11:23am
Freder Frederson (mail):
Irony is really lost on conservatives, isn't it?
5.21.2006 11:24am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Freder --

There actually is a Sex Pistols song on the list, but it is "Bodies" rather than "God Save the Queen."

JHA
5.21.2006 11:55am
Dave!:
Oh. My. Word. The National Review must have found someone's old stash, because they are seriously smokin' something. I mean, "Won't Get Fooled Again" starts off with:

"We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song"
5.21.2006 12:02pm
John Lennon:
Rock, or at least good rock, should always be revolutionary

Hmm... how about "you say you want a revolution, well, you know, you can count me out"?

Maybe rock, or at least good rock, doesn't particularly follow simple little rules like that. Unless of course by "revolutionary" you just mean "willing to say interesting and provocative things," in which case there's no reason it couldn't be conservative.
5.21.2006 12:10pm
JosephSlater (mail):
"Skepticism of government" is an exclusively or mainly "conservative" value? So I guess "Alice's Restaurant" -- which portrays local police and army recruiters in a not-terribly-flattering light is "conservative," as are a whole host of 1960s songs criticizing various government officials and actions. And much of the late 1970s-early 1980s punk was quite anti-government, so if you want to count avowed anarchists like the Dead Kennedys as "conservative" go ahead (although you might want to look past their name and listen to some lyrics first).

Seriously, I'll give you "Tax Man" by the Beatles, "Material Girl" by Madonna, and a chunk of Ted Nugent's excecrable work. And no, Ann Althouse, Dylan isn't "right wing" because he rejected bad musical advice from (admittedly drippy) liberals at the start of his career.
5.21.2006 12:13pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
There actually is a Sex Pistols song on the list, but it is "Bodies" rather than "God Save the Queen.

Ah, yes the Sex Pistols were the ultimate conservative band. Dick Clark said John Lyndon (aka Johnny Rotten) without a doubt the worst person he ever interviewed. He peeed on the floor of his dressing room. Remember their other big hit besides "God Save the Queen" was "Anarchy in the UK". Please don't tell me that anything by the Clash is on the list. How about the Ramones? At least they had one legitimately conservative member (Johnny) who was really pissed off when he figured out that "The KKK Took My Baby Away" was directed at him and "Bonzo goes to Bitburg" was directed at Ronald Reagan.
5.21.2006 12:16pm
Average Joe (mail):
Good choice Jonathan (and by extension, John J. Miller)! Being more musical than literary, I remember first being drawn to the music of this song when I was in college. I admit that I needed to hear a couple of times before I realized that it was a consise, eloquent, rock-n-roll version of "Darkness at Noon". Needless to say, I was impressed and, reading the lyrics again today, I am still impressed.
5.21.2006 12:24pm
BT:
The New Beat's 1964 Smash, "I Like Bread and Butter" should be included for the singular purpose of it's castralto lead singer who wonderfully represents the current conservative movement in this country.
5.21.2006 12:27pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Can you provide a link to the list. I have an feeling that ridiculing the list is going to be quite fun. Is "I Love a Man in Uniform" by Gang of Four on it? Surely, that is one of the best pro-military rock songs of the early eighties.
5.21.2006 12:28pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Also Pet Shop Boys: "I have the brains, you have the brawn, let's make lots of money!" in Opportunities. PSB's Being Boring, too, a conservative re-examination of the gay rights movement. Andrew Sullivan is an enormous fan, of course.
5.21.2006 1:10pm
wm13:
Regarding Bruce Springsteen, most of his fans don't listen to his lyrics either. It used to be a common sight for people to wave American flags when he sang "Born in the U.S.A." Spy magazine (I think it was) suggested that Springsteen title his next album "America--I Hate It" in order to get through to his thick-headed fans.
5.21.2006 1:30pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
It used to be a common sight for people to wave American flags when he sang "Born in the U.S.A." Spy magazine (I think it was) suggested that Springsteen title his next album "America--I Hate It"

I think after "Born in the USA", and his short-lived marriage to that model/actress, Springsteen realized he had sold his soul for pop superstardom--eventhough the lyrics on "Born in the USA" stayed true to his message. His next studio album was "Tunnel of Love", stark and acoustic. And all those flag-waving, one album fans thankfully disappeared, leaving those of us who really listen to his lyrics and know what he is singing about.
5.21.2006 1:48pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
He peeed on the floor of his dressing room.

Oh, I forgot, Eugene would say, "not that there's anything wrong with that ; )"
5.21.2006 1:51pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
(link)John Lennon:
Hmm... how about "you say you want a revolution, well, you know, you can count me out"?

Maybe rock, or at least good rock, doesn't particularly follow simple little rules like that. Unless of course by "revolutionary" you just mean "willing to say interesting and provocative things," in which case there's no reason it couldn't be conservative


Now John, you know you whispered count me in on the slow version of that song.

How about Kill the Poor by the Dead Kennedys

Efficiency and progress is ours once more
Now that we have the neutron bomb
Its nice and quick and clean and gets things done
Away with excess enemy
But no less value to property
No sense in war but perfect sense at home

The sun beams down on a brand new day
No more welfare tax to pay
Unsightly slums gone up in flashing light
Jobless millions whisked away
At last we have more room to play
All systems go to kill the poor tonight

Gonna
Kill kill kill kill kill the poortonight

Behold the sparkle of champagne
The crime rates gone
Feel free again
O lifes a dream with you, miss lily white
Jane fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals its okay
So lets get dressed and dance away the night

While they
Kill kill kill kill kill the poortonight
5.21.2006 1:56pm
LittleJ (mail):
"Won't Get Fooled Again" seems more libertarian than conservative, even Orwellian (like Animal Farm), saying "don't trust those hypnotized by doctrine, new or old - do what you have to do to take care of your family". To call that "anarchic rage" is silly. And the first verse refers to those who are being fooled the first time. I know everyone's read the lyrics, but have you REALLY analyzed them?

Interpretation is in the mind of the beholder, but I could use the lyrics today it as a reaction to the excesses of the communist and islamic "revolutions", and as a caution to those who propose violent overthrow of the old system (and eliminating everyone who believed in it). I know this song is pre-Pol Pot, but I've got friends and family that were caught in the Khmer
Rouge hell, and I can't think of a better example of seeing this song lived out.
5.21.2006 1:57pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Political Science by Randy Newman is a good one the Neocons would like

No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them
5.21.2006 1:58pm
Andy (mail):
Freder,

Sorry I have to disagree on 'I love a man in uniform' being pro-military. Despite being in the military (and proud of it) in the late eighties, I loved that song, but pro-military? Only if you if you considered it satire of military stereotype, given the background of the band, I doubt it. Great song, though.
5.21.2006 2:00pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Last one that occured to me as I was about to leave the page "Bush was Right" by the Right Brothers. Link goes to a snippet of their video.
5.21.2006 2:01pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
"Won't Get Fooled Again" seems more libertarian than conservative

Well, if you want to take one song out a body of work that spanned over 25 years and call it "conservative" or "libertarian" and ignore the politics, lifestyle, and totality of the art of the authors, you are just being disingenious.

By that token, I could say Ronald Reagan was a raving communist because when he said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall", he obviously was inviting Gorbachev to expand the Soviet Empire to all of Western Europe. Context is everything.
5.21.2006 2:06pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Only if you if you considered it satire of military stereotype, given the background of the band, I doubt it. Great song, though.

I guess I do need to post a big warning I AM BEING SARCASTIC HERE. When I said "I Love A Man in A Uniform" was one of the great pro-military rock songs of the early eighties, I meant that it was one of the one of the great anti-military rock songs of the early eighties, but the boneheads of the National Review would probably miss the satire and irony and think it was pro-military.
5.21.2006 2:15pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Andy:

I think Freder was being sarcastic about "(I Love a Man) in a Uniform."

LittleJ:

Even if your reading of "Won't Get Fooled Again" is correct, it's hardly uniquely conservative to oppose the Khmer Rouge or Stalinism, or what came before them, or both.
5.21.2006 2:21pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Rush Limbaughs theme song should be in there, I heard the actual song on the radio once with all the left wing lyrics, its still a good tune though.
5.21.2006 2:22pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"My City was gone" about the suburbization of Ohio.
5.21.2006 2:25pm
James Fulford (mail):
Rush Limbaugh's theme song is the bass line from “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders.

Miller writes


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.”
5.21.2006 2:31pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative’s dissatisfaction with rapid change

Surbanization is actually the antithesis of central planning, not an example of it. Isn't the conservative and libertarian mantra that "sprawl is good, people should be able to live where they want and do whatever they want with their land. Central planning is a communist plot to stop people from having huge houses and drive 50 miles each way to work alone on congested highways in huge SUVs."
5.21.2006 2:39pm
Anonymous Jim:
I nominate YMCA by The Village People. What could be more conservative than promoting the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association (hey, or "In the Navy" by them).
5.21.2006 3:05pm
JosephSlater (mail):
And given suburban vs. urban voting patterns, one could say that anti-suburban is in fact liberal.

There was (and, I believe, still is) some neo-Nazi punk (Skrewdriver, e.g.). Will conservatives want to claim that stuff?
5.21.2006 3:06pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I know plenty of conservatives who like rock and rap, how many liberals like country? I know, I can't stand it either.
5.21.2006 3:17pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I nominate YMCA by The Village People. What could be more conservative than promoting the virtues of the Young Men's Christian Association (hey, or "In the Navy" by them).

Absolutely, and they display the archetypes of masculine manliness, a biker, an indian chief, a construction worker, a cowboy, a cop, and a sailor. What could be more representative of traditional values than that?
5.21.2006 3:21pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I know plenty of conservatives who like rock and rap, how many liberals like country? I know, I can't stand it either.

I like country. Once you get past some of the godawful stuff that is played on top 40 country radio, there is some really good, and subversive, stuff out there, especially if you define it loosely to include people like Steve Earle, Kelly Willis. And how about the Dixie Chicks?
5.21.2006 3:25pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I really want a link to these 50 songs. It appears to be subscription-only, however ...
5.21.2006 3:29pm
mistermark:
Thanks for alerting us to this article, Professor Adler. If there's anyone out there who knows how to rock, it's John Miller from the National Review.
5.21.2006 3:32pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
In my dopesmoking teen yrs I saw Ted Nugent do a cover of Black Sabbaths "War Pigs" that I never will forget, not sure if the lyrics expouse conservative values tho.
5.21.2006 3:38pm
Adam K:
Given the definition of "conservative" that National Review seems to have been following over the last few years, I'd think the list would be populated wholly by Toby Keith and Charlie Daniels.
5.21.2006 4:20pm
The guy with the hat:
sarcasm mode

There's always "Amerika" by Rammstein:
http://german.about.com/library/blmus_rammst04.htm
English translation here:
http://german.about.com/library/blmus_rammst04e.htm

end sarcasm mode
5.21.2006 4:32pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I'd think the list would be populated wholly by Toby Keith and Charlie Daniels.

Heck, even Charlie Daniels was liberal in his younger days. "Uneasy Rider" is one of the greatest songs of all times, hilarious and liberal.
5.21.2006 4:50pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Knock at the Door,' Phil Ochs.
5.21.2006 5:03pm
Mark71:
Rush - Anthem

Know your place in life is where you want to be
Don't let them tell you that you owe it all to me
Keep on looking forward...no use in looking 'round
Hold your head above the ground and they won't bring you down

Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
The wonders of the world, wonders of the world
Wonders of the world they wrought

Live for yourself...there's no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
Only cry out for more

Well, I know they've always told you
Selfishness was wrong
Yet it was for me, not you,
I came to write this song
5.21.2006 5:09pm
Pendulum (mail):
Bodies, man! "She was a girl from Birming-HAM! She just had an abor-TION!"

"Body, I'm not an animal!
Mummy, I'm not an abortion!"

Now I'm ultracurious to see what the other 48 songs are.
5.21.2006 5:12pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
"Rush - Anthem"

My favorite Rush song is "Subdivisions", which basically insults their entire fanbase--middle class surbanites. About the only other band that can get away with calling their fans a bunch of mindless idiots is Pink Floyd--isn't that the entire point of The Wall (well that and "I hate women and my mother in particular").
5.21.2006 5:18pm
steve k:
Listeners get to decide what the song means, not the creator. The audience got Springsteen's "Born In The USA" was pro-America, even if Bruce was too dense to figure the matter was our of his hands.

By the way, Mondale also wanted to use the song.
5.21.2006 5:31pm
Average Joe (mail):
Reading through these comments, I find quite a bit of thinly veiled (and some explict) distain for the magazine National Review, for example, referring to the people at National Review as "bondheads". In addition, these distainful remarks often seem to me to have a self-congratulatory tone to them. I find this situation ironic, given that the poster, Jonathan Adler, has not only written articles for National Review, he is also a Contributing Editor at National Review Online, as can be seen in his CV, which is easily accessible from this site. Therefore, I am led to wonder why someone would write comments to this post that not only start from the premise that anyone who reads National Review and takes it seriously is an idiot or immoral, but that such a belief in the inferiority of these people is a virtue that should be applauded. Note that the comments that surprise me are very different from the writting of someone at say, The New Republic, which often disagrees with National Review, but at the same time takes their arguments very seriously. I also wonder how many of these commenters realize that they are implicitly insulting the poster. I wonder how many of them care.
5.21.2006 5:37pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Listeners get to decide what the song means, not the creator. The audience got Springsteen's "Born In The USA" was pro-America, even if Bruce was too dense to figure the matter was our of his hands.

Could you please read the lyrics of Born in the U.S.A., which is about the alieanation and lack of opportunity that Vietnam Vets felt when they returned to the U.S. and please explain to me how that is pro-America? Not that I am calling it anti-American, I think it is a deeply patriotic song--but it is a song about pain, frustration and alienation, it is not a song that makes you proud to be an American. Anyone who thinks it is, is an idiot, plain and simple.
5.21.2006 5:37pm
go vols (mail):
Listeners get to decide what the song means, not the creator.

How very post-modern of you.
5.21.2006 5:43pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Jimmy Hendrix's version of the Star Spangled Banner had better be on that list if it has any credibility, although I think U-2s rendition was better.
5.21.2006 5:44pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Therefore, I am led to wonder why someone would write comments to this post that not only start from the premise that anyone who reads National Review and takes it seriously is an idiot or immoral, but that such a belief in the inferiority of these people is a virtue that should be applauded.

I called the author of this article at the National Review a bonehead. I never questioned his morality. And I was really only referring to his expertise in the area of rock criticism. I think it is perfectly legitimate to call anyone who thinks that "Won't Get Fooled Again" (or indeed anything by the Who) is a "conservative" song is a rock music bonehead. To include music by the Sex Pistols (!) in his list confirms his extreme boneheadedness. Anyone who thinks that "conservative" and "Sex Pistols" belong in the same article unless it is something along the lines of "The Sex Pistols are the antithesis of conservative" is a complete bonehead when it comes to music.

Now I don't know anything else about John Miller. He might be a brilliant political strategist and one of the great conservative minds of the twenty-first century. And I am sure he is a moral and decent man. But I know enough about music that I have the right to call him a bonehead when it comes to rock music criticism.
5.21.2006 5:49pm
John Herbison (mail):
Of course (many) self-styled conservatives are irony challenged. The current occupants of the White House seem to think that George Orwell's penultimate work was a how to manual rather than biting satire.

Big Bubba is listening.
5.21.2006 6:07pm
anonymous coward:
Can we try a top 10 of conservative hip-hop?
5.21.2006 6:13pm
Thief (mail) (www):
Some other good conservative/libertarian rock songs from my MP3 archives (at least the ones I think are):

Bachman Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care of Business
Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought The Law (And The Law Won)
The Byrds - Turn, Turn, Turn
Cracker - Get Off This
Dennis Leary - I'm an Asshole
Dave Matthews Band - Bartender
- Proudest Monkey
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
Eagles - Get Over It
Iced Earth - Declaration Day
Johnny Cash - When the Man Comes Around
- I Hung My Head
Kansas - Dust In The Wind
Kenny Rogers - The Gambler
Led Zeppelin - Dream On
Living Color - Cult of Personality
Pink Floyd - Another Brick in the Wall ("We Don't Need No Education")
Rush - The Trees
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - I Won't Back Down
5.21.2006 6:14pm
therut:
Well according to Fender Born in the USA in how bad the Vets got treated when they came home from Vietnam. Well pray tell me who in the Hell was treating them that way. Surely not CONSERVATIVES. The people who treated them bad was the radicals on campus. The same people today plus people like CODE PINK, CINDY SHEEAN etc. Give me a break. The song was about the middle and lower class who went to war and was berated by you know who when they came home. Kinda like the elite at Boston College treated McCain when he gave their graduation speech. Like a bunch of rich ,white,liberal spoiled brats who would never put on a uniform and defend this country cause they HATE it. Thanks to their Professors of HATE on campus. Good Grief. Why does everything in life have to be made political. Lefties make everything political cause to them that is the purpose of life itself.
5.21.2006 6:14pm
steve k:
Could you please read the lyrics of Born in the U.S.A., which is about the alieanation and lack of opportunity that Vietnam Vets felt when they returned to the U.S. and please explain to me how that is pro-America?

Well, Freder, without going into too much detail, people simply ignore the verse (few could even tell you what's in it) and concentrate on the rousing chorus. If a song is to live, it's because those who listen to it like it for whatever reason they choose to like it. Reagan understood the song better than Springsteen.

(Look at our National Anthem. We only sing the verse that ends with a question mark, but believe it's a ringing affirmation.)
5.21.2006 6:16pm
Reg (mail):
"Well, if you want to take one song out a body of work that spanned over 25 years and call it "conservative" or "libertarian" and ignore the politics, lifestyle, and totality of the art of the authors, you are just being disingenious."

I think you are being purposely obtuse. Why is Miller disingenuous? Miller's list is of conservative songs. It's not a list of songs that capture the conservative essence of the best rock bands. It's not a list of songs intended by their authors to be conservative. Its a list of songs a conservative can listen to and agree with the sentiments expressed.

I don't see why a song can't be taken out of the context of a band's history. Other than songs on some concept albums, a song usually doesn't have a context that must be understood to understand the song. Springsteen's problem was nobody listened to the words of Born in the USA other than the chorus, not that it was removed from the context of his body of work.
5.21.2006 6:18pm
Perseus:
National Review should have quoted Allan Bloom's line about rock music making life into a "nonstop, commercially prepacked masturbational fantasy" and left it at that.
5.21.2006 6:23pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"I can't drive 55(updated to 65 in 2001) by Sammy van Haagar.
5.21.2006 6:27pm
Reg (mail):
Also, I've always thought "won't get fooled again" was about dissatisfaction with the results of political revolution, and, though the song isn't clear, I've assumed it to refer to soviet style communism. I think it is at least a political rock song conservatives can agree with, if it's not essentially conservative.

By the way, does anybody know what the deal is with all the Who songs on commercials and TV dramas? Did somebody sell out or what?
5.21.2006 6:27pm
cdow (mail):
Since the definition of "Rock" songs here seems to be pretty liberal (no pun intended), how about "Ballad of the Green Berets"? It did hit #1 on the Billboard charts during Vietnam.
5.21.2006 6:30pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Also, I've always thought "won't get fooled again" was about dissatisfaction with the results of political revolution, and, though the song isn't clear, I've assumed it to refer to soviet style communism. I think it is at least a political rock song conservatives can agree with, if it's not essentially conservative.

Well, considering that The Who came out of the same working class London neighborhoods that produced The Kinks and The Rolling Stones, the song, in the context of the times, is more about the frustration felt by the youth of that time in history. Instead of the prosperous future promised to them after the privations of World War II and the aftermath (rationing didn't end in England until the late fifties), by the mid-sixties it was obvious that England was never going to regain its former glory, and prosperity for all (which had always been promised but never delivered to the English working classes) was not going to be delivered. That even with Labour in power the New Boss was going to be the same as the Old Boss.

Britain in the late Sixties was indeed a grim place, and as Pink Floyd summed it up in "Time", "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way".
5.21.2006 6:49pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well according to Fender Born in the USA in how bad the Vets got treated when they came home from Vietnam. Well pray tell me who in the Hell was treating them that way. Surely not CONSERVATIVES.

You should probably read the lyrics of "Born in the USA" before you go off on a irrelevant rant.
5.21.2006 6:53pm
The guy with the hat:

Bodies, man! "She was a girl from Birming-HAM! She just had an abor-TION!"

"Body, I'm not an animal!
Mummy, I'm not an abortion!"

Now I'm ultracurious to see what the other 48 songs are.


Or, for another abortion related song by a band not known for being "conservative," there is Slayer's "Silent Scream":

http://www.lyricsdepot.com/slayer/silent-scream.html
5.21.2006 7:43pm
Jason Fliegel (mail):
Damn those hippies at the VA and in the hiring office for the refinery! Damn them all!

Forget about Born in the USA -- if you want to hear some righteous anger from Springsteen, listen to Seeds.
5.21.2006 7:48pm
Tumbling Dice (mail):
I, for one, am very glad we have Freder Fredersons in this world to explain what all these songs TRULY mean to each an every one of us!

For some reason, I found it necessary to look up the following in the definition:

cock·a·lo·rum ( P ) Pronunciation Key (kk-lôrm, -lr-)
n.
A little man with an unduly high opinion of himself.

I believe the smug cloud over this post is getting bigger and drifting west, where it will join with the San Francisco cloud. Unfortunately, the two will be joined by a smug cloud that originated from George Clooney’s Academy Award acceptance speech. When all three of them come together, they are going to create a “perfect storm” of smuggitude. God help us all.
5.21.2006 8:10pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
I, for one, am very glad we have Freder Fredersons in this world to explain what all these songs TRULY mean to each an every one of us!

Well, maybe if you had some respect for history and context I wouldn't have to take you all to school.
5.21.2006 8:14pm
MarkM:
That even with Labour in power the New Boss was going to be the same as the Old Boss.

I dunno. This may be a valid interpretation of "Won't Get Fooled Again" but I always had in mind they were talking about revolution, the kind where blood runs in the streets and a new order is promised ("the shotgun sings the song", remember?), not the kind of social democratic reforms implemented by Labour.

I read that Pete Townsend (the lyricist) has disowned the song as "irrelevant" in the modern world. Maybe he thinks utopian revolution promising a whole new order is a good thing now or maybe the failure of fascist and communist parties as mainstream political movements makes it obsolete.

But it is quite a good song in that it captures the idea that "revolutionaries" promising a better world, whatever kind of world they have in mind, are often as rotten as the current batch of leaders. That's not an exclusively conservative idea but it is certainly a running theme in much conservative political thought (at least Burkean thought) -- with original sin and unchangeable human nature and all.
5.21.2006 8:23pm
JosephSlater (mail):
So the defense of the idea that "Born in the USA" is really a "conservative" song requires us to ignore pretty much every single lyric in the song except the chorus, "Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A." -- heck, you have to ignore not only the clear meaning of the text, but also the obvious intent of the author. How curious for the right-wingers around here to urge such methods of interpretation.

For those textualists among us, here are the actual lyrics. Hell, if this song had been written during the Vietnam war, you would have had conservative posters here claiming Springsteen's speech was aiding the enemy to downright seditious.

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

[chorus:]
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man

[chorus]

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"

[chorus]

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

[chorus]
5.21.2006 8:29pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Well, considering that Sammy Hagar came out of the working class northern California neighborhoods that produced the Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds, the song in the context of the times, is more about the frustration
felt by the youth of that time in history.Instead of the prosperous future promised them after the privations of WWII and the aftermath(rationing didn't end in California until the late 50's)by the mid 70's it was obvious that the US was never going to regain its former glory, and prosperity for all(bla bla bla)was not going to be delivered. That even with the democrats in power the new boss was going to be the same as the old boss. The US in the late 70's was indeed a grim place, what with disco and polyester and ugly cars, and Mr. Hagar summed it up so well with his plaintiff plea for slower traffic to yield to the right.
5.21.2006 8:33pm
JimmySevenbakers:
I'm a recovering Sprinsteen that got tired of his "common man schtick". One drive past his mansion in Rumson, or his farm outside Colts Neck , NJ where he parks his classic cars is enough. This is a guy that got sued by the lowest members of the rock and roll totem pole, roadies, for not wanting to pay union wages. Springsteen is a sham.Anyone catch his rambling ,incoherent vision for America on the ABC millenium special? Plain out and out commie in the Soviet mold.
5.21.2006 8:53pm
JimmySevenbakers:
I'm a recovering Sprinsteen fan that got tired of his "common man schtick". One drive past his mansion in Rumson, or his farm outside Colts Neck , NJ where he parks his classic cars is enough. This is a guy that got sued by the lowest members of the rock and roll totem pole, roadies, for not wanting to pay union wages. Springsteen is a sham.Anyone catch his rambling ,incoherent vision for America on the ABC millenium special? Plain out and out commie in the Soviet mold.
5.21.2006 8:53pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Well, considering that Sammy Hagar came out of the working class northern California neighborhoods that produced the Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds, the song in the context of the times, is more about the frustration

My parents are one (actually half) a generation removed from The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks and grew up in the same economic circumstances in England. In fact my Great Aunt lived down the street from the Davies' in the Muswell Hill neighborhood of London and my 2nd cousin played with the Davies children when she was young. My father is from the same neighborhood as Ozzie Osborne (my dad is 18 years younger). So don't mock me or think I don't know a little bit about England in the fifties and sixties.
5.21.2006 8:59pm
Barry Dauphin (mail) (www):
Well, whatever Pete originally had in mind for Won't Get Fooled Again, he did not allow Michael Moore to use it for Fahrenheit 911.


The musician said he felt "Won't Get Fooled Again," "not an unconditionally anti-war song," was not right for the film, and that he suggested to his publisher and manager that Moore approach Neil Young, whose catalog, he felt, included more appropriate tracks.
5.21.2006 9:05pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
MY parents are one(actually half but who cares)a generation removed from the Clap,the Krabs,and the Drips
and grew up in the same economic circumstances in Hoboken.
In fact, MY great aunt lived down the street from Goobers garage in the muffdiver mounds neighborhood of of Bugtussle and MY 2d cousin played with Goober's children when she was young. MY father is from the same neigborhood as Pea Wee Herman (MY dad is 18 years younger if you care). So don't mock ME or think I I I I don't know nuthin about Hobken in the 60's and 70's. ME ME ME MY MY MY WGAF?
5.21.2006 9:23pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I have always thought of 'Won't Get Fooled Again' as more anarchist than anything else.

I'd have called 'Sympathy for the Devil' conservative when it came out, but conservatives have stopped being isolationists, so now it's hard to say.
5.21.2006 9:45pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Townshend played WGFA at the Secret Policeman's Ball, a fundraiser for Amnesty International. Do you really suppose Pete and the audience there were thinking of the song as, say, an ode to Reagan and Thatcher? Or are NR conservatives just ditching originalism with regard to songwriter's intent?
5.21.2006 10:02pm
Joe Kristan (www):
NR does a lighthearted piece on "conservative" rock songs, and Freder alone posts 20+ comments to debunk it. The article is clearly a nefarious plot to divert liberal intellectual energy to foolish and futile efforts; it has succeeded brilliantly.
5.21.2006 10:09pm
Lev P (mail):
Townshend says: "It's really a bit of a weird song. The first verse sounds like a revolution song and the second like somebody getting tired of it. It's an angry anti-establishment song. It's anti people who are negative. A song against the revolution because the revolution is only a revolution and a revolution is not going to change anything at all in the long run, and a lot of people are going to get hurt."

I like it when I was a conservative and I like it now that I'm more of a libertarian. I would hesitate to call the song itself either conservative or libertarian, though. I think it's the song of an ex-idealist whose eyes are open.
5.21.2006 10:16pm
Steven Horwitz (mail) (www):
Thief:

"Dream On" is by Aerosmith, not Led Zeppelin. That, of course, was when Aerosmith was good.

One song not mentioned here that might be on the list is John Cougar Mellencamp's "Minutes to Memories." Very individualist theme:

On a Greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
He looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I'm old kind of worn out inside
I worked my whole life in the steel mills of Gary
And my father before me I helped build this land
Now I'm seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands
My family and friends are the best thing I've known
Through the eye of the needle I'll carry them home
CHORUS
Days turn to minutes
And minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams
That we have planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out
And be the best you can
The rain hit the old dog in the twilight's last gleaming
He said Son it sounds like rattling old bones
This highway is long but I know some that are longer
By sunup tomorrow I guess I'll be home
Through the hills of Kentucky 'cross the Ohio river
The old man kept talking 'bout his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man's pillow is his peace of mind
This world offers riches and riches will grow wings
I don't take stock in those uncertain things
CHORUS

The old man had a vision but it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way and I pay a high price
When I think back on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I'm older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life It's what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides No one said it'd be easy
The old man told me this my son i'm telling it to you
5.21.2006 10:43pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"Happiness is a Warm Gun" from the White album.
5.21.2006 11:10pm
The Original TS (mail):
Please don't tell me that anything by the Clash is on the list. How about the Ramones?

Oh, absolutely. Over the last nine months or so, everyone I know would put "I Wanna Be Sedated" on the list. Warren Zevon gets a look in too, as the White House seems to have adopted "Send Lawyers, Guns and Money" as its crisis-management theme song.
5.21.2006 11:46pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Check out Steve Walsh's (the great rock singer ever) album cover. The cover certainly pays homage to the 2nd Amendment.
5.21.2006 11:47pm
LittleJ (mail):
Probably too late to respond, but anyway:

Freder said:
"Well, if you want to take one song out a body of work that spanned over 25 years and call it "conservative" or "libertarian" and ignore the politics, lifestyle, and totality of the art of the authors, you are just being disingenious."

Well, I'm not a Who fan, but if the writer's lifestyle is an indication of the leanings of every song ever written, I doubt if there are many rock songs that are anything but anarchic, so maybe you have a point. I wouldn't call it conservative or libertarian, but to say that every song only fits a solitary context, which you have deigned to school everyone about, is just as disingenuous as your Reagan example. I don't buy the context you're selling completely, as the first stanza says "the shotgun sings the song"; my take is a reference to violent revolution - Labour didn't use shotguns, did they? I stick by my interpretation that you take care of the ones you love because raw idealism isn't really for the man on the street.

JosephSlater said:
"Even if your reading of "Won't Get Fooled Again" is correct, it's hardly uniquely conservative to oppose the Khmer Rouge or Stalinism, or what came before them, or both."

I'm not sure where you got that idea from my post. I said I thought the song more libertarian than conservative ( although in my opinion it's not either one), and I said I could use the lyrics today as a reaction to the excesses of the communist (were they really "liberal"?) and islamic (arguably conservative) revolutions. How is that an implication that one has to be conservative to oppose murderous tyranny? Idealism has many forms, including communism, religious zeal, nationalism, etc. Pick your poison - it's still poison, and I think that's what the song says.

Are you assuming I'm conservative or libertarian? Don't.
5.21.2006 11:49pm
JosephSlater (mail):
LittleJ:

We may be misunderstanding each other, or I you, in which case I apologize. The point I was trying to make was simply that if one reads "Won't Get Fooled Again" as being anti-revolution in the sense of the Cambodian or Soviet experiences, then liberals, libertarians, and conservatives could all claim it, because all those groups opposed the Khmer Rouge and Stalinism. If we agree on that, cool.

I still really, really wish somebody would post the list so we could discuss some other songs.
5.22.2006 12:04am
Constantin:
Springsteen, chartlatan that he is, certainly didn't do much to challenge the popular perception of "Born in the USA." He milked it for everything it was worth.

He ran the same con with "The Rising," which exploited 9/11 far more extensively than the Alan Jackson shlock that's been so widely derided.

I grew up with this guy's music; literally it was the soundtrack to my life. For my 21st birthday my dad took me to see him (this was 2000) where he proceeded to yell at the crowd for not donating enough to a local canned food drive. The lameness was so jarring--here's a guy who fired his band, then took them back to make a buck and sold them as his "Blood Brothers," mocking people who were making him a million dollars richer in one night--that I broke out the AC/DC and Skynyrd on the ride home from the stadium and never looked back.
5.22.2006 12:12am
JosephSlater (mail):
You can dislike his politics, but Springsteen has been sincere and consistent about them. He has refused to cross picket lines at concert venues. He was playing versions of "Born in the U.S.A." without the chorus to emphasize the meaning of the song on various tours. He has given much time and money to causes he supports. As to the "fired his band," comment, pretty much every single rock star that's been around for decades has played with different musicians, and he's obviously on good terms with the E-Street guys.
5.22.2006 12:19am
SlimAndSlam:
Yes, please, someone post the list. I'm interested to find out where Graham Parker's "You Can't Be Too Strong" wound up on it.

It's interesting that many seem to think that a song's lyrics sum up its viewpoint. "Won't Get Fooled Again" is a terrific example of the simplicity of that notion. The lyrics are deeply cynical, counselling that any firebrand (left- or right-wing) should be viewed with extreme skepticism, and that any leader should be viewed potentially as one who will either exploit or ignore his followers upon assuming power.

The music, however, is anthemic, carefully orchestrated to build up to a unifying climax, made all the more powerful in concert, when a stadium full of adoring fans can add to the song's power by screaming in exultant unison at the final "Yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh!" The music encourages the listener to become exactly the sort of rabid follower that the lyrics caution against becoming.
5.22.2006 12:23am
JosephSlater (mail):
Nice suggestion of "You Can't Be Too Strong," which seems at least on its face to be pretty skeptical/hostile about abortion.
5.22.2006 12:29am
therut:
Honestly the problem with Born in the USA is that is the only three words you can understand. As for Kenny Rogers who is Country not Rock. I would pick "Coward of the County" as conservative.
5.22.2006 1:00am
SlimAndSlam:
Nice suggestion of "You Can't Be Too Strong," which seems at least on its face to be pretty skeptical/hostile about abortion.

There's an undercurrent of that. If I remember correctly, Parker has stated that his real hostility in that song was to men who would encourage abortion as an easy way to escape responsibility for their own actions. (This could also be viewed as a feminist reading - abortion as a woman's choice.)

The last bridge, though, suggests that abortionists can only view themselves with loathing and contempt, which seems pretty clearly antiabortion to me.

Did it make the list?
5.22.2006 1:22am
Thief (mail) (www):

"Dream On" is by Aerosmith, not Led Zeppelin. That, of course, was when Aerosmith was good.


I always thought Aerosmith only did a cover, turns out you are correct. (The singer sounds nothing like you think Steve Tyler would sound like, which is why it has sat quiescently in my MP3 archives under Led Zeppelin since I got it off Napster in 2000 It has now been renamed.)

And also, it appears that Prof. Adler already had Rush's "The Trees" as one of his long ago Sunday Song picks.
5.22.2006 1:41am
Mark71:
Ozzy Osbourne - Thank God For The Bomb

Like moths to a flame
Is man never gonna change
Time’s seen untold aggression
And infliction of pain
If that’s the only thing that’s stopping war

Then thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb

Nuke ya nuke ya

War is just another game
Tailor made for the insane
But make a threat of their annihilation
And nobody wants to play
If that’s the only thing that keeps the peace

Then thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb

Nuke ya nuke ya

Today was tommorow yesterday
It’s funny how the time can slip away
The face of the doomsday clock
Has launched a thousand wars
As we near the final hour
Time is the only foe we have

When war is obsolete
I’ll thank God for war’s defeat
But any talk about hell freezing over
Is all said with tongue in cheek
Until the day the war drums beat no more

I’ll thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb
Thank God for the bomb

Nuke ya nuke ya
5.22.2006 2:50am
AST (mail):
Wow. I just read the name of the list and the number one song was obvious. The reason it's conservative is that we know better than to expect political promises to be kept. I think it's part of the thought process that creates a conservative to realize that all promises that government will solve our problems are lies. All votes are a choice among evils. We hope we'll get a society that we feel good living in, but we know it probably won't get much better. But, foremost, we won't be fooled this time.

I was 16 when Barry Goldwater lost to LBJ, and was crushed, but I remained conservative, sadder and wiser.
5.22.2006 3:28am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
BT,

Do you have any Idea re: eating chicken and dumplings refers to?

It is not about breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the conventional sense.
5.22.2006 7:50am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Highway 61 Revisited - Dylan

On the incompetence of government services.
5.22.2006 8:02am
BT:
M. Simon

Until you mentioned it, no I didn't!!! Now I get it. Which is pretty funny.
5.22.2006 8:21am
Random3 (mail):
"My favorite Rush song is "Subdivisions", which basically insults their entire fanbase--middle class surbanites. About the only other band that can get away with calling their fans a bunch of mindless idiots is Pink Floyd--isn't that the entire point of The Wall (well that and "I hate women and my mother in particular")."

You badly misunderstand this song if you think Rush is trying to insult anyone with it. It's not about criticizing middle class life. It's a song about the "the restless dreams of youth" - how young people chase their dreams, and what happens after they've lost them. The lyrics are below - the beginning is a criticism of the ordered lifestyle of the suburbs, but from the perspective of the young dreamer or "misfit". The last line of the song shows another perspective -"Somewhere out of a memory / Of lighted streets on quiet nights" - the memory of the same dreamer - but one who has lost his dream and wants to "relax their restless flight". And what do they dream of then? They dream of home.

So Peart isn't writing to criticize his fans - he's writing about the changing outlook of youthful dreamers. It's about human nature.

Subdivisions

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone

Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone

Subdivisions ---
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Subdivisions ---
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights...
5.22.2006 9:00am
Random3 (mail):
"My favorite Rush song is "Subdivisions", which basically insults their entire fanbase--middle class surbanites. About the only other band that can get away with calling their fans a bunch of mindless idiots is Pink Floyd--isn't that the entire point of The Wall (well that and "I hate women and my mother in particular")."

You badly misunderstand this song if you think Rush is trying to insult anyone with it. It's not about criticizing middle class life. It's a song about the "the restless dreams of youth" - how young people chase their dreams, and what happens after they've lost them. The lyrics are below - the beginning is a criticism of the ordered lifestyle of the suburbs, but from the perspective of the young dreamer or "misfit". The last line of the song shows another perspective -"Somewhere out of a memory / Of lighted streets on quiet nights" - the memory of the same dreamer - but one who has lost his dream and wants to "relax their restless flight". And what do they dream of then? They dream of home.

So Peart isn't writing to criticize his fans - he's writing about the changing outlook of youthful dreamers. It's about human nature.

Subdivisions

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided
The future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided
In the mass production zone

Nowhere is the dreamer
Or the misfit so alone

Subdivisions ---
In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
Subdivisions ---
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out
Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory
Of lighted streets on quiet nights...
5.22.2006 9:00am
LittleJ (mail):
JosephSlater:
Yes, I think we're on the same page on that one.
5.22.2006 9:08am
rickb (mail):
As soon as I read, "My favorite Rush song . . ." I stopped reading and ran out of my office.
5.22.2006 11:03am
Hoosier:
Fred seems to think he's cool. I'd hate to be around when he figures out that no-one who posts on VC has much claim to plumbing the depths of teen-angst-driven music.

I was in a bunch-o-bands in the mid-80s--high school and college. I played a black Fender Strat, and my best band covered tunes like King Crimson's "Thela Hun Ginjeet," Genesis's "Return of the Giant Hogweed," and all that other hippie-dippy stuff that would get Eric Cartman apoplectic.

I was then a libertarian, though I couldn't stand Rush or their Ayn-Rand-inspired lyrics. (Still can't.)

I'm now a Dick Lugar conservative.

And though I had teen dreams of rock stardom, I've never made the mistake of thinking that I was cool. Or that the songs mean anything. The best rock lyrics I've found come from songs like "One Week" by the BNLs. What do they mean? Who cares?

Like Kurosawa I make mad films. Okay, I don't make films. But if I did they'd have a Samurai
5.22.2006 11:32am
Houston Lawyer:
Revolution -- The Beatles

I've always thought of WGFA as a conservative song. It seemed to highlight the foolishness of overthrowing the old order for some new nirvanah, which was all the rage of the left back in those days.
5.22.2006 11:41am
Goober (mail):
Dumbest. Distraction. Ever.

Ann Althouse did her self-indulgent thing a while ago on a similar note, observing (in blithe indifference to the world) that there was something quintessentially right-wing about being an artist. And then people started arguing that there was rather something quintessentially left-wing about being an artist.

Those of us who thought there was only something quintessentially artistic about being an artist were bored stiff by that conversation, too.
5.22.2006 12:06pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Fred seems to think he's cool. I'd hate to be around when he figures out that no-one who posts on VC has much claim to plumbing the depths of teen-angst-driven music.

Well no, I'm much too old to be cool. But I am wise enough to know that I was a hopeless geek when I was younger. But my politics really haven't changed either. I am a little more of a pragmatist, but still unashamedly liberal--and I grew up in hardcore Republican country in the suburbs of Chicago.
5.22.2006 12:15pm
Hoosier:
"and I grew up in hardcore Republican country in the suburbs of Chicago."

Oh, no. Dupage County?

I'm originally from New Trier Township myself: Not hardcore GOP, but generally breaks toward Republicans.
5.22.2006 12:30pm
uh clem (mail):
...no-one who posts on VC has much claim to plumbing the depths of teen-angst-driven music.

Well, perhaps not the current teen generation, but it would be ridiculous to assume that none of us were ever teenagers.

And presumptious to assume that none of the erstwhile teenage VC posters ever plumbed the depths of angst driven music. In fact, I'd argue just the opposite - the forty-something thoughtful VC poster is probably more likely to have plumbed those depths way back when than the average. Speaking from my own personal experience, of course.

Finally, WGFA is a conservative song? WTF? Preposterous.
5.22.2006 12:48pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Oh, no. Dupage County?

You got it. Downers Grove to be precise.
5.22.2006 12:55pm
JosephSlater (mail):
This may be a waste of time, but (i) I'm grading and looking for wastes of time; (ii) people, even political and legal geeks, like to talk about popular culture (and I agree with Uh Clem about the probability that some posters here know what they're talking about; and (iii) the National Review started all this by coming up with a list of 50 "conservative" rock songs. Speaking of wish, I still hope somebody posts that list.

Since Althouse's unconvincing piece about Dylan/"great artists" being right-wing has been mentioned, maybe it's worth asking: what's with right-wingers trying to claim rock and roll (or at least some decent chunk of it) is "conservative"? A nagging insecurity that conservative kids aren't cool kids?
5.22.2006 1:01pm
therut:
This day and age I would hope that any child was not cool. Cool leads down a dead end path. Cool is just being conformist like most liberals. It takes little intelligence to be cool. Cool is nothing more than an illusion. I would hope as one gains wisdom one does not look back fondly on their cool time.
5.22.2006 1:17pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Cool is just being conformist like most liberals.

It sure is a crazy mixed up world where liberals are "conformists" and "conservatives" are somehow the anti-establishment radicals. Think about it. Conservatives, by the very definition of the phrase, want to conserve the way things are--or at least return to the way they think they once were. They extol "traditional" values and a society that reflects the past, not progressive or revolutionary values. By definition, they reject those.
5.22.2006 1:26pm
scepticalrepub:
Bob Dylan wrote in "All Along the Watchtower"

There are many here amoung us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But You and I have been trough that
And this is not our fate
Let us not talk falsely now
The hour's getting late

I've always thought that was a conservative phrase
5.22.2006 1:30pm
Jaybird (mail):
If you look at the works of England Dan &John Ford Coley, you can very much sense a conservative undercurrent.


Hello, yeah, it's been a while.
Not much, how 'bout you?
I'm not sure why I called,
I guess I really just wanted to talk to you.
And I was thinking maybe later on,
We could get together for a while.
It's been such a long time,
And I really do miss your smile.

I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight.


While some might consider the "I'm not talking 'bout moving in" to be a thinly-veiled anti-marriage message, there is an affirmation of human connection found in the opening chorus: Hey, I miss you.

The song continues:


We could go walking through a windy park,
Or take a drive along the beach.
Or stay at home and watch t.v.
You see, it really doesn't matter much to me.


Do you see the CrunchyCon undercurrent in this verse? A love for the outdoors while, at the same time, a respect for man's dominion over the environment.

The song finishes:


I won't ask for promises,
So you won't have to lie.
We've both played that game before,
Say I love you, then say goodbye.


Perhaps the saddest lyrics ever written by a white person. It takes a realistic view of the relationship between the two but wishes to maintain the connection anyway.


I'm not talking 'bout moving in,
And I don't want to change your life.
But there's a warm wind blowing,
The stars are out, and I'd really love to see you tonight.


I don't want to change your life... but you've changed mine. And I'd really love to see you.

What's more conservative than that?
5.22.2006 2:35pm
John Herbison (mail):
The quintessential conservative rock song? How about Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd?

John Stuart Mill was right.
5.22.2006 2:37pm
Steve Rosenbach (www):
Lately, I've thought of this line as a prescient rejoinder to Kerry/Reid/Pelosi...

"You say you got a real solution,
we-ell you know...we'd all love to see the plan."
5.22.2006 2:41pm
Goober (mail):
Hilarious, Jaybird. Heh heh heh. However I must quibble that the saddest lyrics ever written by a white person are:

It started out like a song, we started quiet and slow with no surprise,
Then one morning I woke to realize
We have a good thing going.
It's not that nothing went wrong, some angry moment of course, but just a few,
And only moments no more because we knew
We had a good thing going.
And if I wanted too much, was that such a mistake? Half the time,
You never wanted enough, oh wake up, I don't make that a crime.
And while it's going along, you take for granted some love will wear away,
We took for granted a lot, and still I say,
It could have kept on growing,
Instead of just kept on,
We had a good thing going, going, gone.


Well, either that or Pauline Kael's query (turned into lyrics by Springsteen), "Is a promise that love couldn't keep the same as a promise broken?"
5.22.2006 2:42pm
EricK:
Songs like movies mean whatever people want them to mean. Just look the movie Full Metal Jacket, it was suppose to be an anti-war movie, but it ended up being a Marine Corp recruiting movie.
5.22.2006 3:04pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
England Dan &John Ford Coley

Yeah, they really rock!
5.22.2006 3:16pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Even in 1976 that England Dan &John Ford Coley tune was so gay, and to think I got teased for liking Queen.
5.22.2006 4:18pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"Chickity China the Chinese Chicken
You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin
Watching X-files with no lights on
We're dans la maison
I hope the smoking mans in this one" BNL 1998
5.22.2006 4:27pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Even in 1976 that England Dan &John Ford Coley tune was so gay, and to think I got teased for liking Queen.

We finally agree on something Frank!
5.22.2006 4:29pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Freder, could you analyze the Bare Naked Ladies lyrics above? I know about the X-files but whats a "Dans la Maison"??
5.22.2006 4:55pm
LostmyCookies (mail):
Freder Frederson;

I think you may have mis-typed when you said this:


My father is from the same neighborhood as Ozzie Osborne (my dad is 18 years younger). So don't mock me or think I don't know a little bit about England in the fifties and sixties.


Ozzy was born in 1948. I believe you meant 18 years older, but I'm not sure.

Really not nit-picking.

As a libertarian-leaning conservative, I don't even have to look at this list to see how wrong it is. There is no such thing as good conservative rock music. The only good rock music is made by stupid drug-addled kids who want to get laid, and the best rock songs are all pretty much bad drug induced poetry about getting laid. That's the way it is, and the way it always will be. We like it because when we were stupid drug-addled kids trying to get laid, it was on the radio.

Now you kids get off of my lawn.
5.22.2006 4:57pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Ozzy was born in 1948. I believe you meant 18 years older, but I'm not sure.

You're right, my dad was born in 1930, and lived there in a council house in the same neighborhood (Aston) as Ozzy Osborne until 1955. My Grandmother lived there until 1962 (my Grandfather died in 1960). My uncle was born in 1944, so he is only a few years younger than Ozzy.
5.22.2006 5:27pm
Joe Gringo (mail) (www):
Sammy Hagar grew up playing in bands in Fontana, the Inland Empire of California
5.22.2006 6:27pm
BT:
OK M. Simon, you win. Here is my other conservative pick coutesy of Dr. Hook:

White ones, Black ones, yellow ones, red ones,
Necropheliacs looking for dead ones
The greatest of the Sadists and the Masochists too
Screaming "please hit me" and "I'll hit you"

I can't wait for F. Frederson's interpretation of this.
5.22.2006 6:34pm
BT:
From Shel Siverstein's "Freakers Ball".
5.22.2006 6:38pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
"Stupid Drug-addled kids who want to get laid"? sounds like "W" circa 1972..not that there's anything wrong with that.
5.22.2006 6:47pm
Vovan:
Cockburn Bruce - "If I had a Rocket Launcher" - very solid pro-gun lyrics. He even wants to blow up some helicopter that's crossing over his property. :)
5.22.2006 9:30pm
Jam (mail):
Average Joe: I used to be a subscriber of NR (10+ years) NR went downhill, once Rich Lowry became its editor.
5.23.2006 10:55am
Hoosier:
"Dans la Maison" is French for "In da House," as in "BNL is IN da House!"


Or is that too much of a "conservative reading of the text"?
5.23.2006 11:20am