We at CSP are bad. Bad. We are rebels -- fighting the man, bucking the system, sticking it to ... well, the man again ("the man" receives of a lot of our ire). Okay, maybe not. But many of us do see that the system sometimes needs fighting in order to be fixed, or sometimes cast aside so something new can be built. And while we are fighting it, through writing, contributions, direct action, social outreach, civil disobedience, unchecked vigilantism, or whatever, these are the songs which inspire us.
Click on the song name to grab it from iTunes, or (for those songs which are not available through iTunes) from wherever we were able to find it.
Not Now John
Craig Bridger and I went to a Pink Floyd concert in college when the girl he asked turned out to be too Christian to go to see Pink Floyd. Some guy rear-ended the shark near the coliseum and then as we were stopped another car passed us and yelled 'You got what you deserved assholes!' Still don't know why they did that. Fuck all that! (sings "Fuck all that")
Won't Get Fooled Again
Okay, not a strikingly original tune choice, but the anthemic power of the closing track to The Who's brilliant Who's Next album displays Pete Townsend's righteous indignation at government corruption at its most ferocious and, for lack of a better word, tunefulness. It is a sizzling rock anthem with a core of strident criticism. Townsend's keyboard textures (also displayed on the album's opening, the social critique "Baba O'Reilly") would set the stage for many another seven-minute 70s anthem, but none could match the raw (or the staying) power of "Fooled." Daltrey's angelic shriek at the tail end of the song easily qualifies as one of the best rock screams of all time, not the exultant sexual yelps of Robert Plant, but a plaintive angry cry that is as much a call to revolution as the song's oh-so-true final verse: "Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss."
It's no mystery that Trent Reznor could read out of a damn phone book and I'd declare it the best thing I had heard all year. However his outspoken thoughts on our inept administration have come out in the media this year and his most recent album is laced with undertone of dissent, outrage and disbelief. While other songs on his album (Right Where It Belongs) were played at concerts to accompany video images of war-torn Iraq, people missing limbs and George W. Bush at a ball with Laura, this particular song was more mainstream, thus hopefully affecting more of the general public. Or so I hope.
Revolution against good taste. (This refers to most Coldplay songs.)
Revolution against cheating skanks.
Make Love Fuck War
Public Enemy & Moby
When I first heard this song, I frankly thought it was a little silly, with its "throw your hands in the air" and all. And lines like "make love fuck war peace will save us" and "power to the people 'cause the people want peace" just seemed a little too simple to carry a punch, especially compared to older Public Enemy songs like "Fight the Power." But what Chuck D. (and, yes, Moby) understand and I did not is that sometimes what you need to get your point across is just a simple phrase and a good fuckin' groove that you can dance to. I mean, I can't dance to it -- jesus, you would not wanna see that -- but I imagine other people could. Cool people. I'll just stand in the corner, sipping my drink, bobbing my head in the affirmative.
Counting Bodies Like Sheep
A Perfect Circle
I think this is a song that is rumored to have been a collaboration between APC's Maynard Keenan and Trent Reznor from the never-actually-realized side project called Tapeworm, but that's only a rumor. Knowing that Keenan (of Tool fame) was actually in the military for some years, he's not just talking out his ass about the war machine. And politics aside, this song just kicks ass and takes names.
Carrie believes this song stands for itself. Take it.
Right before the election in 2004, I was a bit of a basket case. It was the first election of my adult life in which I'd taken a real, serious step toward activism: GWB's first term really shook my liberal sensibilities loose and I did everything I could think of to try to get Kerry elected (or, more accurately, and perhaps the best reason why we lost, to get Bush not-elected). When I heard Mosh and saw its amazing video for the first time, I teared-up a little, and I remember thinking, "This might be the key. This might just mobilize the young voters, get their asses to the polls, and sqeak GWB out of office." Sadly, it did not. It's still a helluva song, and a helluva video. I love how it starts like a typical macho-rap -- a little talk about his career, lament about his personal trouble, bragging about his skills -- but then slowly, verse by verse, the song transforms into a political anthem -- a very cool way to hook those who might normally be turned-off by such an in-your-face message. In fact, watching the video still makes me tear-up a little bit. Maybe 'cause its a great song. Maybe 'cause we lost (we, of course, being the 99.9% of the world who are not ridiculously wealthy white men or gigantic corporations). Maybe a little of both.
4 Non Blondes
The song came out the year I was just leaving home (North Dakota) for the first time in my adult, single life, moving to Kentucky (with a brief 3-month layover in Michigan). I was broken-hearted, knowing I was going to be gone for a long time, I was to fend for myself from here on out. I really loved the song that summer of '95, for it's pure rebel yell after she "takes a deep breath and gets real high and screams..." Well, I had this wonderful friend, Susan, that summer who pointed out to me one night, when the song was playing and the mood was perfect, that it was okay for me to just let go and "scream to the top of my lungs."
Where is the Love?
Black Eyed Peas
This song makes me want to get up off my couch and do something ... as soon as I've beaten Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
What Fogerty is asserting here is that there are two Americas -- one for the rich and priveleged, and one for the rest of us. It's not news to anyone apart from the talking heads who scream "class warfare!" whenever a politician has the balls (or the lack of experience) to address it. But, while it is not a revelation, the aggressive, country-rock scream which gave Creedence its soul drives this message to a fever pitch. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, thanks to it's hard-edged, naked truth. Sadly, it is as true today as when it was recorded, and will likely continue to be true as long as I am alive. But that doesn't mean we have to like it, and it doesn't mean we can't fight it. Maybe, just maybe, we'll make a difference.
Here's one positive thing that has come from the current administration -- many defunct bands have gotten back together in reaction to W. Skinny Puppy disbanded in 1995 before this 2004 release and they are really fucking pissed off. This song makes one want to storm buildings and take to the streets to stop this fucking madness. As a side note, their most recent show in Minneapolis included Ogre (frontman) in a mock hostage situation where he was nearly beheaded by two "terrorists" in turbans -- and under their disguises they were George W. and Dick Cheney. Good theatrical fun for all!
When I was at my most "hippied-out" state, living in a beach bungalow in Venice Beach, California, my roommate Zeke and I would listen to this song a good 3-12 times a week. Anyway, it rocks and speaks to a revolt of a non-political kind -- to the spirit of youth and freedom and showing a little faith in the magic of the night. It reminds us all to remember that, in a town full of losers, it's alright to pull out for a win. I would not have thought this 10 years ago, but today it's very much an anthem for me.
Masters of War
This song's aethetic power is in the simplicity of its message, its righteous anger... it is less a poem than an essay, but its bite and relentless drive harness an enormous raw energy. Like the theatre of Bertholt Brecht, the song is intended not so much to lull us into its aural universe but instead to hold up the mirror to the world and force us to reckon with it. If this song doesn't contain revolution, then one must conclude that music is incapable of doing so.
Wish You Were Here
While in truth a tribute to a former band member, for me, this song is about how information shapes a society, and how even the most sensible, sincere peple can be tricked into compromise by a government who rules through lies, melodrama, half-truths and fear. When a government conrols what we know about the world, it shapes our perception as well as our reactions to that perception. Nothing could be more dangerous to freedom. Has our government gotten us to "trade [our] heroes for ghosts," or "hot ashes for trees?" Or maybe 2300 American lives (and 100,000 or so Iraqi lives) for an illusion of security against uncertainty and terror? And "what have we found? The same old fears. Wish you were here."
I had a difficult time choosing a song about revolution -- it's not in my nature -- but this song speaks to me. It is the title song from the biopic about writer Harvey Pekar. The simple lyrics embody the theme of the movie: one man's revolution within his own life.
Methods of Mayhem
Revolution against clothing (and, some would say, good taste).
The Mommas & The Poppas
We're in a society, today, that ever so subtly tells us, reminds us, and right out prevents us from "Dreaming." The internet and technology are supposedly our key to the world of information and freedom, but it also physically ties us to a vice perhaps mentally more addictive than cocaine! When the Mammas and the Pappas originally did this song, they had quite different problems, surely (cocaine being one of them), but freedom is freedom and they just don't write songs like this anymore.
Who am I kidding -- this is another North Dakota boy wants to get out, preacher-been lookin' at me funny, get me outta here blues song ... I might as well have gone for a wussy song like Out on the Weekend (which I love) by Neil Young. But, like the song says, "Preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm gonna stay...(as I "pretend" to pray)." I miss California. Does it miss me, David J.?
(ed. note: it certainly misses those casual reach-arounds in the shower, Kirk-o)
I think American Idiot was the best album of 2004. Green Day only gets better as time goes on -- what other punk (or neo-punk) band's eighth album (not counting International Superhits) was their best? They are a punk anomaly -- a band with something to say, the endurance and attention-span to say it, and the talent to make us want to hear it. All of the songs on it are fantastic, but this is obviously the most appropriate to the mix at hand. It's straightforward, specific, obnoxious and crushingly direct. Listen to the lyrics. Nothing more need be said.
Rockin' in the Free World
No one gets angry quite like Neil Young, and this anthemic sing-along song is notable for the sarcasm embedded within its title. As Springsteen learned with his almost-included-in-this-list "Born in the USA," political critique in music that is not written in great neon letters twenty feet high is easily misinterpreted and even appropriated by the Powers That Be (Reagan, in Springsteen's case) as being sincere declarations of jingoism as opposed to ironic commentaries upon same. But whereas in 1984 Springsteen could be read as an America-love-it-or-leave-it reactionary, it is hard to imagine Young's howling denunciations of oil thirst and inner-city heartache as anything but what it is: a disgust with the entirety of the system and a critique of a culture industry that ignores that corruption, a critique in which he himself is complicit. The complexity of voices like his, Dylan's, Springsteen's, Townsend's, Steve Earle's, Tracy Chapman's can be hard to digest, as used to turning to music for escapism as we are, but those who seek to use their music to fight for social justice are a reminder that as difficult as it is to escape the bonds of solipsism and complacency, a fairer world is one worth fighting for.