Music is entertainment. That’s the general idea of what music should be. But some things need to be looked at from the bigger picture – because sometimes music means more to listeners than just pure entertainment. Just to name a few, sometimes music is used to heal a broken heart, to pour out feelings, to release anger buried or for several other reasons.
Little do we know that many things affect the creation of music. We always look at the smaller picture but the bigger reason & picture we can think of what marks the root of music is the president that leads our country. Think about it – during the presidency of Obama, the music which was created didn’t sound anything like protest at all, maybe a couple or two here & there, but mostly the songs which debuted were very likely on the side of love, happiness & joy. There were even some presidents that learn to sing them out loud!
On the other hand, as soon as the whole globe learnt that Trump was running for the biggest throne in the entire world, we could see how our music changed gradually. The most common & known one would be by a Canadian band Arcade Fire, “I Give You Power”. The lyrics alone has a clear-cut meaning. Here a gist of what the song says; it’s about us the voters giving power to our president, yes, we do give him / her the power to lead, but remember that we the voters can take it away anytime we want to. Hey Mr. President, you better watch your back now, huh?
So here’s a fun fact on what Trump has made the people become. You would think that the protest music stops at Arcade Fire’s I Give You Power, but we kid you not when we say that there is actually a whole album about protest songs & it’s called Our First 100 Days – which holds songs from and for unhappy people during Trump’s firsts days of becoming the “historic” president of the US.
Protest songs have a long history and have served many progressive causes of the 20th century diligently. Beginning early in the 1920s and 30s or perhaps even before this with the labor movement their combination of musical notes, rhythms, beautiful compositions and talent have inspired generations to think and imagine differently and as they sang along to live differently.
It has to do with the power of music as Terry Garthwaite notes that which “brings people together with a common message.” And what greater common message was there ever in 20th century America than that which flowed out of the Civil Rights Movement? It was this movement that pushed the protest song to new heights and sold it like the song it was.
These songs had endurance about them and resonated with the people maybe because they came from a people long used to singing their songs in a beautiful way. The connection between the protest songs that ruled a generation with the black church was clear in most ways. The first protest hits such as “long walk to DC” and “when will we be paid?” came from previously black gospel singing groups and in this case the marvelous Chicago based Staple Singers. Soon everybody else was doing it and with the war in Vietnam, protest songs took center stage in popular culture. But as with all things, comes the decline what themes can a protest song raise consciousness over and which will touch the masses passionately today?
A recent gathering meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley concerned itself with these issues considering among other things the place of the protest song today. Also noted with care was how technology can be disruptive in the production of music of this nature because it is hard to get a voice out when so much social activism fights for the same two ears of any man or woman.
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In conclusion, it is worth noting that the protest song is not yet done. There are people who believe that they can change the world this way all over again and there is enough proof to back them up.
I know to most of my readers who have been keeping up with my latest posts, after reading this one you will probably think, “What’s with this guy? Why is he on such a Jimmy Carter kick?” Yes, it is true, in the last three posts I have in one way or another made a reference to Jimmy Carter. And no, I am not obsessed with a peanut farmer from Plains Georgia. The first two posts brought him up by sheer coincidence, not a big deal, then I saw an article I could not put down that starred who else but Jimmy Carter! I almost didn’t write this article because he seems to pop up in my posts so much. I tried to change it. But I can’t, it was an important piece that I feel highlights the need of former Presidents not to second guess and critique current Presidents. This is the reason I was drawn to the subject matter of this article so much. So here we go!
Recently former President Jimmy Carter made some subtle and then not so subtle remarks that our current President is not reacting fast enough to threats and crisis such as the Ebola outbreak and terrorists groups such as ISIS. This is a highly controversial move on Carter’s part since it is usually exceedingly rare for former Presidents to comment on sitting President’s in such a manner, and also disconcerting to most democrats for the current commander in chief to receive such political attacks from someone in his own party. So this is instant controversy here.
What was Carter thinking? Did he eat too many peanuts and they turned his brain into one? He should realize that in these times of crisis we need solidarity and we can’t get this solidarity by taking jabs at our current President. Mr. Carter’s chief complaint was that we had waited too long to contain ISIS and the President is not doing enough to help the hostages they are holding. This was noted as a rather ironic criticism to many since it was Jimmy Carter who himself had waited way too long to take action against the agitation, unrest, and then outright revolution in Iran, a revolution that in turn caused hundreds of United States citizens to be taken hostage by revolutionary thugs. History may debate what happened next, but whatever was going on behind the scenes, for the rest of his term, those poor Americans remained hostage to the revolutionary forces of Iran. In fact to his embarrassment it was not until Ronald Reagan took office that these U.S. citizens were finally released. Carter was also standing watch when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979. So yes, Mr. Carter, with all of your fumbles and bumbles why are you so quick to criticize the current President of the United States?
As I’ve said for former President’s to raise criticism against the current Commander in Chief while he is still finishing out his term, is rather unheard of. It is just an extremely uncouth thing to do, even for a politician! Other formers are steadfast in their absolute refusal to do so, even when they are repeatedly pushed by journalists and the like, they usually keep their mouth shut. George W. Bush for example, no matter what you may think of his policies while he was in office, has shown a tremendous amount of class when it comes to this scenario. He has been poked and prodded by the media to comment on the current administration over and over, but he is resolute in not critiquing a term that is still being carried out.
So I just can not get over the audacity of former President Jimmy Carter to open his mouth in such a way. He is simply ready to get in the limelight again I suppose. He had a generally lackluster one term presidency and lashing out like this is his best chance of gaining notoriety again. It’s a simple but sad equation that leads Carter to view negative attacks as his only hope of getting that oh so special attention of the media. It is this ill placed hope for attention that leads to such audacity out of Jimmy Carter.
I think I had mentioned Gerald Ford in my last Post, well, for those of you who like Gerry, guess what I’m going to talk about him again. I was recently going through some old Presidential Archives (ok it was YouTube, just sounded better!) and I saw a video of the 1976 Presidential debate between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. This was a very fascinating year, in light of the resignation of the sitting President Richard Nixon, Watergate, and Ford’s subsequent takeover.
Old Gerry sure had a lot of pressure on him in 1976, I could only imagine what might have been going through his mind at the time. (Probably, get me out of here!) But whatever pressure he may have felt at the time, I have to hand it to Ford, most of the time he concealed it and maintained an absolutely calm (if not flat) composure.
While Jimmy Carter went on for ten minutes pulling up all the reasons in the world how he could balance the budget by fiscal year 1981. Gerald Ford stood resolute, with a look in his eye’s like, (this guy is stupid, if he was on the football field I would tackle him!) Then when he was later questioned about the most controversial point of his short two year presidency, the pardon of Richard Nixon, he explained calmly and clearly that he felt that pardoning Richard Nixon was the only way to heal a divisive country.
After watching this debate clip I came away with a new respect for Gerald Ford. Even though fate had made it nearly impossible to win, he went out with class. Jimmy Carter in a lot of ways was extremely lucky to run for president the year he did, he could have said just about anything and still had a good chance of being elected, the animosity for the previous party at that time was incredible, and this debate clip gives testament to that.
As any reader of this blog, I am sure is fully aware, ( ya better be!) Mid Term elections is upon us. It is a time of year I usually look forward to. You know, I see the leaves falling the pumpkins suddenly appearing on people’s doorstep’s and dirty politicians scrambling to clean up their image, I love it.
But this year as I was staring at the fall pumpkin patch I found myself thinking, “Midterms who needs em’ anyway?” I mean, who really cares. Every single year the same batch of scoundrels clamor through the TV sets and articles trying to explain why they are better than the next guy. And every year we vote for the one that screeches his political attacks the loudest, and every year we are somehow unexpectedly disappointed when the Santa Clause we voted for does not provide us with the gifts that he promised.
This is all very sad right? Mid Term results are classically the same year after year. And what does this data tell us? That we are a very ill informed voting populace. The National Journal reminds us that every single mid-term it seems that no matter what happens the president is absolutely guaranteed to lose seats in Congress. And for the current President included, this should prove to be a particularly tough Mid-Term election year. Because it is usually the Democratic party that is hit particularly hard.
Historically, core components of the Democratic base just cease to exist as a political constituency on Election Day, voter turnout that may have shown strong support for a Democratic Presidential ticket tends to be a lot lower for the Mid-Term. So this time around, Congressional seats are almost guaranteed to be lost. But again I ask you, does it really matter?
But Republicans don’t you worry, there is plenty of room for you to get Shellacked too! It was in the historic Mid Term of 1974 that poor old Gerry Ford was pummeled by his Democratic contenders in the Mid-Term. So why were voters so intently focusing on the Mid-Term’s that year? Well for many good reasons, it was that year of course that Tricky Dick Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal and it was under these circumstances that the ill fated Gerald Ford came to office as the President in the first place. So of course these events certainly led to the unfavorable results the Republicans had that year in the Mid-Term.
A public that normally sleeps through the Mid-Term were galvanized but that years events to respond in record number. This led Ford’s party losing an unusually high amount of seats in a Midterm election year. In 1974 the Mid-Term did matter, and caused a tremendous difference. So the answer to my question, “Do Midterms matter?” Is usually not, but every so often when infamous events intervene the Midterm can deliver quite a wallop on an unsuspecting politician. So this year unless the political equivalent of a comet strikes us, let’s look forward to more of the same nonsense. Until then, see ya at the polls!