Monday, June 05, 2006

Conservative rock songs

As someone who loves music and making silly lists, I can hardly resist commenting on The National Review’s recently published list of the Top 50 Coservative Rock Songs.

Just looking at the Top 10, however, it is obvious that they ran out of steam after No. 7.

1. “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” by The Who.
2. “Taxman,” by The Beatles.
3. “Sympathy for the Devil,” by The Rolling Stones.
4. “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
5. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” by The Beach Boys.
6. “Gloria,” by U2.
7. “Revolution,” by The Beatles.
8. “Bodies,” by The Sex Pistols.
9. “Don’t Tread on Me,” by Metallica.
10. “20th Century Man,” by The Kinks.

Who ever heard of “Bodies” by the Sex Pistols? Not to mention how silly it is to include anything by the Sex Pistols on a list supposedly touting the top “conservative” rock songs in the first place. Also, “Don’t Tread on Me” by Metallica and “20th Century Man” by the Kinks are not exactly rock-n-roll standards that everyone is familiar with.
The rest of the list is apparently a mish-mash of songs with a few standards, a lot of album filler and several that are total mysteries (”Government Cheese” by the Rainmakers?).

11. “The Trees,” by Rush.
12. “Neighborhood Bully,” by Bob Dylan.
13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders.
14. “Right Here, Right Now,” by Jesus Jones.
15. “I Fought the Law,” by The Crickets.
16. “Get Over It,” by The Eagles.
17. “Stay Together for the Kids,” by Blink 182.
18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour.
19. “Kicks,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash.
21. “Heroes,” by David Bowie.
22. “Red Barchetta,” by Rush.
23. “Brick,” by Ben Folds Five.
24. “Der Kommissar,” by After the Fire.
25. “The Battle of Evermore,” by Led Zeppelin.
26. “Capitalism,” by Oingo Boingo.
27. “Obvious Song,” by Joe Jackson.
28. “Janie’s Got a Gun,” by Aerosmith.
29. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Iron Maiden.
30. “You Can’t Be Too Strong,” by Graham Parker.
31. “Small Town,” by John Mellencamp.
32. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” by The Georgia Satellites.
33. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” by The Rolling Stones.
34. “Godzilla,” by Blue öyster Cult.
35. “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
36. “Government Cheese,” by The Rainmakers.
37. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” by The Band.
38. “I Can’t Drive 55,” by Sammy Hagar.
39. “Property Line,” by The Marshall Tucker Band.
40. “Wake Up Little Susie,” by The Everly Brothers.
41. “The Icicle Melts,” by The Cranberries.
42. “Everybody’s a Victim,” by The Proclaimers.
43. “Wonderful,” by Everclear.
44. “Two Sisters,” by The Kinks.
45. “Taxman, Mr. Thief,” by Cheap Trick.
46. “Wind of Change,” by The Scorpions.
47. “One,” by Creed.
48. “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” by The Offspring.
49. “Abortion,” by Kid Rock.
50. “Stand By Your Man,” by Tammy Wynette.

The list has already been shredded, ripped apart and lampooned by people more eloquent than me. They have made the obvious observations about how much of a stretch it is to claim many of these songs for the conservative cause, based both on the actual lyrics of the individual songs in the context of the times they were written (i.e. The “new boss” in the No. 1 ranked Who song “Won’t Be Fooled Again” refers to President Richard Nixon) and the politics of the artists who wrote and performed them (John Lennon, Mick Jagger, U2, etc.) And what a slap to right-wing rocker Ted Nugent that he gets no mention on the list.

But I do want to object to the notion that themes such as suspicion of the government, opposition to Soviet-style communism, objections to excessively high taxes and promotion of marital fidelity are somehow strictly “conservative” values, as if the opposites are supposed to be “liberal” values. If that were the case, then I guess we could say that “love” and “peace” are liberal values, leaving conservatives to value “hatred” and “war.” That’s hardly fair.

Finally, the cheap shot at Hillary Clinton at the end of the list is wholly undeserved. First off, Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” is clearly a country song, not rock, and if you are going to delve into country music then there are a whole host of songs that should be on the list starting with Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.” But secondly, it should be clear to anyone that no politician today is more represetative of the “Stand By Your Man” sentiment in Wynette’s classic tune than Hillary Clinton, who has managed to keep her marriage together despite Bill’s widely publicized issues with fidelity. Why don’t we contrast that with the marital values of the potential field of Republican presidential candidates for 2008 - how many divorces can we count between Rudolph Guiliani, John McCain, and Newt Gingrich?
Clearly, “conservatives” do not hold any kind of monopoly on marital fidelity today.

But to play along, I will shortly be posting my list of the top “liberal” rock songs of all time. Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment