Wendlandt is a sophomore broadcast journalism major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
I heard the news that the rock band Rage Against the Machine is coming to Wisconsin next week to protest the anti-union bill that is causing widespread controversy. Their impending arrival made me realize that there can be a definite problem when politics and music intertwine.
When we look at some musicians, we clearly see at least some political influence in their songs. From prominent country artists Toby Keith and Alan Jackson, to acts such as Green Day and Bob Dylan, it is blatantly obvious where their political beliefs lie on the spectrum.
In American history, whenever there is a time of conflict we have seen an influx of music coming from both sides of the political spectrum. In the following segments, I will look at two different time periods, the Vietnam War and the war on terror.
THE VIETNAM WAR:
When the Vietnam War started in the late 1960s, most of popular music that came out had something to do with the war, whether it was good or bad (most of it was bad). The most obvious was the song “War” by Edwin Starr. I’m not saying that its ideals are good or bad, but it is definitely a liberal ideal. The only positive song for the Vietnam War that got any good reaction was “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Sgt. Barry Sadler.
THE WAR ON TERROR:
The war on terror has had many positive and negative implications on popular music. The most blatantly obvious examples to me have been “American Idiot” by Green Day and “Let’s Impeach the President” by Neil Young. Those have been songs wholeheartedly from the left side of the spectrum. The right has had mostly country artists, such as Toby Keith’s “Angry American.”
Now, this is a music column, but when it comes to popular music right now and in the past, it is clear to see the impact that political beliefs have on music. But this is clear: Politics and music don’t mix on any level, so they should not be referenced in music.
There is absolutely no need for politics to have any place in music, as it is for entertainment, not to try to sway someone to your beliefs. End of story.