We have probably more politicized artists in the 21st Century than we had in the 1960’s. The problem is, the majority of those recordings reach virtually no-one. – Rob Bowman
There’s a huge disconnect between pop culture and real life that’s been brewing for as long as I can remember. In music, and indeed wider reporting on celebrities, we’re fed a steady diet of sex and money and self-sustaining celebrity culture.
Except for the odd big-name charity single, you’ll rarely find a serious subject broached in the pop charts. Many people point the finger toward a convergence of political and commercial interests drowning out dissenting voices. Is it paranoia to say the “powers that be” don’t want people thinking for themselves? Is that why serious voices don’t make it in music today?
This brings me on to an impressive documentary that’s about to be released called Sounds Like A Revolution. The trailer, which I’ve embedded below, gives a shocking look at emerging counter-culture artists whose music expresses unrest and dissatisfaction with contemporary society. Established artists such as David Crosby and the Dixie Chicks point to efforts to suppress artists with a message: Crosby contends that “corporate culture doesn’t want us bringing up uncomfortable ideas”. Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks tells a story of DJs who were fired for playing the band’s music after they spoke out against George Bush.
Watch this trailer, and if you don’t feel the stirrings of revolutionary unrest, you may actually be dead in your soul.
Funnily enough, I caught the Neil Young documentary Don’t Be Denied recently, and there was the protest song Ohio easrly on in his career. But he was also brave enough to stand up and perform protest songs in 2006 against the Iraq war. It didn’t go down well with everybody, but it’s the kind of thing that sparks debate among people, rather than worrying about whether Lady Gaga has a penis or not.
Even watching the trailer is compelling enough to make you believe that the fact that Walmart is now a major player in the music business has led to important ideas and voices being silenced. And you don’t have to be Einstein to know that this is a bad thing.
Though I don’t necessarily believe that retail is the only problem. Harking back to my opening paragraph, I find that the media is more concerned with covering the minutae of celebrity life rather than giving space to artists with something important to say. That’s just wrong, and it worries me that we’re all distracted by the glittery, dumb celeb world when there are important issues in the real world that need attention.
Here’s a brief excerpt from the synopsis to the documentary:
With exclusive footage, the film follows Michael Franti from Bagdad to San Francisco as he challenges corporate media with his radical message, POWER TO THE PEACEFUL. From apathy to activism the film profiles NOFX lead singer Fat Mike as he converts his ‘apathetic’ fan base into the first punkrock lobby force. From the concert mosh pit to Congress, the film follows Anti-Flag as they take on the US Army’s predatory recruiting practices. While Paris takes us into his revolutionary cyberworld of social activism. Sounds Like A Revolution is a testament to the power of indie artists everywhere who are committed to expressing dissent and telling the truth as they see it, whatever the consequences.