There are two things that we as Americans can always disagree on: music and politics. And when the two are combined, the results can be quite combustible. But as is the case with much of American culture, what drives some apart can bring others together. So in the spirit of Election Day, here are five politically-charged tunes capable of igniting just as much unity as polarization.
5. Anti-Flag- “911 For Peace”
Punk-rock veterans Anti-Flag are no strangers to political themes–in fact, that’s the whole foundation of the band. For that reason, it could be said that any Anti-Flag song could appear on this list and be equally suitable. But “911 For Peace” stands out as possibly the best embodiment of the band’s ideologies, especially in the second verse: “This is a plea for peace (world peace)/ To the oppressors of the world and to the leaders of nations, corporate profit-takers, and the everyday citizen/ Greed, envy, fear, hate– the competition has to stop/ When you see someone down, now’s the time to pick them up.”
4. Sean Hayes- “Politics”
Admittedly, this one makes the list partially for its namesake. Despite its titular indication, “Politics” quickly delves into other topics; but Hayes’ opening lines, “No more politics, I know what’s next/ Call me hypocrite, burn down bridges” express the all-too-common destructive results of ideological conflict. Not to mention that after the polls are closed and the election is decided, many others may be saying, “No more politics.”
3. Kevin Devine- “No Time Flat”
Never one to restrict a strong sentiment from being on lyrical display, Kevin Devine vents some serious political frustration in “No Time Flat.” Expressing what seems to be ambivalence turning to apathy in regards to candidates, Devine sings, “So I’m not sure why I vote/ ‘Cause I just don’t know what difference it makes/ It seems to me we get the same shit from them both.” Devine also puts a fresh spin on commonly-heard rhetoric with the line, “You say ‘support the troops,’ I do–I want them all brought back.”
2. Bright Eyes- “When the President Talks to God”
The eight years that George W. Bush was president was a period so rich with fuel for politically-minded musicians that it’s a wonder war wasn’t declared on it. Conor Oberst, Commander-in-chief of Bright Eyes was one such songwriter that seized the opportunity when he wrote, “When the President Talks to God.” Oberst’s lyrics boldly expose the now former president’s hypocritical uniting of church and state, begging such questions as, “When the president talks to God, are the conversations brief or long? Does he ask to rape our women’s rights or send poor farm kids off to die?”.
1. The Beatles- “Revolution”
Being arguably the greatest band of all time, The Beatles had and continue to have a great deal of influence on all of those who have ever listened to their music. With a somewhat uncharacteristically dirty, distorted guitar riff, John Lennon and his Beatle-mates hoped to make a difference, much like everyone else singing, “We all wanna change the world.” And after all, that is why we vote on this day, isn’t it?
Article by Trevor Courneen
Trevor is a writer for the Rockchester Daily, a great local blog about music. Check them out here!