Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top political songs?

The New Statesman first, and the remains of the NME second, decided to analyse the top 20 political songs of all time.

Of course it's entirely a personal matter and also it's directly linked with the music you're familiar with. For instance, from their list it's quite obvious that the New Statesman people aren't incredibly clued up with the last 25/30 years music-wise, which is fair enough.

Music and politics don't generally mix incredibly well. If anything because most popular bands tend to end up making obscene amounts of money which renders some of their lyrics redundant, so to speak.

I'm a massive Clash fan, but I'd be the first to admit that some of their rabble-rousing was more to do with posturing than anything else. As for the messianic stuff a-la U2 or Simple Minds, they always trod the safe route and hardly ever sang anything anyone would disagree with.

The best 'political' songs are the most subtle ones, in my opinion. Which is why my personal list is not going to include any Redskins or Billy Bragg:

The Smiths- The Queen Is Dead (1986)
"I said Charles don't you ever crave to appear in the front of the Daily Mail dressed in your mother's bridal veil."

The Housemartins- The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death (1987)
"And even when their kids were starving they all thought the queen was charming"

The Clash- Clampdown (1979)
"So you got someone to boss around/It makes you feel big now/You drift until you brutalize/You made your first kill now"

Futureheads- First Day (2004)
"Welcome to your new job, hope you have a wonderful first day/We are so happy to have you join the team, you are so lucky on your first day"

Pulp- Joyriders (1994)
"Mister, we just want your car 'cos we're taking a girl to the reservoir/ Oh, all the papers say it's a tragedy but don't you want to come and see?"

The Clash- The Magnificent Seven (1980)
"Karlo Marx and Frederich Engels came to the checkout at the 7-11"

The Jam- Running On The Spot (1982)
"We're just the next generation of the emotionally crippled"

Manic Street Preachers- A Design For Life (1996)
"Libraries gave us power then work came and made us free, what price now for a shallow piece of dignity"

Pink Floyd- Money (1973)
"New car, caviar, four star daydream, think I'll buy me a football team"

Radiohead- Electioneering (1997)
"Riot shields, voodoo economics/ It's just business, cattle prods and the IMF/ I trust I can rely on your vote"

The Enemy- Away From Here (2007)
"I'm so sick, sick, sick and tired/Of working just to be retired/I don't want to get that far/I don't want your company car"

The Pogues- Streets of Sorrow Birmingham Six (1988)
"There were six men in Birmingham/In Guildford there's four/That were picked up and tortured/And framed by the law"

Paul Heaton- God Bless Texas (2008)
"God Bless Texas where the only real trace of a brown or black face is in a bird's nest where bears are for shootin', the world's fit for lootin' on protest"

Gang of Four- I Love A Man In A Uniform (1982)
"The good life was so elusive/ Handouts, they got me down/ I had to regain my self-respect/ So I got into camouflage"

REM- World Leader Pretend (1988)
"I sit at my table and wage war on myself/ It seems like it's all for nothing"


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

No where enough punk rock in that list!

White Riot, Police Story, Damaged Goods!

culfy said...

A better one from Paul Heaton from the same album

'Next time you hear them singing of a land so free and brave. Remember where they hang their flag is where they hanged their slave.'

Ceri said...

To be fair, Claude could have filled the whole list with the Clash alone.

I slightly wary of poitical songs- I love the REM song 'Fall on Me', then i found out it was supposed to be about acid rain or 'oppression'. No problem with the politics, it just they seem rather prosaic compared to the song.

Bob Piper said...

Ghost Town, Crazy Baldhead, White Man in the Hammersmith Palais...

socialist sam said...

Where is Bob Dylan???