Political Understanding in Music

Posted: April 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

The connection between music and politics, particularly political expression in music has been seen in many cultures. As far as politically charged music goes, no sub-set or genre has seen more political activism than the Punk rock scene. The first wave of punk rock music aimed to be aggressively modern, distancing itself from the sentimentality of early 70’s rock. Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone said “In it’s initial form, a lot of 1960’s stuff was innovative and exciting. Unfortunately, what happens is that people who could not hold a candle to the likes of Hendrix started noodling away. Soon you had endless solos that went nowhere. By 1973, I knew what was needed was some pure, stripped down, no bullshit rock ‘n’ roll” At a time when rock and roll fans wanted something wild and rebellious, all they had were acts like Billy Joel and Simon and Garfunkel. The rock subculture of the time heavily rejected politics, because political music was associated with California flower power and the hippie myth. It was 1976 when the punk rock revolution hit Great Britain. The sex pistols had formed the year before, and people were ready for an angry wild continuation of what rock and roll had done. This 1970’s punk movement came to be associated with various left wing and anti establishment ideologies, including anarchism and socialism. Punk’s do it yourself culture and disregard for musical virtuosity held an attraction to those on the political left – mirroring the workers control of the means of production, and empowerment of the powerless. While there is still a small minority of punk bands who associate themselves with the political right, such as Screwdriver and Skullhead who hold onto communist and anti left views, they are often reviled or dismissed completely by the largely left wing punk following.

Punk rock music as a whole has held onto it’s left wing and anarchist views since it’s inception in the early to mid 1970’s. Many punk rock bands in recent months have maintained whole hearted support of the occupy movement, some of whom even performed on the steps of St. Paul’s cathedral while the Occupy London stock exchange was still in progress and still more at the bank of ideas. Recently split up Ska-Punk band The King Blues maintained strong left-wing and anarchist views throughout their whole career and maintained a strong left wing following with front man Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox writing and performing political poetry, appearing at anti cut’s marches and even performing on the steps of St. Paul’s cathedral with his ukulele. Image

Itch From The King Blues at a Protest against the treatment of punks in Indonesia

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