Originally posted March 2, 2007 - Friday
Some of the analysis of the '60's is accurate. The draft was a significant motivator for opposition to the war; furthermore, the earlier civil rights and free speech movements lent legitimacy to political action used for social change. As for writing the songs off as "preaching to the choir," this is a gross overstatement and misperception. Of all the most significant topical songwriters of the Vietnam era—Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Mark Spoelstra, Buffy Sainte Marie—their topical songs on all topics—environment, race, labor, war—were always a small minority of their full repertoire. This is also true of later topical writers like Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, or Loudon Wainwright.
The suggestion that, in the end, Sha Na Na is more significant than Country Joe because the rock and roll pastiche makes you feel better than the song that makes you think, seems to offer some fairly skewed values, or at best, an explanation as to why the general masses have not called for impeachment of a proven liar whose failed policies have killed more Americans than the 9/11 attacks. In the end, music can communicate on many levels: both butt music and brain music, gut music and pain music; all have their place. But few uses of music, or literature of any kind, are more valid than those which challenge, provoke, or change us.
The Greatest threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!