So, it turns out that Amanda from Pandagon has also done a breakdown of a random sampling of the Top Fifty. So check that out, if you haven’t already.
Jonathan Swift has put up his own personal (and quite funny) version of the list. I’d have included Pink Floyd’s anti-immigration, anti-gay-marriage-rights, anti-marijuana-legalization, pro-Second Amendment ballad “In the Flesh”:
Are there any queers in the theater tonight? / Get ‘em up against the wall. / There’s one in the spotlight, now he don’t look right to me. / Get ‘im up against the wall. / That one looks Jewish! / That one’s a coon! / Who let all this riff-raff into the room? / There’s one smoking a joint! / And another one’s got spots! / If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot!
But that’s just me. Anyway, on to songs 11 to 20:
11. “The Trees,” by Rush.
Before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? “The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw.”
Ah, Ayn Rand: Noblest and most socially responsible of all philosophers. I heard a great critique of Objectivism about five years ago, went something like: “If Ayn Rand was being raped, would she scream for help?”
It’s not that Libertarianism is bad, it’s that this particular kind of it is–this Ayn Randish, “every man for himself” bullshit idealism. So what’s wrong with this kind of Libertarianism? I’ll let Zompist provide the in-depth answer to that one.
I suppose if one applies the metaphor a little more literally, this could also be taken to VERY conservative extremes, in a “don’t hate us because our race/religion/etc. is better than yours” way.
The thing is, one could just as easily approach this song from a Harrison Bergeron (by Kurt Vonnegut) perspective, and interpret it as referring to individuals’ talents, abilities, intelligence, etc. Why does it have to always be about money and taxes? It takes a bit of a stretch of the metaphor to say “Oaks are the ones with more money, and Maples are the poor”.
Or, hell, I could even see this song applied to the “Evolution vs. Creationism” debate: The Oaks are professors and scientists who have gathered and repeatedly tested data and have a lot to stand on, whereas the Maples are proponents of creationism, bitching because their hypotheses aren’t seeing the light of day.
12. “Neighborhood Bully,” by Bob Dylan.
A pro-Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of IraqÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a theme song for the Bush Doctrine: “He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad / The bombs were meant for him / He was supposed to feel bad / HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the neighborhood bully.”
On first reading, I mentally displaced a word and thought he said “this number” could be “an ironic theme song” for the Bush Administration, and it threw me. First, because with the song itself being ironic, I had to work through a kind of double-negative irony, and second because it would mean a conservative was using the term “irony” in an appropriate context, when usually the concept is about as foreign to them as Jacques Derrida giving a lecture on women’s equality in alternating Cantonese, Finnish and Aramaic to a colony of Martians.
In actuality, he says it’s “an ironic number” that “could be a theme song”, which is, well, wrong. I suppose it could work, if there was even a tiny scrap of evidence justifying the original intentions for going to war in Iraq. And don’t give me that bullshit about Poor Baby Bush, world out to get him. “What he gets he must pay for,” my ass. Has that mouthfuck ever had to suffer the consequences of any of his actions or decisions?
The lyrics, in their entirety, can be found here, by the way. I’m really not seeing “theme song for Bush” in there, and I think Dylan himself would agree.
Anyway, in my initial confusion, I started thinking about other ironic theme songs for the Bush Administration. Something more along the lines of, say, “Believe It or Not”, the theme song for “The Greatest American Hero”. Though, there are lines that are disturbingly fitting in a completely unironic way: “Suddenly I’m up on top of the world / it should’ve been somebody else,” for instance.
13. “My City Was Gone,” by The Pretenders.
Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for LimbaughÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservativeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dissatisfaction with rapid change: “I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride.”
Wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense. Why would conservatives complain about a government that favors business over the environment?
“Sensibility against central planning”? What, like local governments never do shitty things? You know, larger government is better if for no other reason than the fact that, as easy as it is for organizations or wealthy individuals or groups to put local/state politicians in their pockets, it’s far more difficult to buy out the entire federal government. Now, I’ll concede that if one succeeds, the problem is much larger than it would be on a local level. But I digress.
Anyway, I can’t say for sure, but looking at the lyrics, I’m not seeing any references to “central planning”. In fact, the only direct reference to government at all is just that: “government”. This could technically even refer to the schoolboard, for fuck’s sake.
And she’s not so much talking about “rapid change” as she is talking about “changes that destroy things”. See, this is another completely arbitrary conservative fear: that things will not always be the same. Chances are, they’ll get better, but then they’d be different, and different is bad! There’s no utility to it, or applicability to reality–much llike many other facets of conservative ideology.
What would John say about global warming, a relatively slow-moving change (compared to bulldozing a city and putting in a mall) that’s linked conclusively to human-produced carbon in the atmosphere, which could be curbed but isn’t by the same prideless conservative government that, as described in the song, sides with business over the environment? Speaking of cities being gone… *cough* New Orleans *cough*
14. “Right Here, Right Now,” by Jesus Jones.
The words are vague, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War: “I was alive and I waited for this. . . . Watching the world wake up from history.”
And no liberals were at all happy that the Berlin Wall came down. There’s no such thing as a liberal! There are only Republicans and Communists!
And again, Communism as exhibited by Russia, China, et al is not the same as the economic philosophy. But Saddam wasn’t a Communist, yet Saddam committed similar atrocities to those perpetrated by the Communist regimes. But how could he, if it’s Communism that causes them? !?!?!?!?!
But we’ve already been through this.
15. “I Fought the Law,” by The Crickets.
The original law-and-order classic, made famous in 1965 by The Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.
This song is absolutely in no way about rebellion.
Oh, right, and liberals don’t give a shit at all about punishing people for their crimes.
16. “Get Over It,” by The Eagles.
Against the culture of grievance: “The big, bad world doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t owe you a thing.” ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also this nice line: “IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”
If the big, bad world doesn’t owe anyone a thing, then why do conservatives fuckin’ spend so much time bitching about the estate tax? Why do only poor people have to work to earn money? Heirs and heiresses should have to suffer the same fate, yet when they bitch about their poor, unfair lot in life, it’s seen as working for economic justice!
Fuck that. Whiny conservatives are worlds worse than even the whiniest of liberals, because at least the goddamned liberals have something to whine about more than “you mean I only get two of my daddy’s yachts!? That’s not fair! Death tax! Death tax! Rabble! Rabblerabble!”
17. “Stay Together for the Kids,” by Blink 182.
A eulogy for family values by an alt-rock band whose members were raised in a generation without enough of them: “So hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s your holiday / Hope you enjoy it this time / You gave it all away. . . . ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not right.”
Yeah, your husband might beat the shit out of you, but you’d better stay together for the kids. Otherwise, the value of your family values is suspect. And if your spouse repeatedly cheats on you and humiliates you, that’s totally better for the kids than getting a divorce and ending an unhealthy relationship. Teaching your kids that they can change shitty situations in their lives is a horrible lesson! It’s better to instill in them a deep sense of shame for even considering the notion that they deserve better than to be treated in a degrading way.
Speaking as the child of now divorced parents who are much healthier, happier people apart from each other, I say fuck that.
18. “Cult of Personality,” by Living Colour.
A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: “I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m the cult of personality.”
Heh, wasn’t that phrase tossed around a bit in the last election? “Cult of personality”? Considering that one of the most important attributes possessed by Bush, according to the conservative voting constituency, was that he was the guy with whom they’d rather drink a beer, I don’t think there’s a lot of ground to stand on for using the term to criticize others.
Speaking of telling people that one and one makes three, what about all the misinformation that led us into war? What about when Bush called U.S. government bonds “worthless I.O.U.s” while trying to convince Americans to support his bullshit Social Security “fix”? Who the fuck is lying to whom, here?
Fortunately, it seems Bush is finally overreaching his ability to slick people over with his winning “down home country boy” bullshit pseudo-cowboy feigned charm.
19. “Kicks,” by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
An anti-drug song that is also anti-utopian: “Well, you think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise / But it ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happened yet, so girl you better think twice.”
Oh, heaven forbid humanity ever achieves utopia! What kind of liberal savage could ever hope for such a thing? (Which, of course, begs the question: Are conservatives actively working toward dystopia?)
And, wait a second, so now we’re not taking the book of Genesis literally? Will you people make up your fucking minds already?
20. “Rock the Casbah,” by The Clash.
After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.
I agree that banning (even if only through “urging”) songs is silly, especially considering the media coverage at the time: Would it really have mattered if we were reminded about the attack from a subtly tangible connection to a song’s theme or a particular interpretation of lyrics, or from being perpetually bombarded with the same two minutes of footage of explosions and falling towers dumped at us from everything capable of broadcasting video?
Though, I’m not exactly sure we should be using the tastes of troops in Iraq to determine the value of songs on our radio stations. (“We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn.” *shudder*)
In any event, if salivating over the idea of “Rocking” the “Casbah” is considered a conservative ideal, count me the fuck out.
Thus ends another installment of the Hip Conservative Fifty. 21 to 30 in the near future.