Music and Politics

"You're a music page. It's not your profession to give political opinions, that's how you lose fans."

I’m sure you’ve seen posts like that one. Maybe you’ve typed one yourself. Music and politics— hell, any art and politics —should never mix, right? We should just sing about love and falling in love and making love and bad breakups and makeup sex and birthday sex and, apparently, robots and ninjas. Right?

Disgusting.

To try and divorce music from politics is like trying to tear the voice from the singer: In a medium that’s all about expression, asking the artist not to express themselves is heresy. Especially when polarization and echo-chambering have divided us into increasingly hostile tribes.

Music isn’t meant to make you feel good about yourself, it’s a form of communication. Music marries language and emotion for both the pleasant and the uncomfortable. Sometimes the uncomfortable topics become the greatest hits. (Have you ever read the lyrics to A Cautionary Tail or Latté Days & Porter Nights?) Sometimes— usually, even —music can change people’s opinions in ways that simply talking or typing can’t.

Definitely more than internet comments ever could.

It’s Just An Expression

Even the Bible cares more that you have an opinion than what that opinion may be. Never ask someone to be lukewarm just because you’re afraid of being scalded- if you’re not for or against something, you’ve stopped thinking critically about it.

So when I write songs like Mister Speaker, I’m not playing the “both sides are the same” card. I have an opinion and I’m sharing it as the beginning of a genuine conversation. If you think one party isn’t acting more like schoolyard bullies than the other, you’re just not paying attention. Enjoy your lukewarm coffee.

When I call my new album Cognitive Dissonance, it’s not solely about my own internal struggles. I’m pointing the finger at the party and the activists who gave Obama shit for taking a few vacations, but remain silent as their president spends more on Golf in 6 months than any president ever did in an entire term.

When I perform songs like Get Some, it’s not just because innuendos are fun. It’s born from watching decades of power-hungry, entitled “alpha-male jackoffs” break all the rules and then whine about what’s “fair” when we come to take our resources back. To claim anyone they shat on is just “looking for a freebie” or is too enamored with avocado toast to get a real job (that they outsourced anyway) is a slap in the face.

I have opinions, just like you.

I have dreams, just like you.

I choose to express myself with more than retweets and memes, preferably in audio-vibratory form. And if hearing the opinions of artists bothers you, I really don’t need to tell you to stop listening.

You were never listening in the first place.

  • MW

    Geoffrey Chaucer was a customs agent.
    William Shakespeare grew up in the house of a glovemaker.
    William Blake was a printer.
    Franz Kafka was an insurance agent.

    Middle-class livelihoods make art possible. The DeMedicis may pay for art, but it’s Michelangelo who’s actually painting the fucking ceiling. When you eviscerate the middle class, you destroy art. Period.

    Thanks for speaking out, Matt.

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