Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Freedom Rock, Part Deux

John Miller at the National Review has come out with another top-50 list of "conservative" rock songs. By all rights, it's not a sucky as his last list, but it still leaves plenty to be desired.

Miller defensively casts himself as a "New Critic," taking the lyrics out of the context of the band as a whole. It's the only way he can justify most of his choices, after all. If he were dead, Jello Biafra would be spinning in his grave at the inclusion of "Holiday in Cambodia" by the Dead Kennedys. Sure, the song is anti-Khmer Rouge (unlike the wellspring of support for Pol Pot in liberal circles, right?) and it definitely pokes its finger at wannabe hipster yuppie scum. Anyone who knows the Dead Kennedys, however, will know that Jello saw ass-kissing corporate ladder climbers as the ultimate conservatives.

Even from within the confines of the New Criticism, there's just no excuse for including "Give It Revolution" by the Suicidal Tendencies (yes, he did). Miller opportunistically quotes the following lines: "The greatest weapon of the fascist / Is the tolerance of the pacifist / We’ve got to stand up and fight it." Gosh, sounds just like Ronald Reagan. What he didn't quote was this:
The worst evil the world has saw
Were crimes defended by the "law"
Deny our rights and we'll break it
You got to break the chains that hold you down
Crush the tyrants to the ground
Any guess at who made that "law"? Any thoughts on who the "tyrants" might be? Suffice it to say, it's not the Carter administration. And John, the "fascists" aren't who you think, either. It really does stretch credulity to include an open call for revolution in the streets as a conservative song, what with the dim view conservatism takes of revolution in the streets. I need only to draw your attention to "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the Who, which made it to number one on the first list on the strength of it's counterrevolutionary message.

Of course, Miller takes his New Critical stand with Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks and company precisely because he knows he's on a bit of a bullshit mission. Only by divorcing these songs from their context—in most cases—can the case for "conservatism" be made. My challenge to Miller is this: Give us a list of the top 50 conservative rock and roll artists. See how far you get on that one.
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