By Tony Birch
This month's blog came from a couple of observations that weren't mine, but caught my attention. One was a question on facebook and the other an introduction to a song. Should music involve itself in politics? I have to say, as what might be described as a folkie, it took me slightly by surprise. “Folk” has always been associated with the underdog, the ordinary people of a country and they don't tend to be the ones who get the fairest crack of the whip. We can name any number of songs detailing the travails of the working man, be he a miner, a farm labourer or factory worker whose life depends on the whim of the wicked owner whose only interest is profit and these songs are universal.
Amy Goddard bought out an EP recently that included a cover of Bod Dylan's North Country Blues. It's over 50 years old but still amazing relevant today, in perhaps a rather strange way. It's story of an ore mine closing and the effect it has on the local community. The reason it closes, the price of the mined ore in the USA being too high and it's cheaper from South America where miners work "almost for nothing" has a very immediate resonance to the current trade battles and tarrifs being imposed around the world as countries seek to protct their home markets and jobs.
So, in that respect it probably isn't possible for music to totally divorce itself from politics – with a small p – and musicians have a role to play in drawing attention to the world's ills. Perhaps where it gets slightly more contentious is when a musician starts crossing over into politics with a capital P and that became quite a big discussion on this particular facebook post. Music is also a form of entertainment so is there a point at which the observation crosses into propaganda for a particular view, which often can't be separated from a particular political party? There is one musician I try to avoid whenever possible for that very reason, my point being that he's singing about a opinion rather than a Law of Physics and politics tends to be shades rather than simplistic black and white.
For me, and I recognise that others will feel differently, that's the difference between politcal and Political music. Certainly it should be used to encourage debate, to draw attention to issues that affect us all, but ultimately it is one person expressing their view of the world. I certainly don't appreciate being told which party I should vote for, or which way I should vote on a particular issue. Ultimately I am spending my hard earned cash on getting away from daily life and I would rather like to be entertained.
Video - Ange Hardy - What May You Do For The JAM ? ( Just About Managing )