Rebel Without a Motivation
Do you remember the Vietnam War? Most people reading this are probably too young to remember it personally, but are more likely to associate it with the political and social movements as well as the music that sprung from that era. One could easily argue that the sixties set the stage for our modern rock sound and many of the important social movements that most of us take for granted now: women’s right for equal treatment, racial equality under the law, and recreational drug use, all sprang from the sixties.
Why did so many things change in the late sixties? Could it be that rebelling against an unjust war lit a fire under people’s asses and the rest just fell into place? If that is the case, why isn’t anything happening now? We are involved in an unjust war and have been for nearly a decade. Let’s face it folks saving maybe 30 cents a gallon by stealing Iraq’s oil supply does balance out the lose of life on both sides as well as the billions we have spent through are tax dollars to help make the ultra rich a little more ultra.
I know many folks will say that there are people that support the war. Well, there were people that supported the Vietnam War too. Hippies got beat up, thrown in jail, and even shot. Why was the country torn in half 40 years ago, but we can kill a million Iraqis and no one barely notices? Most historians agree that LBJ didn’t seek reelection because of the human right movements taking place in the sixties. He felt the pressure of the times and the times pressured him out of office.
War and peace ripped through the music scene during that war and before the end of the Cold War the punk rock scene addressed the dangers of Nuclear War again and again. They kept hammering the anti-nuke movement and obviously it took more than punk rock, but major improvements were made for world peace and nuclear disarmament by the early 90s.
So why aren’t there any major movements within music to address these current injustices? What is so different now? For one, I think the government is wiser about the importance of media and has learned to dominate it and use it for its own ends. We focus on everything, but the war and the effects of our occupation of foreign countries.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences I see is the lack of hope. The younger populations of today seem to have just given up or at least given up on everything besides buying a bigger wide screen or upgrading their cell. They might dis on “The Man” over a cup of coffee, between texting their buddy, and before they go home to stare at a their glowing box of choice, but there is no real thought about going out and doing something about it.
Sure writing a song about something doesn’t bring about social change in itself, but when large amounts of people are doing something, it can. Things add up, people add up, and when there is enough action going on the government is forced to address it and things can change.
So, where should we go with this? We can’t expect miracles from bands, but in the past there was a certain responsibility for social awareness with some musicians that is lacking now. Either everything is just one big self absorbed party or any message is layered within lyrics that aren’t clear.
It is certainly not just the musician’s job to be socially relevant, but in the past it was a good place to start. America needs to move away from being a country that feels it can just take whatever it wants from whomever it pleases. The mega-rich should not be the only people that get to steer the course in America, because they only stir it towards ways where they make themselves richer, while the rest of the world, and America for that matter, get abused and stinks deeper into poverty and debt.
So I say this you music makers, step up and try to make a difference or soon you might find yourself unable to buy new guitar strings or be too busy working your second full time job to ever be able to play out.
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