Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Ever have this problem? I have real cognitive dissonance sometimes with artists whose politics I find distasteful. Example: Driving home last night, listening to REM's Document (don't believe the "I liked them when" crowd -- Document and Life's Rich Pageant are their high-water marks), I found myself singing along to songs like "Welcome to the Occupation" (blasts US political and business meddling in South America) and "Exhuming McCarthy" (unironic mau-mauing, as the title suggests). These are great songs, but I tire so much of the pop-song preachiness. And they're mild examples. Take, as another example, the unbelievably hateful gob of spittle called "Tramp the Dirt Down" that Elvis Costello flung at Maggie Thatcher (which makes the English Beat's "Stand Down, Margaret" seem like her campaign song). I hope I never get to the point of being unable to enjoy great works of music or art, simply out of disagreement with the artist or musician. But I still feel a little bit of guilt when I sing along with Billy Bragg's "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward."

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