Via The Poor Man comes The Top 40 conservative rock songs. My initial reaction was to snark about the cheesy nature of many of the songs within, but I reconsidered. A requirement for making the list was cracking the actual Top 40, so any questions of taste can be foisted on the public at large, and we all know how that goes. I'll leave that for a genuine conservative like Eve Tushnet. There were plenty of other points of interest, so let's get started:
Song #2 is "Revolution" by the Beatles, which gets things started on the wrong foot for me. Listmaker Bruce Bartlett includes it because it is "fundamentally anti-revolution". Why is being "anti-revolution" inherently conservative? Am I the only one who remembers the Reagan Revolution of the 80s and the Gingrich-led Republican Revolution of the 90s? Does that make me a conservative for opposing the Contract With America?
Bartlett also expresses surprise at the rebuke to the "often-violent demonstrations" on college campuses contained within the lyrics. I think he's misreading their sentiment. It's pretty clear that L&M agree with the goals of the revolutionaries ("Well you know/We all want to change the world"), they're simply disagreeing with the methods. Doesn't that put Lennon and McCartney in the same category as Martin Luther King? I'll be magnanimous and state that their belief in the effectiveness and righteousness of nonviolence is a universal humanitarian one, and not one that hews to a particular political ideology.
Song #7 is "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by the Byrds. Bartlett notes:
This is an odd conservative classic, having been written by old time lefty Pete Seeger and performed by a group that later glorified drugs in "Eight Miles High." Nevertheless, it makes my list because the lyrics are drawn straight from the Book of Ecclesiastes. I figure that any song based on the Bible deserved inclusion. I also like it.
Song #15 is the Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)", which Bartlett fetes as having a "strong law and order message". There's a bit of subtext in there as well if you look - consider the lyric "I needed money 'cause I had none" and ask yourself if this isn't a tacit admission that poverty causes crime. I don't usually hear conservatives making that case.
Song #18 is George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", a song whose inclusion Bartlett recognizes may be problematic:
The inclusion of this song may be controversial because of its non-Christian lyrics. However, I take the view that being deeply religious makes the song per se conservative, even if the religion is Hinduism or Buddhism.
Song #30 is Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach". Says Bartlett:
Amazingly, this is a strongly pro-life song, for which the singer was criticized by pro-choicers at the time. In it, she asks her fatherís advice about what to do with an out-of-wedlock child. "My friends keep telling me to give it up," she sings, but in the end decides, "Iím gonna keep my baby."
Finally, there are a couple of interesting choices in the runners-up as well. I'm not exactly sure how "Summertime Blues" qualifies as a "libertarian" song. It's a song about the drudgery of having to work for a living, which (call me crazy) would seem to resonate across the political spectrum. "Wake Up Little Susie", a song about how two kids fear their lives are ruined because their dirty-minded friends will never believe that a boy and a girl could spend a few unchaperoned hours together without having sex, is cited for its "cultural conservatism". Indeed.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 10, 2002 to Music