Carter: Music and Change

Music and Change

Richard Carter

 

There’s always been some sort of protest involved in playing or listening to rock music. I mean, what band or music listener doesn’t see their parents as hopeless squares that want to stop them from having fun, or perhaps having too much fun? And even if their parents don’t actually do that, there are still plenty of people who want to hear bands sing about such things.

The whole teenage rebellion easily dates back to the ‘50s. That protest spread further in the ‘60s when music got political with the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and so forth. By the time the punk movement hit in the late ‘70s, sensationalized bands like the Sex Pistols were singing songs about anarchy and tunes against the English Monarchy, though often times it looked like they were just trying to shock people. They did not put out an album called “The Great Rock ‘N Roll Swindle” for nothing.

But, there were plenty of other English bands in the ‘70s and later American bands and French and German and Australian and so forth who were starting to seriously address what they saw to be political, social and economic inequalities. Whether they were just playing punk to sell records (a sort of oxymoron) or they were revolting against the status quo kind of depended on the band.

By the ‘90s, it seemed like the whole punk thing had become a meaningless sort of phase most kids seemed to go through. Whether they were genuinely angry about something serious or just upset that their parents were not giving them two Xboxes or whatnot.

But considering the last 70 years of anti-establishment pop music in Western Europe and America, it’s particularly hard to imagine anyone ever being arrested and going to court or punished for writing lyrics critical of leaders or the government or their culture.

That said, two members of a Russian punk band were sentenced to harsh work camps this week for music critical of the present Russian leader. The band had also gone into a church and asked the Virgin Mary to free themselves of said leader. It’s kind of scary to think that a single act like that could lead to two people being sentenced to hard labor many miles away from their children and families.

Yet, whatever international protest there has been against the judgment against the two punks has pretty much fallen on deaf ears.

It’s hard to imagine any band would risk their lives to play music to change something. For the record, the women in Russian were not recording that music or selling it.

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