I like Bright Eyes, I really do. He’s got a tremulous voice. He’s passionate. It comes through in his music. My friend Amy played a song for Stoker and me one night. It was Bright Eyes when he was 13 and he was singing, even then, with a voice full of torment and angst. I don’t remember what he was singing about, but it was funny to hear this youngster anguishing over love or politics or some other abstract subject. Anyway, Amy is an enormous fan and I don’t mean that she’s a large girl. She’s a small chick, but her adoration for Conor is pretty intense. That’s why she had a recording of him singing when he was 13 (he might have been 15, or younger. Like 9. I can’t remember).
I bring up Bright Eyes because I just watched the video of his performance on the Tonight Show. A few weeks ago I went to iTunes and downloaded the song “When the President Talks to God” for free. I listened to it once and haven’t since. The lyrics are cutting and it makes you think. That’s what art should do. Make us think. And political questions are important questions. I’m not against someone asking political questions.
But I’m not so sure how I feel about mixing art and politics. Or how I feel about musicians going on tour to harvest votes from the masses for the political figure they favor. And why would any of us listen to a musician or a movie star? Do they speak louder than my guts? My inclinations? If so, what does that say about me? Easily influenced? Persuaded by flash and rhetoric? They may feel that they’re speaking out against flash and rhetoric, but they’re just another part of the distorted scene.
Sometimes I listen to Mike Savage on the way home from work with Stoker. You might immediately label me a militant conservative, but this would be wrong. I listen to him because he’s clear on his views. He spares no one. Not Bush. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not liberal democrats. Not even himself, if he’s been proven wrong about something. He calls it like he sees it and he doesn’t really change from one day to the next. He doesn’t pander to the press. But I can’t listen to him for very long or else I feel like the world is full of trashy, greedy people and there’s nothing worth living for. I bring Savage up because once, recently, he pointed out the mistake people make by listening to the political opinions of celebrities. Where’s the logic in heeding the advice of Bruce Springsteen over a political expert? There are people who’ve gone to years and years of college, studied political trends and histories, worked in political administrations and seen ethical and unethical situations unfold before their eyes. And yet, we have journalists who go to Oliver Stone and ask him what he thinks about Bush’s re-election (see Rolling Stone*).
I just wanted to bring up a few issues to clarify a the following points.
1) I like Bright Eyes music. I don’t like listening to him slander the President. Even if I don’t agree with all of Bush’s policies. Even if I think he’s lied to us. Where was Bright Eyes when Bill Clinton lied? I’m sick of listening to a bunch of babies whine about politics in their music. If they think they’re not part of a certain propaganda in the press, they’re disillusioned.
2) I like Bright Eyes’ music. I think he’s taking the wrong angle in his song, though. What he should acknowledge in his music is that every individual on earth, if they practice any form of religion, believes in their cause and that God somehow supports their cause. Is everyone in the world wrong to believe that God loves them and supports their cause, loves them in spite of their mistakes? I don’t know. But Bright Eyes would probably like to believe that God loves him even when he does something awful, like when he stole candy from the convenience store as a 9-year old**.
3) Bright Eyes, if he doesn’t like it here, should go live in a country where he’d get his tongue cut off for bad mouthing the dictator he’s forced to like. Maybe he forgets that the right he has to sing about whatever he wants in this country has been protected by soldiers who, while they may be poor farm boys, still don’t feel appreciated (be it WWII veterans or soldiers in the Middle East now) when he sings a bitchy song like the one he’s pushing all over the media. Or, if you feel you must sing about your political opinions, disguise it with abstractions. Like abstract art. Like Guernica.
4) I really love Saddle Creek. I don’t want anyone who reads this page to think that I support mixing politics and art, though, just because I have a link to their page on my blog. It's just as I said, I like Bright Eyes. But politics are mixed up and confusing and I don’t want to know what he thinks about Bush, Republicans or animal rights. I don’t even want to know what the people I work with think about Bush. Or Republicans.
*You may ask, “Rolling Stone?” I was on a flight to D.C., it was a fluke. I don’t really read Rolling Stone because it’s Trash.
**I made that up.