There is nothing I like more in this world than seeing someone speak out against war, injustice and oppression. I appreciate it even more when the person speaking out is of higher social standing.
If I speak up and shout I have no mechanism in which I can connect to the general public unless I’m at a protest with hundreds of people like me. If I were a famed musician, actor or writer on the other hand I could potentially inspire millions with just a few well spoken words.
In this day and age it’s getting harder and harder to find people of status willing to speak out against anything in fear of what ever repercussions there might be. With the media the way it is in the 21st century there is always that fear of losing a contract or sponsor, being falsely labeled, or being ostracized by whatever social club you belong to. Nowhere is this clearer to me than in the music industry.
Back in the sixties it was hard to find any artist or musician who didn’t speak out against the establishment in some way, against war, about civil rights or other social issues. These were rich, cream of the crop artists like John Lennon, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan or Neil Young. None of them were afraid to speak their mind in spite of what they had to lose.
When I was just another lonesome teenager in the eighties most of those artists were gone or at least off the radar to teenagers. The first song I remember falling in love with was “we’re not gonna take it” by Twisted Sister. While that song might sound cheesy to some, it spoke to me, a nine year old with a plastic record player.
From there I went on to mostly underground music as the mainstream had absolutely nothing intelligent to say. How often have you heard someone say that Madonna or Mariah Carey really added something to their lives? So I listened to Anthrax, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, Ice T and Public Enemy to name a few. All these musicians helped me to inform and educate myself in order to make me the rebel that I am and still strive to be to this day.
Currently, more than twenty years later, it’s gone from bad to worse. With lawyers and accountants running most giant record companies it’s almost impossible to find any musical act underground or otherwise who really speak out against the man. Hip Hop is all “crime rhymes”, while Rock & Pop music is still “pussy and beer”.
With all the major problems we have in society today such as the environment, multiple wars and the economy you would think more musicians would be lining up to say something intelligent and meaningful. Even artists with independent labels don’t seem to speak up as much.
I’m just guessing, but I think it’s out of fear, either by the record companies or the artists themselves. Scared of their image or what it might do to their sales so they cower away from controversy. There are exceptions of course like System of a Down, the Dixie Chicks and Neil Young (still going strong). These artists have guts, but they are few and far between. The more people like this we have with an audience, the more we can stop dancing like everything is okâ€¦ and start shouting (we’re not gonna take it!)