Like almost everyone in the U.S. for the past few months, I’ve been pelted with political calls, commercials, mailers, and e-mails from candidates, “concerned citizens,” and the like to get out and vote and support or oppose a whole host of ballot initiatives. (If you live in California, you know what I’m talking about on the ballot-initiative side of things.) But this year people are getting more creative in their use of the Internets, and I’ve been treated to Saul Williams doing a four-minute impassioned poem about his support for Obama and a one-hour DJ mix that weaves speeches by former presidents and Obama into a pretty good groove. However, politics, like life, is full of contradictions, and that’s why I wanted to do a mix that is kind of all over the place.
“America, Fuck Yeah,” Team America
I bought this soundtrack before I saw the film and was rolling when I first heard some of the songs. To my surprise, the film wasn’t as funny as the music, so before you put your copy of Team America: Wold Police into your DVD player, take a few moments and savor the genius of “America, Fuck Yeah.” And for an added contrast, enjoy the “Bummer Remix”; after all, bombast can’t last forever. Eventually, what goes up must come down …
“America, Fuck Yeah (Bummer Remix)” (Download)
“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” the Who
Written in 1971 by Pete Townshend, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” has become a timeless message for those who, despite the excitement surrounding them during political campaigns, are still suspicious of all the talk of change and progress. Bracketing all that just for a moment, however, I want to remind you of the obvious: Keith Moon is in awesome form on this track.
“Invisible Sun,” the Police
In the UK this was actually the first single off Ghost in the Machine (1981), and due to the subject matter of “tensions in Northern Ireland,” the BBC decided to ban the video — which helped propel the single to the number-two position on the charts. Reading the lyrics, however, the song isn’t overtly political; it’s singling out the British government, but it certainly isn’t the stuff first singles are made of.
“Empire,” Dar Williams
Don’t let the CD cover fool you: this song is quite a critique of President Bush, American foreign policy, and those who overlook the horror of it all. And yes, I know Williams sounds like Suzanne Vega …
“Men in a War,” Suzanne Vega
Despite the fact that the title of this song leads you believe that it is indeed about men in a war, the lyrics are much more oblique. And to confuse the matter more, the music has a jaunty feel that makes you want to dance — until you start to pay attention to what Vega is singing.
“Political Science,” Randy Newman
I was originally going to use a clip of John McCain doing one of his greatest hits from the campaign trail: “Bomb Iran.” However, I think Randy Newman captures McCain’s sentiment much better in this 1972 piece of satire. Hey, I told you these songs would be all over the place!