Now that Lil' Bush has shuffled off the Presidential coil - or will in a couple of hours, anyway - and heads off into some Dallas burg to write his memoirs and reflect on his two wild and strange terms as Commander in Chief, it seems that the writers of so many protest songs can call off their guns and put their grudges to bed. With an artist-friendly liberal president in Barack Obama, what will come of all the anger and poison that helped so many musicians write protest anthem after protest anthem?
Will we retreat into an era of feel good jams and lite-rock tunes about the beach and the female of the species? Historically, it looks like we are in for a Clintonian-era drought of saccharine proportions. During the eight years in the happy-go-lucky Arkansas president's reign, we saw the rise of introspective songwriters, angsty grungers, and the first waves of the late-'90s teen-pop empire. Musicians had to invent things to be pissed off at like the grunge kids did, or, like Henry Rollins and Rage Against the Machine, find obscure causes like the West Memphis 3 or Leonard Peltier to champion.
Against Me!, "From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)"
For the past eight years. we have seen artistic revolt and vitriol whose only precedent was the Vietnam War or, to a lesser extent, the Reagan administration. The Vietnam War gave us the MC5, Woodstock, the Chambers Brothers, and a whole generation of folky protest hymns. Reagan gave us an entire scene of pissed-off, pissed-on hardcore kids painting swastikas on Reagan's face while touring VFW halls across the country.
Bruce Springsteen, "Devils and Dust"
What's on the horizon for a nation full of expectant hope and renewed governmental trust? What will happen to people like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello, who have seemingly carved out an entirely new image for themselves in the anti-Bush world we are just now waking up from? The Boss' new album, Working on a Dream, seems to be heading in a more hopeful direction than he had been recently. But that's not all good. He has a song on the new record about being in love with a supermarket checkout girl. Yikes!
Bright Eyes, "When the President Talks to God"
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It's been a strange eight years of piss and rage. Almost every avenue of the music industry was touched by the Bush regime. Even country artists who normally stay out of politics took sides, with Toby Keith becoming an unlikely Bush basher along with the Dixie Chicks and their 2003 firestorm of a concert in England. What will be the new beef for our Obama-fied world?
Beastie Boys, "In a World Gone Mad"
Will it be the shitty economy shoving little bands off the road and keeping behemoths inside sports arenas to charge a Franklin or more for two bands? Or will it be the endless war in the Middle East now being inherited by the Obama administration? Maybe gay rights will see a renewed fervor of interest.
One thing is for sure, though. Green Day can go back to singing about jerking off now. If they feel like it.