This chapter took me a lot longer than I thought it would. Even now, I'm still going over ideas that I started reading on Sunday that haven't fully gone into my long term memory, or even been sufficiently synthesized. I got pretty sidetracked by the discussion of Nazi Germany in this chapter. I understand that it was a culture that placed limits on culture in order to limit the dissemination of other cultures within the dominant culture, I just wasn't sure that I understood how all of the elaboration on how music was repressed helped to further my understanding of how politics may be involved in music. It all came down to music can be censored on one level, but with a committed enough community of listeners acting against that censorship, it will still be reach the listening public that cares intimately about it.
I guess the lesson is to caution yourself against censoring music without weighing the exact reasons that you are censoring it. It can't be enough that a song or type of music is 'offensive' to us; that was a nazi reason for outlawing jazz, or at least frowning on it.
Personally the example of censorship I find more relevant than the nazi example (because I think there are many worse things done by the third reich than their treatment of popular music) is the way that occupying British soldiers treated the so called rebel music of the Irish throughout the long and bloody process of Ireland becoming an independent state. Songs like "Kevin Barry" with a staunch Irish Republican message could get citizens arrested or worse. This rebel music also transcended something outlawed merely because it was distasteful, it was outlawed because it represented an idea that allowed a people to reclaim their identity as a nation. It was outlawed because it was seen as a threat to the realm.
"Imagine" may be a fine song to talk about political music when music encourages peaceful ideals that don't require you to fight for your beliefs, but my personal taste for political music tries to find music that is fighting for its right to exist. Growing up in the nineties, there were few bands that really brought that home to me; I enjoyed Rage Against the Machine, but was under no false hope that they stood for some kind of freedom that I as a white suburban teenager needed. I enjoyed Sepultura, Soulfly, and other tribal metal bands from Brazil, but had not experienced the soul crushing poverty that these bands were railing against with their cries for a renewed community. I enjoyed the idea that the Dead Kennedys might be fighting for anarchy, all the while aware that they had collapsed under their own egos in 1986, when i was 2 years old, and that they had not actually fought any battles for their own rights to exist.
I think what I'd like to expose students to is music that cries out to be heard - it's not always angry, it might be as gentle and heartbreaking as Antony and the Johnstons singing about the extreme pain that a transgendered human feels when they come into the world and are told to conform to something that doesn't make sense between their bodies and minds. This is the music that I would like to teach; it doesn't make you as a listener feel good; but it opens that space for communication between the listeners from each community - and that is what Negus intimated at the end of the chapter he wanted to see from non-academic treatment of pop music as something to be taken seriously.
I'll show you the kind of music that breaks my heart - two songs, one I mentioned before called Kevin Barry, the other is an Irish Rebel song that many may have heard Sinead Oconnor sing in the nineties called The Foggy Dew
In Mountjoy jail one Monday morning
High upon the gallows tree,
Kevin Barry gave his young life
For the cause of liberty.
But a lad of eighteen summers,
Still there's no one can deny,
As he walked to death that morning,
He proudly held his head on high.
Just before he faced the hangman,
In his dreary prison cell,
The Black and Tans tortured Barry,
Just because he wouldn't tell.
The names of his brave comrades,
And other things they wished to know.
"Turn informer and we'll free you"
Kevin Barry answered, "no".
"Shoot me like a soldier.
Do not hang me like a dog,
For I fought to free old Ireland
On that still September morn.
"All around the little bakery
Where we fought them hand to hand,
Shoot me like a brave soldier,
For I fought for Ireland."
"Kevin Barry, do not leave us,
On the scaffold you must die!"
Cried his broken-hearted mother
As she bade her son good-bye.
Kevin turned to her in silence
Saying, "Mother, do not weep,
For it's all for dear old Ireland
And it's all for freedom's sake."
Calmly standing to attention
While he bade his last farewell
To his broken hearted mother
Whose grief no one can tell.
For the cause he proudly cherished
This sad parting had to be
Then to death walked softly smiling
That old Ireland might be free.
Another martyr for old Ireland;
Another murder for the crown,
Whose brutal laws to crush the Irish,
Could not keep their spirit down.
Lads like Barry are no cowards.
From the foe they will not fly.
Lads like Barry will free Ireland,
For her sake they'll live and die.
The Foggy Dew
As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound it's dread tatoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew
Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sud El Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew
'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go that small nations might be free
But their lonely graves are by Sulva's waves or the shore of the Great North Sea
Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha
Their names we will keep where the fenians sleep 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew
But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the springing of the year
And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew
Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I'd kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, When you fell in the foggy dew.