Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Music and Meaning

I made a reference a few posts ago to the Playlist of a Wife Beater. I wanted to qualify what I meant since I don't take violence against women lightly. On Monday evenings I pass Menswork on my way home. This is a court mandated program for men who have been abusive towards their wives or partners. I see them outside their building, smoking as the sun goes down. I thought of the playlist after listening to WCYY and heard what I describe as angry white male music. Sometimes they play good stuff, but other times it is pointless and loud. Sometimes it's good to be loud, but not pointless. Listen to Rage Against the Machine. They had an agenda. One thing I've noticed is that in these times of dumbed down politics, war and apathy, the music has become really angry. Most of it is thematically about relationships, and can span musical genres and eras. I'm thinking of:
Taking Back Sunday's "Make Damn Sure"
The Beatles' "It's Getting Better All the Time"
BNL's "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank"

They're singing about some pathologically angry men, who want to gut, kill, or are trying to recover from being bastards to their girl.

Then there is the familial angst:

Everclear's "Father of Mine"
Ani Difranco's "Angry Anymore"

Of course, then there is the personal relationship angst from the female point of view. My favorites include:

Rachel Yamagata's "Worn Me Down"
The Clash's "Train in Vain"

"Train in Vain" can go either way, since Annie Lennox sang it too. I like both versions, but since I had a crush on Joe Strummer, I prefer the earlier version. After Tim died I felt a lot of failure, like I had let him down somehow. Then I listened to Joe Strummer and Mick Jones sing "You didn't stand by me, no not all." Somehow I knew that you can blame yourself, or blame others, and maybe it's a little bit of everyone's fault. I learned this from L. Logically to me that cancels the blame from everyone. If I didn't learn from it then I wouldn't be writing about it here.

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