Monday, February 22, 2016

Music For Troubled Times

Ever since Saturday night a feeling of dread has accompanied me. It has to do with Donald Trump winning the South Carolina primary, and the feeling that his candidacy is actually viable.  Right now I must admit that I think he stands a fifty-fifty chance of getting the Republican nomination.  While one would assume that such a large percentage of people dislike Trump and his ideas that he would be destroyed in the general election, stranger things have happened.  A Trump nomination could bring about a Bloomberg third party run, which would sink Clinton or Sanders. If Clinton is the nominee the email scandal could maybe turn into something big.  Basically, it’s a chance I’d rather not take.  And even if Trump does not win the nomination, the fact that so many Americans are behind such a vulgar, fascistic man who appeals to the worst instincts in this country is depressing enough.

On top of all of this we had yet another mass shooting met with a collective shrug this weekend.  Police still get away with murder and the wealthy keep choking off opportunity for others.  I’ve turned to music to salve my soul.  Here’s some songs for these troubled times.

Ray Charles “The Danger Zone”

This is an absolutely beautiful song in its dejection, but one that expresses the dread of living when “the world is in an uproar.”  According to the song, “the danger zone is everywhere.”

Arcade Fire “Windowsill”

This is a song and album I associate very strongly with the Bush years.  It starts with a litany of “I don’t wanna”s before the last, devastating one: “I don’t wanna live in America no more.”  This is a song of disgust at a country gone insane, one I am really feeling right now. “Because the tide is high/ and it’s rising still/ but I don’t want to see it at my windowsill.”

The War On Drugs “Under The Pressure”

This gorgeous song sounds like it comes from an alternate-universe 1980s when the production techniques of the day were slightly toned down and put to use for art’s sake.  It has a wonderful driving quality, which is why I often listen to it while I ride the subway on the way to work, “trying not to crack under the pressure.” 

Bob Dylan "Political World"
The War on Drugs' sound reminds me very powerfully of Bob Dylan circa Oh Mercy, an album that dealt with the broken-ness of the world.  "Political World" puts the point most starkly, speaking of a world where "Love don't have any place/ we're living in times where men commit crimes/ but crime don't have any face."  That just about sums it up, don't it?

U2 "Seconds"

I know it's trendy to knock U2 these days, but we shouldn't lost sight of how great they were in their heyday.  This ominous song came out in 1983, in the midst of renewed threats of nuclear war, the subject of the song.  It's a very pretty song about that lingering fear that the world can be blown up with the push of a button.  Thinking about Trump's finger on that button makes me shudder.

No comments: