"Bold and brilliant," is what I heard over the Borders overhead as the CD started. A band I had never heard of, "The Decemberists." Lots of harmonica, lots of guitar, something that I would have fallen in love with anyway. People call The King is Dead album "Dylanesque," and they're so right about that. Folk music is, after all, about taking a stand, and this album does it. "This is Why We Fight," a track at the end of the album says, "And when we die, we will die, with our arms unbound." All this right before a moving song about his autistic son. There is no better music (and hip-hop artists will disagree with me) to deliver vehement statements about the world we're living in than folk music. The Decemberists stand fast, and proudly defy all the injustice in this world, and it's so much more than other artists, those that disrupt award ceremonies, or those that sing about money and fame and love and sex, none of them can fill that hole... a desire to stand up against the wrongs in this world, to have some power when so many of us feel powerless.
It's not something that I take lightly, those who can stand for a cause, no matter what side of the political isle you're on. Those who have a voice and can use their talents to be heard, when sometimes just a vote (as so many political pundits say is the most powerful voice) is not enough. And then there are those with money, of which I most assuredly am not, who can influence the world with capital, and that is effective, but quiet. The people who can spread messages through song and speech, through words and poetry, they are the ones that can influence people well beyond the political cycle.
And it's odd that I would say all this, as I am definitely Conservative, decidedly Libertarian, and occasionally Republican when I go to the ballot boxes. Those people that see the Republicans as some massive white, rich, heartless group of men (mostly), would think that my love of Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Crosby Stills, and Nash; would run counter to my ideologies. It is in fact quite the opposite.
Conservatives choose to stand for causes, but they are quite lacking in the ability to put a voice to it. The Republicans are equally, if not more, inept at putting anyone in the spotlight that has any ability to stand for anything. Just looking at the CPAC meetings this week will tell you that. The person who is leading in National polls (read, the ones made by all the mainstream media that have already crowned Hillary as the next Democratic Candidate, because they all have their ducks in a row, while the Republicans are akin to cannibalistic hyenas) is Jeb Bush, who while speaking during the meeting, was met with a walkout and blasted by most of the other speakers. And so this, and Mitt Romney, and John McCain, and Bob Dole (we can go back that far) are the candidates that the mainstream people have given the opponents of liberalism to vote for. And none of them had voices, at all, to speak about anything. The VP candidates who could speak were silenced or denigrated into headline jokes on late night talk shows.
There's no cultural fervor about the Conservative movement at all. Sure, the Christian social conservatives are going to vote as a block, and have plenty of music and speakers to give their point of view. And that's well and good... I enjoy some of it. The music and speeches that are intelligent, thoughtful, and non-hypocritical of everyone (yes, I know everyone speaks of Christians as being hypocrites, and there is obviously some truth to this, or it wouldn't be so easily proved). Take a look at any of Mark Lowry's performances to see exactly what I enjoy that comes from the Christian world. It's no wonder that I say I'm "Libertarian," when Facebook asks me my Religious beliefs. It's all about my personal, individual relationship with God. For that, I need no other church telling me what to believe or what is evil or wrong in this world. God does that quite nicely.
But I've digressed from what I really wanted to talk about. I'll get back to it eventually. What I value in the music of the Folk music movement of the 60's, or The Decemberists, or of people like Mark Lowry in the Christian world, is the ability to stand up and say "This is what I believe in. It's something that very few people do nowadays. We are too busy being afraid of who we might offend to stand up and defend anything. We think those that have a cause must be those who are victimized, or those who are clearly crazy. And those who stand for something have either Love or Hate in their hearts. You can stand with the rainbow flag on one side, or the flag of ISIS (or, unfortunately, those of Westboro Baptist Church) on the other. Those in the middle, every day citizens who live and love and work, they are just busy trying not to stand, lest they be labelled an extremist about something. Why can't we just stand up and say, "I am a human being, and I love this world where I live, and I love the people in it." ? Isn't that what God said is half of His greatest commandment?
If the Conservative movement, Christians and non-Christians alike, could stand up and say that, and put all other differences aside (for having irreconcilable differences is exactly what opponents of Conservatism would like nothing better than us to have), that would make all the difference, no matter who we elected President. But I dare say that this can't happen, not in the polarizing, white/gold dress- blue/black dress world we live in today.
This was not supposed to be a post on political ideology, or religion, or anything close. I was trying to review The Decemberists' latest album, which I never even got around to. But nevertheless, I'll let this one stand, and try again in a few days. Let March (now that's convenient, a term of standing and acting) take that review, and let February, known for love and introspection toward times when people had to stand up for their rights, take this one.
(During this album period, I think Colin Meloy looked a ton like my dad. My mom didn't think so, but with those glasses and that shirt, he very much does.)