Conservative's Top 40
October 5, 2002 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Conservative's Top 40 The list itself might not be perfect, but the concept is interested. What do you think are the greatest conservative (or liberal, for that matter) hits?
posted by oissubke (49 comments total)
posted by oissubke at 8:08 AM on October 5, 2002

Versus Liberal Pop Music. Discuss.
posted by Stan Chin at 8:20 AM on October 5, 2002

And that list shows why no one wanted Jesse Helms to get the microphone on karaoke night at the Senate.
posted by mss at 8:36 AM on October 5, 2002

"My Sweet Lord", in which George Harrison praises Rama Krishna is being claimed by an American conservative?

posted by goethean at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2002

Is it part of conservative dogma that men are more important than women and that the bible is the best thing ever, or does the guy picking music just love those kinds of songs?
posted by mathowie at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2002

I gotta say, the liberal pop music list is worse. It reads like it was written by a 13 year old with a 13 year old's understanding of politics.
posted by mathowie at 8:43 AM on October 5, 2002

Hey, they didn't have MC Hawking's "Why Won't Jesse Helms Just Hurry Up and Die." What gives?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2002

The conservative guy seems to have missed "Wouldn't It Be Good" by the Beach Boys.

You kind of know you wouldn't want to go to a party round his house, don't you?
posted by Grangousier at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2002

"Top 25 Liberty Songs"
posted by dagny at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2002

I was thinking that the conservative pop music list was worse, because it almost seemed to pick things at random because they happened to be nice songs. I love the idea, but wish there was a more accurate list. I'll go hit google and see what I can come up with....
posted by oissubke at 8:49 AM on October 5, 2002

“Love Child” ?

Yes, the protagonist does decide not to have sex, but only because she's living in the crushing poverty described in the lyrics, which may have been something of a swipe at '60's conservatives.

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” ?

He does refer to it as a "crazy" war, but he goes anyway. That probably sums up the feelings of a lot of vets. Other than that it's a love song.

“Sweet Home Alabama” ?

ahem... they wrote Saturday Night Special which decries handguns in graphic terms.

“Revolution” ?

This song decries doctrinaire leftists, but that's not exactly the same as joining Youth for Nixon.

“I Fought the Law”

What?? The ultimate rebel anthem "conservative"? Granted he got caught, but Bobby Fuller definitely sounds like he's gonna raise more hell once he gets out. Considering, the way he died mellowing a bit might not have been a bad idea.

As fro the taxation songs, nobody really likes paying taxes, dude even us left-leaning folks(for the record, I'm a left leaning libertarian) and as far as the religious and patriotic numbers go, you can be a leftist and be patriotic and religious despite what some would have you believe.

In all fairness, oissbuke, it is an interesting idea for a post, but it looks liek the guy went on a fishing expedition. Truth be told, most good rock and roll has a healthy distrust of politics on bith the right and left, but this guy is just reaching.

As Paul Simon said "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

on preview--gangrousier, watch how "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is used in Roger and Me and it hardly seems conservative, but then again context is everything.
posted by jonmc at 8:51 AM on October 5, 2002

and the list dagny linked is dead-on target however. Nice.
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on October 5, 2002

Any tune that makes the baby Jesus smile is all-right by me!
posted by TskTsk at 8:54 AM on October 5, 2002

goethean, there are actually conservatives who defend religious freedom per se rather than simply Christianity. For instance, in the 2000 elections, Republicans were making inroads among Arab-Americans because the family-values messages resonated with religious Muslims. William Safire and a couple of others also made a big stink a while back regarding IIRC a Sikh headdress case.
posted by dhartung at 8:56 AM on October 5, 2002

Given their predilection for covert wheeling and dealing so they can ensure their corporate paymasters the best laws money can buy without exposing themselves to direct and immediate scrutiny, I would guess the GOP's would be humming "Behind Closed Doors" quite alot.
posted by RavinDave at 9:09 AM on October 5, 2002

11. Doobie Brothers, “Jesus Is Just Alright”

What, no "Jesus Just Left Chicago"? What about "You Light Up My Life"?

"My Sweet Lord", in which George Harrison praises Rama Krishna is being claimed by an American conservative?

It's also a song with stolen lyrics (or borrowed, or inspired by, whatever).
posted by kirkaracha at 9:36 AM on October 5, 2002

I have to take issue with the inclusion of the Kinks song, "Sunny Afternoon." It seems fairly obvious, if you read the rest of the lyrics, that Mr. Davies was being ironic/playing a character. Especially when you take into account the lyrics to another Kinks song, "Well Respected Man," which include this slap in the face:

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Come on, now.
posted by sklero at 10:20 AM on October 5, 2002

how about "The Game of Love" by The Mindbenders?

The purpose of a man is to love a woman,
And the purpose of a woman is to love a man...

posted by mcsweetie at 10:23 AM on October 5, 2002


There are a number of good conservatives, such as Ted Nugent [...]


(please note, no diss to the motorcity madman. I saw him open up for Lynyrd Skynyrd in nashville and he put on a helluvashow. maybe.)
posted by mcsweetie at 10:26 AM on October 5, 2002

As soon as I saw the title, I did a quick brain scan and started singing, "I'm Having Your Baby". Spooky. Hope this doesn't mean I'm a conservative at heart.

Aren't you glad you don't live in a time when "The Battle Hymn of The Republic" makes the top pop 40.

The "I Don't Know How To Love Him" inclusion is questionable. Jesus Christ, Superstar was not welcomed with open arms by conservative Christian Groups; it made Jesus a little too human much as Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ" did nearly 20 years later.

This particular song is sung by a prostitute wondering how to "move" Jesus, how to reach him with her feelings of love.

"And I've had so many men before. In very many ways, he just one more."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2002

Kirkaracha: You mean the melody was stolen/lifted, right? We talked about that case in a copyright law class I took to get my (useless) degree in "Recording Industry." It was pretty interesting. Poor George. I understand how he could've unconsciously ripped off that melody. I've written a few songs that, later, to my horror, turned out to have an extremely derivative melody from some song floating around in the back of my head. But you'd think that somewhere along the way someone would've pointed it out to him.
posted by sklero at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2002

God, mathowie, you're right about the liberal music wit:

Queensryche is no doubt one of the most liberal hard rock bands in history. They frequently write songs that speak out against militarism (as in "Empire") and the evils of religion (especially Christianity). One of their albums, "Operation: Mindcrime", expresses a story focusing on the corruption of the U.S. Government, the reality of social classes in America, and the hypocrisy and abuse of the Church.

I can't even laugh at that. Wait, yes I can.

I'd also like to point out that spellcheck suggests a far superior album title: "Operation: Muncie."
posted by sklero at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2002

While the conservative list has some substantial misreadings (see "My Sweet Lord" above), the liberal music list has some fairly tenuous links to reality. It just looks like a left wing group trying to associate with as many celebrities as possible. For example:

Smashing Pumpkins: Although their music is not at all political, I think the Smashing Pumpkins are pretty liberal. They recently played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco, from which a significant portion of the proceeds went to free Tibet from Chinese oppression.

There are a number of reasons to oppose Chinese occupation and not all of them "liberal". They make they mistake of assuming anything outside of White Hetero Protestant culture is in fact, left wing. Combine logical fallacy with some celebrity worship and you get a bad mix tape.

I do find it interesting that the conservative list is mostly culturally conservative. That may be because there are only so many rhymes for "flat tax" and "corporate welfare."

It also relies on selective misreading and ignoring irony, especially when reaching out to the "kids": "Revolution"?! I guess they forgot that great 2nd amendment hit, "Happiness is a Warm Gun."
posted by Verdant at 11:46 AM on October 5, 2002

So where are all the suggestions for the Liberal Top 40?
posted by Hildago at 11:48 AM on October 5, 2002

Smashing Pumpkins: Although their music is not at all political, I think the Smashing Pumpkins are pretty liberal. They recently played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco, from which a significant portion of the proceeds went to free Tibet from Chinese oppression.

Gadzooks. That liberal music list is a fabulous train wreck of a creation -- if there's such a thing as a political fanboy, this page was written by one.

I'm intrigued by both sides claiming Rush in their camp, though apparently from different eras. (I know next to nothing about the band.)
posted by tingley at 11:59 AM on October 5, 2002

This song decries doctrinaire leftists, but that's not exactly the same as joining Youth for Nixon.

Well, that depends which version of 'Revolution' you're talking about: the spoken 'in' that Lennon adds to the album track is there for a purpose.

And yeah, there's a fuckload of irony deficiency here. Context is everything. Most people singing 'Jerusalem' at the Last Night of the Proms consider it a patriotic hymn, which must make the flowers quiver at Blake's grave in Bunhill Fields every September. But when Billy Bragg sang it at the Red Wedge gig on election night in 1997, it meant something else entirely. Though in retrospect, it takes on a different kind of irony.

Oh, and you have to laugh at the inclusion of 'Don't Dream It's Over' in the small print to the libertarian list. Just because it starts 'There is freedom within, there is freedom without' doesn't make it a song about freedom per se. And the line 'My possessions are causing me suspicion / but there's no proof' isn't the sort of thing that would ever slip off a good libertarian's lips. Talk about search engine abuse.
posted by riviera at 12:20 PM on October 5, 2002

My personal fave, actually, would be Fortunate Son by CCR. It has a very special modern-day meaning, I thinks we all thinks.

And where are the Ramones on the liberal list?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:50 PM on October 5, 2002

Last night Dylan sang It's Alright Ma and it was cause for a grin--the first time I saw him was when he came with the Band in the Before the Flood tour, which was right after Watergate and Nixon's resignation--back then the line
Even The President of The United States
sometimes must have to stand naked
got a big scream, as it did last night! Then there's that line in Summer Days--
What good are you
if you can't stand up to some old businessman?
His voice is pretty shot from the singing he's done in concert over the years and his range is limited. He was alternating between croak, croaked yodel and snarl but, man, he did what he could with what he had, meant every word in every song. And his diction was OK, too...

Had a laugh about this, too--that tour with the Band was where the whole crowd holding up lighters thing began--there was a lot of that last night, too. Well, at least, we knew who the stoners were, in these more non-smoking days...

Lame as that liberal long list was, the conservative one is even lamer. Barry Sadler? Yeah, right... They suck, we rule--when it comes to da music.
posted by y2karl at 12:58 PM on October 5, 2002

Rush A Canadian band that is progressive in both their music and their politics. Their song "The Trees" is one of the simplest summations of class oppression ever written

So simple, in fact, that the author of the Liberal Songs page totally misunderstood it.
posted by straight at 1:04 PM on October 5, 2002

Verdant: I do find it interesting that the conservative list is mostly culturally conservative. That may be because there are only so many rhymes for "flat tax" and "corporate welfare."

Oingo Boingo has a great song called Capitalism.
posted by wrffr at 1:23 PM on October 5, 2002

Rush, about class oppression? Heh. Then Ayn Rand must be "progressive" too. Nice!
posted by dagny at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2002

haha, including that rush song is pretty entertaining. that's like misunderstanding kurt vonnegut's harrison bergeron.

maybe someone snuck that in there intentionally?
posted by wrffr at 2:02 PM on October 5, 2002

Isn't anyone going to weigh in on the utter musical bankruptcy of the conservative list? I mean, Christ - "Having My Baby" is just about the worst, most cringe-worthy pop song ever recorded... Charlie Daniels' "In America" is knee-jerk low-rent flag waving at its nadir, and this from a "long haired country boy" in search of another toke... and Neil Diamond? Yvonne Elliman? Lee Greenwood's accompaniment for fireworks?

And the Ballad of the Green Berets?

If this is the music they listen to, no wonder conservatives are so lame/boring.
posted by kgasmart at 3:24 PM on October 5, 2002

The liberal muso list seems to be more of a desperate attempt to look cool by hijacking some innocent rockers lyrics.
RATM a liberal band? Not really in the conventional sense of the word (as in tolerance for other people's views and all that). In terms of political liberalism i'd put them waay down the list.
The idea of the smashing pumpkins as a powerful voice of liberalism is a bit sketchy. Any teenager will tell you they're about absolute despair. and stuff.
posted by Celery at 3:26 PM on October 5, 2002

XQUZYPHYR: And where are the Ramones on the liberal list?

Well, aside from "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg," I'd say the Ramones were pretty apolitical, or ambivalent, at least thematically. Sure, Dee Dee copped to peddling his favors at 53rd and 3rd; the band made a joke of the KKK; they were connoisseurs of household inhalants. But of course few of the lyrics were supposed to be taken at face value; deep down, they were all about common sadnesses, longings, and drives.

The Ramones were revolutionary nostalgists. And I think its pretty hard to put a political label on their emotional impact.
posted by macrone at 5:14 PM on October 5, 2002

WRFFR - Thanks for the Oingo Boingo lyrics. They have a point as well. Liberals can be just as parochial as conservatives.

Macrone - " nostalgists" is a great band name. Also an aspect of some incarnations of fascism, not that it applies to the Ramones or the discussion at hand - but it is an interesting idea.
posted by Verdant at 5:29 PM on October 5, 2002

While one could call the Ramones almost completely apolitical even taking "Bonzo goes to Bitburg" into account, don't forget the Ramones' "Planet Earth 1988", which is explicitly political.

Yes, as you said, it continues of their theme of "common sadnesses [and] longings," but they were concerens of an explicitly political character in that last song.

Of course, once they found themselves going in the direction of such socially conscious type songs as they saw middle age coming upon them, they probably realized it was getting about time to break up. :)
posted by deanc at 5:29 PM on October 5, 2002

Liberal values...hmm.

Candi Staton
Aretha Franklin

Rolling Stones

I'm sure there's many others.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:45 PM on October 5, 2002

Thankfully, Barbra Streisand is on the liberal side, so we on the other side can't lose.
posted by dagny at 1:48 AM on October 6, 2002

I agree with the obvious fumbling on the liberal list. But what really caught my attention was this:

" Dave Matthews Band: This is one of the most multicultural bands you are ever going to see take a stage, with the majority of the band being African-American, including band leader Dave Matthews.

Did I miss something here? The conservative list was a little bit wimpy, I thought.
posted by hama7 at 2:05 AM on October 6, 2002

uh, wow, when I saw the word "conservative" in the topic, I thought: gee, this thread is going to be filled with intelligble, intellectual and well thought out discussion about songs with politcal messages.

I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that any such conversation could turn into a political rally decrying or proselytizing a particular viewpoint.

Therefore, I think this conversation requires a voice of reason, namely me, telling you all what to think. and, uh, you should all think... exactly like me! But, I can't tell you exactly what I think about everything. That would be too easy. :)

You can email me for advice.
posted by stavrogin at 2:24 AM on October 6, 2002

hama7: Dave Matthews was born in Johannesburg, but spent his early childhood in the US before moving back to South Africa. Making him, technically, African-American.
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:12 AM on October 6, 2002

It can be argued that the Sex Pistols' Bodies is not anti-abortion - not a far-out idea, if you know anything much about the insanity that was the Sex Pistols. For gosh's sakes, the lyrics go from one narrator to another. "She sent her letters from the country." She lived in a tree? A tree? People who try to interpret nihilistic songs from anti-establishment punk groups are, it would seem to me, taking too great a chance of barking up the wrong tree.
posted by raysmj at 10:54 AM on October 6, 2002

John Lydon on abortion.
posted by raysmj at 10:58 AM on October 6, 2002

Rush's Neal Peart on "In the Trees." He is asked if there is a message in the song, and answers:

"No. It was just a flash. I was working on an entirely different thing when I saw a cartoon picture of these trees carrying on like fools. I thought, "What if trees acted like people?" So I saw it as a cartoon really, and wrote it that way. I think that's the image that it conjures up to a listener or a reader. A very simple statement."
posted by raysmj at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2002

Graham Parker's "You Can't Be Too Strong" should be on the conservative list.

Kirkaracha: You mean the melody was lifted, right?

Oh, right. I regret the error.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:56 AM on October 7, 2002

kirkaracha: According to the songwriter, "You Can't Be Too Strong," was written while drunk, originally as an uptempo country song. The producer suggested that it be slowed down. In any case, you can't read what his political stance is from the song. Try it. It's not possible. Unless the songwriter makes an unambiguous political statement, I'd say that putting songs in little ideological boxes is a moronic thing to do.
posted by raysmj at 9:15 AM on October 7, 2002

The conservative list does reflect how sad and stilted you become when you look for political thought in pop music. I mean, the Kinks, conservatives? Good political songs are usually good because they *don't* take an immediately obvious ideology and bend it to the song's will. Better Neil Young does this. Bob Dylan's Infidels seemed very pro-Israel to some people, and anti to others, but throughout, he cut much deeper than, say, Peter Gabriel's overt liberalism ever could.

Good straight-out liberal song: The Cheerleaders by the Minutemen.
posted by Bootcut at 12:21 PM on October 7, 2002

Making him, technically, African-American.

Thanks. You learn something new every day. I must admit, I am a little behind on my pop-culture trivia.
posted by hama7 at 12:22 AM on October 8, 2002

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