Dystopia, "Fuck Tr*mp," and Drunk Eugene Kids
(Originally posted March 31st, 2017)
I don’t know if I believe in protest songs anymore. I really want to believe that a rebellious songwriter and a sing-along crowd can rouse revolution as it perhaps once did before I was born. Don’t get me wrong – I find absolute solace in our folk grandparents like Seeger, Dylan, Aunt Molly Jackson, Hazel Dickens, and the like who continued the dissident folk tradition. I listen to a lot of contemporary punky-political songwriters – many of them from the UK, which only means I need to be better about listening to my Portland homies – who do the same (Chris T-T, Will Varley, Future of the Left, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and I would even put The Doubleclicks in there, because their spirit is as punk as it gets!). But the fact of the matter is, despite protest songs being inspiring symbols of revolution and solidarity, they won’t necessarily bring change, no matter how many times we play them. What could bring change is (without burning everything to the ground and starting over again, which is an option I rather like – but I’m no expert and just another millennial trying to figure out what the hell is going on) constant communication, activism, teaching, and a significant reform of our laws and economic system.
What music can do is travel, carrying messages of a utopian future that we all deserve to experience. I just finished reading The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in thinking about utopia/dystopia and historical theory. What I’m most excited about with our upcoming tours, is the chance to travel and communicate with as many people as possible. I think of touring and singing a bit like being a traveling teacher, one who is given a space and a microphone, and a chance to open up discussion and push people to consider things they maybe wouldn’t have if they hadn’t gone out to our show.
I did write a F*ck Tr*mp song, called “Welcoming in 2017,” that speaks to the idea of being nervous about the future, but the song calls itself out and admits that the song itself won’t change anything – but perhaps the discussion the song brings about will.
I was surprised to see that the song went over really well at our Eugene release show at the Black Forest, with people whooping and hollering and clapping, but it actually didn’t get as great of a response when I sang it to a crowd of activists and thinkers at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland. I’m not sure if I just played it better at Black Forest (maybe the crowd was drunk enough to get rambunctious and mad?) or maybe the folks at the Clinton Street Theater didn’t enjoy the fact that I said music isn’t going to literally change anything. I don’t know, either way, it was a surprising relief that I wasn’t shouted at or punched at the Black Forest, which can be a politically mixed bag of a bar.
Just wanted to shoot that out into the internet. Feel free to comment and get a discussion going, or quietly ponder to yourself… I’m going to get back to work now…