Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thick As A "Brick"

I want you to check out this list of the "50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs" from John J. Miller, not for its quality, but as an illustration of how a person's perception gets warped from viewing the world through the purely political prism. My beef here is with the inclusion of #23: Ben Folds’s “Brick.” Miller’s description reads:

Written from the perspective of a man who takes his young girlfriend to an abortion clinic, this song describes the emotional scars of “reproductive freedom” [the snarky quotation marks are duly noted, jerk -- JB]: “Now she’s feeling more alone / Than she ever has before. . . . As weeks went by / It showed that she was not fine.”

Yes, the song exudes a plaintive, regretful vibe. Certainly it is no “I’m Every Woman”-style celebration of abortion. But only a fool would argue that the narrator's (or songwriter's) expression of anguish equals a political statement against abortion. It’s an open question as to whether the couple would be better off being forced instead to have the child, isn’t it? And wouldn't it be wise to make the distinction between struggling with a decision in its aftermath and wishing away the legal right to make it?

Calling “Brick” a conservative anthem against abortion is like suggesting that Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” is some liberal plea for gun control. Please, just cut that shit out. Each song tells a tale of personal woe and despair, and perhaps they are cautionary in nature, but the subtexts are scarcely political. Which you'd realize if you actually listened to them with appreciation instead of torturously seeking affirmation of your dreary philosophy.

And I doubt most composers would appreciate your co-opting their work and reducing their artistry to cheap slogans and simplistic interpretations.

So my advice to you, John J. Miller, is: listen to the music. And quit politicizing…EVERYTHING.

11 comments:

Wayne Engebretson said...

Yeah, this John J. Miller seems like quite the pinhead. If it isn't bad enough that the article seems both smug and desperate, Miller's analysis is so fundamentally wrong on some of these songs. As you note, a lot of these songs are personal tales that may be cautionary, but can hardly be construed as political anthems or affirmations. My biggest beef is with his deconstruction of the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again", which points out the biggest flaw of his arguments -- a lot of these supposedly "conservative" values aren't restricted to conservatives. He notes, "The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all." Uh, Mr. Miller--newsflash--every political movement has disillusioned revolutionaries. I think the essence of rock is rebellion against the status quo, no matter who's in power. I would love to see this guy put his money where his mouth is -- I would gladly pay money to see and hear Metallica played at the next Republican rally of any sort. It would last all of 2 seconds. And to be fair, the same could be said of a Democratic rally. Essentially, this article reads as a moron's effort to prove he is not a moron.

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