Right-wing musicians fight for their right to tea party
FROM THE coffee shops of Greenwich Village to the main stages of today’s biggest music festivals, popular music still marches to that counter-cultural beat. Doesn’t matter how many trout farms you own, how many corporate shills you’ve done or who you really vote for at the ballot box, you must observe those counter-cultural pieties even if they run counter to everything you hold dear, and all you’re really worried about is a change in the top tax rate.
From No Nukes to Free Mandela, Greenpeace to Amnesty, Rock against Racism and now, hectoring about carbon footprints, rock music has long been welded to a certain fuzzy, lefty, neo-hippy political mindset. And even though your power, wealth and influence as a musician means you are now The Man, you still rail against The Man, because doing so oils the wheels of your fans’ expectations and desires.
Conservativism and neo-liberalism simply don’t get a foot in the record company door unless attached to a certain type of country music performer – or Ted Nugent. The latter was last heard of when at a recent show he referred to Hilary Clinton as a “worthless bitch” and Barack Obama as a “piece of shit” before holding up what appeared to be an assault rifle and saying he told Obama “to suck on my machine gun”.
Nugent, though, represents the outlaw right wing in music terms and is very much out there on the margins. What is emerging with a real force in the US, however, is “Tea Party Music” where rock musicians are finally engaging with the right-wing agenda.
They’re tapping up a new and fervent fanbase – usually baby-boomer types long ago alienated by rock’s liberal, bleeding-heart sentiments.
These Tea Party musicians (such as Krista Branch with I Am America, Jeremy Hoop with Rise Up – dedicated to “all American patriots” – and many others) have been galvanised by the emergence of the Tea Party political pressure group. In simplistic terms, the Tea Party are anti-Obama and pro-Palin – they’re a type of Republican Party with attitude.
For a certain generation, these musicians are their Dylan, Joni Mitchell etc. They sing about “reclaiming” the US from the Democratic movement and lyrically get quite specific about Obama administration policies such as the stimulus package and healthcare reform.
And these aren’t banjo-playing rednecks, this is MTV-friendly music – slick, well-produced and eminently chartable. But such is the fear of the music industry’s antipathy to right-wing music that some of the Tea Party musicians remain “closeted”.
Consider the case of Tea Party poster boy Jon David, whose American Heart song is much loved by Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. He always performs wearing a large baseball cap and a dark pair of sunglasses.
Jon David is in fact Jonathan Kahn, a Hollywood scriptwriter, who has only recently “outed” himself. His fear for a long time was that he would lose his career in Hollywood because of his political associations: “Being a conservative is the kiss of death there.”
Now that he’s out and proud, he sings his heart out on anthems about cutting taxes and shrinking government.
David/Kahn is a totemic figure for the Tea Party movement – almost a Harvey Milk type if you like. Conservative websites and bloggers laud him for “throwing off the shades and fighting the good fight” and openly talk about “many other right-of-centre sleeper agents all over Hollywood who should declare themselves and try to reclaim a piece of the
Hollywood/ pop-culture pie for pro-American and pro-liberty ideals”.
In many ways this is beyond bizarre. That a group of politically motivated musicians are so frightened by the left-liberal entertainment “elite” that they are now using the international language of struggle and oppression. A right-wing Stonewall is coming – and a Hard Right is Gonna Fall.
Right said Ted:
Nugent’s Republican rock