Right-wing mu­si­cians fight for their right to tea party

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

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

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