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From: Chalkhills <>
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #11-42

         Chalkhills Digest, Volume 11, Number 42

                  Tuesday, 9 August 2005


                     Re: Pop Politics
The Return of the Sorely Missed Chocolate Brown Ass-Pants
                       Naming Names
                    meet the new boss
          Surface Songwriting and 'These People'
                     POP GO THE KAB!


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Wash your feet / And with spotless dharma come complete.


Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2005 00:33:56 -0400
From: "Jason Damas" <>
Subject: Re: Pop Politics
Message-ID: <010b01c59a40$0fa42fd0$0302a8c0@JASON>

<< I won't go on (as much I'd like to).
XTC did politics in their art and they did it well... they just tip
toed from specifying names and places.>>

And this is why I think their politically-themed songs are so well done. Too
much specificity makes the songs sound dated---just think of how we'll
regard, say, the last Beastie Boys album, laden with explicit anti-Bush
speech, in 20 years? Being about specific events but not "naming names" as
it were means that the songwriters are forced to use more clever wordplay
and reach for bigger themes that may (sadly) become relevent again. I agree
with all those who said that XTC's politicized lyrics are quite good. --J


Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2005 06:59:58 -0700
From: Wesley Hanks <>
Subject: The Return of the Sorely Missed Chocolate Brown Ass-Pants
Message-ID: <>


Satellite tv raconteurs Direct TV is now carrying the Logo Channel
(Channel 263). The channel has just begun airing "Wonderfalls",  an
excellently written, acted and directed show that was never given a
chance by the stunningly idiotic programming executives at Fox. I
think they broke the land speed record for how fast they cancelled it.

Oh, and a certain pub-rocker performs the opening theme song.

Las Vegas


Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2005 16:54:15 +0200
From: "don device" <>
Subject: Naming Names
Message-ID: <001201c59a96$b723dd40$a43e4251@computer>


Whilst I agree that most political music (by this I mean PROTEST music,
mostly, I guess) dates badly, this tends to be from being too specific. I
find XTC to be quitye a political band, although I'm not sure I'd consider
'Melt the Guns' so political, lumping rather uneasily into the 'All You Need
is Love' school of politics, ie 'Don't kill people', 'Love Each other',
'Open Your Eyes', etc...

They DO name names however; 'Gaddaffy Duck propelled from Jimmy Swaggart's
tommy gun.... but it seems mostly abstract to me, and so much the better...

One of the only 'Political' singers not to have been dated adn destroyed
shiva-style by the changing times was Mr Bob Dylan, precisely because he
kept the images and ideas on an abstract level 'A Change is Gonna Come',
etc... You always got the idea you knew what he was singing about, but in
the end...

Blowing, or rather turning slowly in the wind,


Date: Sat, 06 Aug 2005 09:31:11 -0700
From: "Pastula Aaron" <>
Subject: ...must...resist...
Message-ID: <BAY24-F1FE76A292203DC9F20D91A2C60@phx.gbl>

Simon said:

>I can respect another's beliefs and admire their convictions upon the
>condition that they don't see their beliefs as having any more validity
>than my own...

Well, why on earth do we have opinions and preferences, if not because we
think there is a better, more preferable way of thinking or doing things?
At its core, this statemement makes no sense -- you will only respect my
opinions on condition that I admit that my outlook on the world really is no
better than yours; therefore, my opinions and convictions are automatically
inferior to yours, in your eyes, because you will simply discount them
unless I admit that they really have no intristic value that makes them more
preferable to *your* worldview (and I would never do that, because if I did,
then what would be the point of choosing them as my beliefs and

What you're advocating is basically like Lance Armstrong saying he'll only
enter the Tour de France if everyone agrees not to pull ahead of him.

>Can anyone name a song they love
>but violently disagree with the lyrics?

"Mayor of Simpleton."  I mean, who does that guy think he is, anyway??  What
a loser.  :)

Seriously, I answered that question when my XTC tribute band did a
*kick-ass* version of "Melt the Guns" that was passionately sung (and has
always been loved) by yours truly, a card-carrying member of the NRA and
someone who thinks Andy has it all wrong when it comes to gun culture in
the USA.

Top o' the morning,



Date: Sun, 07 Aug 2005 00:52:20 -1000
From: Jim Smart <>
Subject: meet the new boss
Message-ID: <>

 Simon asks about liking songs we differ with politically. I'm not
 aware of much right wing music, so it's hard to say. I've heard
 "Proud to be an American" (who hasn't?), and I know that an awful lot
 of folks like Toby Keith. Can't stand Nugent, ... hmmm what else is

I love the way Green Day's "American Idiot" is the perfect use of punk
pop anger. Something to shout about! Something to be angry about! I
love it, but so does my right winger friend. So maybe he's your
example of someone liking something he doesn't agree with.



Date: Sun, 07 Aug 2005 17:51:55 +1000
From: "Simon Knight" <>
Subject: Surface Songwriting and 'These People'
Message-ID: <BAY18-F153EFE927D04074C87A96FD0B90@phx.gbl>

With knuckles up, I posted:

>What exactly are these people surmising from 'Dear God', 'Books are
>Burning', 'Beating Of Hearts', 'This World Over', 'Here Comes President
>Kill Again' and 'Melt The Guns', to name but a few examples?

To which Aaron replied:

>It's statements like this that make me chuckle when people say that *I'm*
>the one who's close-minded...

And he followed with a succinct statement as to how he interprets Andy's
work against his own political framework.  This is a good thing, for I
simply could not understand how one could listen to XTC and yet make an
inflammatory statement regarding `Superior Firepower', especially in our
current climate, and when I know people's who's lives have been destroyed by
war.  I personally apologise, Aaron, and thank you for point of view, but I
strongly disagree.

In that spirit, I offer my point-of-view, and then will shut up on the

We must hear music very differently, for songwriter's *can* touch all the
areas you describe, at least *to me*.  They can comment on society and
document history, they can teach us about matters political, they can be
diplomatic and wax philosophical.  As trite as I personally find the lyrics
to `Imagine' by John Lennon, a large majority of the population seems to
find something of value in the sentiment of that song.  Listen to some folk
fields recordings during the great depression and tell me that the singers
aren't singing some inherent truth about their lives.  Try some 60's folk
and hear how people are still yearning for change and action against
injustice.  Can they cause change?  Witness the rise of causes like
Greenpeace, Live Aid and Amnesty International in the 80's.

Andy is a great songwriter, and has been all the things you listed in song.
He makes clear his political viewpoints, (`Melt The Guns', `Human Alchemy',
`Books Are Burning'), he sings of different religious practices, (`Dear
God', `Church Of Women', `Easter Theatre', `Green Man'), is the diplomat in
both the literal sense, (`Knuckle Down'), and in his choice of lyrics of
accepting responsibility, (`The Wheel And The Maypole'), or by couching his
personal problems in metaphor, (`Dear Madam Barnum').  As a historian, he
documents both time, (`This World Over'), and place (`The Everyday Story of
Smalltown').  I can't stress enough how much I became aware of history as a
teenager simply by listening to XTC and wondering what a `Never-Never Navvy'
was, or looking up `Miracle Play', `Edward Lear', or `Fox Talbot'.  The
delight of recognising `Always Winter, Never Christmas' as being a CS Lewis
reference, or the discovery of Bosch through `The Garden Of Earthly

Now I'm not saying I learnt everything I needed to know from just one song.
He wasn't just throwing his lyrics out there to be taken at face value.  I
acted and reacted to the information he fed me, and would investigate what I
was hearing.  This is what great songwriters do- they give more than just
the song:  they convey information and let you discover more about the world
than you knew previously.  (Not counting the musical links they forged).
For example:

REM led me to `Walden' and William Faulkner
10,000 Maniacs led me to Jack Kerouac, The Great Depression and Western
David Bowie led me to William Burroughs and Christopher Isherwood
Kate Bush led me to Wilhelm Reich, Harry Houdini and Emily Bronte
Talking Heads led me everywhere!

Whilst I was taking this all in, my music classmates were listening to Bon
Jovi's `You Give Love A Bad Name' and Poison, and sneered at me for bringing
copies of `Stop Making Sense' and `The Dreaming' into class - ("What is this
poofta music?").  I'm a better educated person, and have a wider worldview
simply by listening to great songs by great artists.  Songs that made me
*think*, put forth by people who had carefully considered their lyrics and,
most importantly, *believed* in what they were singing.  If songs were
simple musings, why would they bother putting them out there, unless they
really had nothing to say.

It still happens.  I'd never heard the phrase `Axis Mundi', (theology
again!), until the last XTC record.  Thank you, Andy for making me
continually curious about the world.

As to the `These People' comment:

I used the phrase `these people' knowing full well the inflammatory nature
of what I was saying, and the blind generalizations it suggests.  I was
intentionally lumping you in with Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter et al, under
the banner of right wing extremity, seeing you as one faceless group, with
the actions of a few within that group speaking for all of you.

Dehumanising, isn't it?  Now imagine you're in a group that's marginalized
within society and regularly has that phrase used against you by uninformed
speakers like Ingraham preaching messages of hate, looking for anywhere to
lay the blame but at their own feet, for throughout history it's Always
Someone Else's Fault.

You look at yourself and wonder why they're saying these things about you
when they bear no relation to the realities of your everyday life.  If
you're in a position of power and privilege within society, it might be
hard, even impossible, to understand, and easier to be glib.  (As Laura
Ingraham says American = white, southern, Christian, and Republican, though
she pointedly left wealthy off the list).  But say you're poor and
uneducated, like my grandfather, or marry outside your class and religion,
like my grandmother, or have the good sense to leave an abusive husband but
are labelled a divorcee, like my mother, or happen to be born gay, like me?
How can the sum of our life experience be boiled down to one category?

Most of us are powerless.  The simple act of creating Songs, Novels, and Art
can be our Voice, since we don't want to resort to guns, bombs and violence
to get our point across to those put in a position of power over our lives
by basically having what amounts to as familial, financial, educational and
class advantage over us, (for America has a class system however much it
tries to deny it).  Otherwise we are lumped into categories of blame for Why
Things Aren't Better, and told exactly how we're living our lives wrong, and
legislated against.  (I hope you're lucky or privileged enough to never have
experienced discrimination and can't relate).

Knuckles Down,

p.s.  It's ironic that the original post that accussed the Chalkhills list
of being inflammatory actually *sparked* this political debate, otherwise
I'm sure no-one would have commented further.


Date: Mon, 08 Aug 2005 10:38:05 +0100
From: stevesomerset <>
Subject: POP GO THE KAB!
Message-ID: <>


Over the past few weeks I have been busy here in Camden recording new Shadow
Kabinet tracks. Although the next album is not due for a while you can hear
a brand new song on  Saturday13th August. It's called 'The Strings Of Her
Sitar' and you can catch it  on Alan Haber's Pure Pop Show on WEBR. The show
goes out at 1pm Virginia time and 5pm in the UK. The rest of you will have
to work out your time zones. The track is a jangly guitar fest for summer
complete with Mellotron flutes. To listen go to...

Plus I'm very excited to have been asked to be a guest presenter on Alan's
internet version of the Pure Pop Show on 365 I'll be recording a
hour special soon and spinning some of my favourite tunes as the first of
Alan's guest DJ's. I'll let you know when it's going out.
Here's the link to all things Pure Pop...

And here the link to Alan Haber's Pure Pop on

All the best
Steve Somerset
The Shadow Kabinet


End of Chalkhills Digest #11-42

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