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Old-Fashioned Rock & Roll

« May 2006 »

Memo to John J. Miller: NICE TRY, FUCKO.

And you would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for this meddling columnist. It was a valiant attempt to rile us up and piss us off, to waste valuable time decrying you as a moron and pointing out your many errors of commission, omission, and cephalodundery.

But it was just a bit too obvious. A bit too transparent. I've spent enough time on the Internet to know when someone's just trying to piss people off. And you're just trolling for liberals.

Oh, right. Backstory. John J. Miller writes for the National Review Online. The National Review is a right-wing bastion. Miller penned an article listing the 50 greatest conservative rock songs.

I know. The very concept of such a list is almost evidence enough of its fundamentally disingenuous nature. Conservative rock? Conservative viewpoints expressed through a genre known for rebellion and protest? Why, you must be CRAZY to assemble such a list.

Of course, rock is a 60+ year-old money-making institution, and as we all know from observing many people over 60 with a lot of money, most of them don't retain the idealism of their youth. So conservative rock isn't as alien a concept as you think, especially if you expand the definition to include country-rock and Christian rock.

But Miller completely overplays his hand. He goes out of his way to try and co-opt lefty rock icons. Taking things out of context, misreading lyrics, or just exploiting the end of an artist's expressed political spectrum so that, ideally, people like me will write angry columns about Miller's cheek in daring to put Bob Dylan on a list of conservative rock songs.

I mean, I expected to see shit like "Sweet Home Alabama" (#4) or Creed (#47, "One") on the list. That makes sense. Confederate-flag worshippers and really really really really stupid Christians are time-honored members of the conservative base. I didn't know Kid Rock wrote a song called "Abortion" (#49), but I'm not surprised. And including any Kid Rock song on any Greatest Songs list exposes the shallowness of your bench, even if the bench is largely a traveshamockery strawman designed to annoy people.

Then there are the "stretches" - also an important part of maintaining your list's plausible deniability. Songs that are politically unclassifiable claimed as conservative, like Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" (#34), Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (#29), and Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" (#25), a 70's pile of drug-hazed epic fantasy that Miller thinks he gets to claim because the evil overlord is... red. As in Red. As in communist.

But most of the list is just shameful trolling. Any song about abortion! Ben Folds Five? ON THE LIST. Sex Pistols? ON THE LIST. Taxes! The Beatles, ON THE LIST! Cheap Trick, ON THE LIST! Faith! U2, ON THE LIST!

Dylan gets on for the 1983 song "Neighborhood Bully", which, according to Miller, says that Saddam Hussein was bad, something that only true conservatives like Donald Rumsfeld believed in the 80's.

But his most shameful, transparent ploy has got to be the Cold War Gambit. The fake logic being that since Reagan won the Cold War, and Reagan was conservative, anyone who didn't think the Eastern Bloc was a utopia must ergo be expressing a conservative viewpoint. Which leads to some hilarious reading, as seemingly every crap 80's / 90's song that mentions the Cold War gets a nod. Jesus Jones! Living Color! David Bowie! The Scorpions! And Der Fucking Kommisar! The After The Fire version, no less.

All lists like this, in all publications, serve one purpose. To annoy people with what got picked, and to annoy them more with what didn't. So points to Miller for recognizing this and crafting a special list for a special purpose. It's just a pity that, like the cause it purports to represent, Miller's list is so ham-handed, unfunny, and transparent.

Which doesn't mean that a whole bunch of lefties won't fall for it, but idiocy is bipartisan.

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