Dreaming of a Shite Christmas (Song)

How can a pop song about tragedy or politics be anything but trite? Today there was a giant earthquake near Indonesia - 8.9 on the richter scale, and 9000 confirmed dead already. For the last year, iraqi civillians and american soldiers have been killing each other. The allies in WW2 knew about the concentration camps, and did nothing. How could I possibly mould these events into a structure with verses, choruses, rhymes and scansion?

20 years after the original Band Aid single, the song has been rerecorded again. The lyrics are simplistic and full of sugar - "At christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade"..."in our world of plenty...throw your arms around the world". I'm not saying Band Aid and Live Aid were worthless - of course they weren't. I'm just saying that "Feed the world" and "We are the world" aren't much good considered as songs as opposed to fundraising events.

Two Tribes, by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was credited at the time with summing up the cold war mentality. But what is being sung? "When two tribes go to war, one is all that you can score"..."Are we living in a land, where sex and horror are the new gods?". And as for John Denver getting mawkish over a schoolteacher dying in a spaceship, that's just embarassing.

On the other hand, there is a difference between capturing the situation in a soundbite, and wrapping doggeral around it. Faithless make a simple but valid point when they say "Wicked mind is a weapon of mass destruction". Bob Dylan cut through a lot of verbiage with "New boss, same as the old boss".

Songs (especially three minute pop songs) can't present complex political arguments - they can only present the simplest conclusions of those arguments.

"Give peace a chance" says nothing about the causes of war, the arms economy, or the human and economical costs of having your country bombed. It presents the conclusion reached after a lot of thought, not the premises or the reasoning itself.

No comments:

Post a comment