Debunking the "50 greatest conservative songs", Final Thoughts

Now that we have completed debunking the, “Top 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs”, it is time for us to look at what this all means. The following are the thoughts and comments of all of the contributors.

Since it’s birth, rock and roll has always been controversial. Whether it was Elvis shaking his hips on television, The Beatles claiming that they are, “bigger than Jesus”, Ozzy biting a head off of a dove, or Marilyn Manson scaring the living crap out of parents – the very same parents who listened to Alice Cooper just decades prior. Rock and roll has shaped the nation and changed the cultural landscape. But it’s not only the outrageous stage acts that have created the controversy – it has been the message. Throughout its life, rock and roll has spoke to generations about social injustice, war, the establishment, and truth. Some messages are subtle and some aren’t. You hear the message in the songs from the 60’s with Motown and the Vietnam War era and you hear the same message today. Rock and roll speaks volumes about equal rights, peace, and the environment. It’s in the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival about Vietnam, it’s in the songs of Marvin Gaye about being treated as equals, you hear it with Peter Gabriel speaking out about a man named Biko who was sent to prison just for speaking out against apartheid, in punk rock with class divisions, and even today with many artists who believe what Bush and company is doing is wrong.

There are two cultural phenomena’s that the conservatives have yet to control. One is the Internet and they found the power of the Internet in the 2004 election when Democrats were raising more money, five and ten dollars at a time through grassroots contributions. They saw the power of the blogs to spread the truth on candidates and spread information they do not want you to know about. The conservatives missed the boat on the Internet revolution and are rapidly trying to catch up.

The other is rock and roll. Rock music has always conveyed a message of dissent which is directed toward the establishment. And, who is the establishment nowadays? It’s the conservatives.

My belief is that this list that was put together half-heartedly by John J. Miller is their poor attempt at trying to get a little control over this area of pop culture that they have yet to control. By stating that a song, or an artist is conservative is their attempt to get people to believe that many of these artists and songs reflect conservative values. This is certainly not true, as we have proved over the past few weeks.

The reason I say that it is a half-hearted attempt is simple. If you read the article by Miller, you will find that very little research went into the selection and if they thought about it at all, they would find that many of the artists do not share their view, whatever that view may be. You see it in what Miller writes or fails to writes. Some of the songs do not even explain why he feels it is a conservative song. Why the National Review decided to run this is beyond me. The bottom line is, and conservatives will learn this, that not one group, political party, or entity will ever control rock and roll. Rock music isn’t like Fox News, you cannot tell a Neil Young or a band like U2 what to think.

Zack Morris

I think there were two overriding themes that stuck with me throughout this whole process. One, as grif mentioned above, is the utter sloppiness of John J. Miller and the National Review Online (NRO). As we’ve pointed out on numerous occasions in our reviews, I’ve never seen a greater collection of cherry-picked quotes, poor research, and complete misinterpretations than in this article (at least in the non-Coulter category). The only entry this was missing was one that used the quote “I want ‘em real thick and juicy” as an illustration of how conservatives just love a big old rare steak, whereas the liberal pansies get together with the PETA freaks and have tofu parties…never mind that this came from Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, which is most certainly not about a satisfying meal (at least in the traditional sense). I realize this is basically a puff piece for them, but the lack of any sort of fact checking in this article is plain shameful, and it really speaks to the overall credibility of the publication.

The other theme is how this list reinforces all of the stereotypes about conservatives. The list is old, stodgy, monochromatic, and relies on days gone by arguments that resonate with no one that rocks anymore. Check out some facts and figures (things the NRO doesn’t know much about):
  • It’s about a 50/50 split between songs released before and after 1980; only 9 came after 1990, which doesn’t exactly speak well for modern “conservative rock”
  • The average person probably hasn’t heard of half these songs (I knew 28); I thought these were supposed to be “great” songs, not obscure B-sides
  • Not too many of them really rock; Ben Folds rules, but “Brick” does not rock; maybe 1/3 of them I would consider iPodable
  • 1 of the 50 artists on the list is female (The Pretenders and The Cranberries are female fronted, but as we already proved, those songs were completely misinterpreted), and 1 is African-American; there’s country and heavy metal, but no soul, rap, blues, or hip-hop; if you’re trying to prove that conservatism is a big tent ideology, this is not the way to go
  • If marriage and relationships are somehow conservative values (and that’s another argument entirely), how do you miss Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”; not only does it help diversity, but that’s one of the 10-20 greatest songs ever recorded; an omission like this is unbelievably egregious; you miss that song, you don’t rock, but if that doesn’t convince you…
  • If you use any of the following to defend a song, you do not rock: Bolshevism, welfare states, The Screwtape Letters, Jane Jacobs, Shakespeare, Mussolini, Che Guevara, or Samuel Taylor Coleridge; try and use a reference that’s somewhat relevant to 21st century culture

If the NRO wanted to make themselves look like a bunch of old coots, then they did a good job. But this list is no cooler than Dr. Evil was when he tried to do the Macarena to convince his son he was hip and with it.

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