No More Lies

NO MORE LIES… Political protest music is back, according to Newsweek. In addition to the latest from the Dixie Chicks (who were challenging the president back when that was a risky career move), there are a slew of new, openly-anti-Bush songs and CDs out, by Neil Young, Pink, Pearl Jam, Merle Haggard, Paul Simon, and Dashboard Confessional.

I have to admit I’ve never been much of fan of protest songs, for the simple reason that very few of them are any good as music. They tend to garner momentary attention for their message (which can certainly be a good thing), but seldom have much of a shelf life. As the Washington Post’s David Segal, the paper’s former rock critic, asked me the other day, when’s the last time you listened to Little Steven Van Zandt’s “Sun City”?

A rare exception to this rule, it seems to me, is Neil Young. “Ohio” is a great song despite lyrics rooted in a 36-year-old news event. (I know it’s technically a CSNY song, but it’s Neil’s words and guitar that make it). So, being a pretty big Neil Young fan anyway, I decided to pick up his new CD, Living With War, which you can listen to here. I’ve listened to it now twice through, once with my 16-year-old daughter Hope, whose taste in music is quite good (it runs from the Beatles and Jack Johnson to Nirvana to Nine Inch Nails). We both like it. The track that has gotten the most attention, for obvious reasons, is “Let’s Impeach the President,” but musically it’s not that good. Much better, IMHO, is “No More Lies.” It’s got that dark, two-chord “Down by the River” sound. And there’s another quite good track called “Lookin’ for a Leader,” the lyrics of which remind me of a blog post: “Maybe it’s Obama/But he thinks that he’s too young. Maybe it’s Colin Powell/To right what he done wrong.”

Anyway, if you like Neil Young–or don’t like President Bush–you’ll probably enjoy the album, so check it out.

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Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. He was an editor at the magazine from 1986 to 1988.