The Music Meme: Day 23(ish?)

Day 23: A song that makes you angry


It finally happened: I missed a day.

The good news is that I did *not* miss a day of writing, as I finished up my opening faculty meetings, came home, and actually knocked out about an hour on my WIP, which is the main reason I'm doing this music-related thing in the first place. Still, I was taking some pride in sticking to the daily exercise, and even with a couple of days missed due to unusable prompts, I had high hopes for finishing out the string.

Now I have a choice: skip a prompt so that I can catch up with what should be today's prompt, or just recognize that the point is to keep writing, not to match a prompt with a particular day. I favor the latter, and I thereby declare this Day 23!

Now, of course, I have to deal with this prompt, which does have some interpretation issues. Am I looking for a song that makes me angry about something else, or a song that makes me angry about the song itself?

I'm going to assume the former, as the only way a song is likely to make me mad is to just suck outright, and who wants to read about that? Instead I'll consider other ways a song can make me mad, usually by pointing out an injustice or an offense of some kind. For a kid who grew up on folk music during the 60s, that's entirely appropriate, and I've certainly enjoyed more than my fair share of protest songs over the years. Even as late as 1992, I created a mixtape of songs written in opposition to Reagan & Thatcher; titled Ignorelands, it featured an A-side of American artists ragging on Ronnie (Camper Van Beethoven's "Sweethearts," Gil Scott-Heron's "Re-Ron," and of course R.E.M.'s title track), while side two was British artists taking on Maggie, featuring the Specials' cover of "Maggie's Farm," the English Beat's "Stand Down, Margaret," and Elvis Costello's blistering, beautiful "Tramp the Dirt Down," which has to be the among the candidates for the most stunning contrast of form and content in 20th Century popular music.

(You will doubtless be unsurprised to learn that I more recently created a similarly angry mix entitled One No Trump on Spotify. It includes some of the above, plus more recent material such as Pearl Jam's "Not For You" and Lily Allen's cheery "Fuck You.")

But when it comes to helping me get my mad on, there are really only a handful of songs that will do the job right. As an all-purpose release, the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You" is a pretty successful piece of work, but it never quite gets up to the level of roaring that I want from my angry song. Of all the punk songs I know, the only one to really mix the attitude and the sound with the proper degree of fury is the Clash's "Clampdown," though the band came close on a few other occasions ("Death or Glory," "Career Opportunities," and so on). I can even get behind a few songs by the Pogues in this department.

In the end, however, I have to go with the song that for me best defines the fury of betrayal--and the realization that you helped betray yourself. You're tasting the bitterness of knowing that you let yourself be hypnotized by sunny optimism, and now you must live with the consequences. It's an anger that doesn't just fly outward at your opponents, but stays close to your heart, pulsing, shifting, never letting you forget the ugly truth: you let your guard down. You let this happen. And Pete, John, Keith and especially Roger know: now all you can do is rear back, thrash your thunderous way to an emotional peak, and let loose your loudest scream.

This, goddammit. This is what rock is FOR.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on August 29, 2017 5:49 PM.

The Music Meme: Day 22 was the previous entry in this blog.

The Music Meme: Day 24 is the next entry in this blog.

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