Sound those Chimes of Freedom, p.2

In the past, musicians with messages actually made it big. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger got the nation to demand social justice. Following in their footsteps, Bob Dylan got kids singing along to "Blowing in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Nineteen-year old Barry Mcguire had a top ten hit with the threatening "Eve of Destruction" and Marvin Gaye had the country wondering, "What's Going On?"

But now, while I might latch onto Patti Smith's "People Have the Power" or Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore," I can't recall any contemporary who has galvanized my entire generation into action. Salt 'n' Pepa urged us to "talk about AIDS, baby," but talking about sex was much more fun. Contemporary musicians with messages never seem to get the airplay granted to nymphets with bare midriffs, and nowadays it's commercial death to receive the label "folksinger."

I want a song about the way I feel, dammit, and I want that song to make it big. If I'm going to sing along, I want the song to express my principles, my beliefs, my convictions - you're never going to find me praising Jesus at a Creed concert - and I also want the song to be popular. Unfortunately for me, songs entitled "That's the Constitution You're Trampling," aren't ever going to hit TRL.

I want an anthem for people disturbed by the encroachments of Big Brother, infuriated at the hypocrisy of the Big Oil President, outraged by the excesses of corporate greed! I want Rage Against The Machine, but with tunes that I can sing! Or remember! Music offers political activists not only the chance to speak their minds, but also to rally the masses. Rhythm and melody can transform the most simple sentiment ("let's have fun!") into a battle cry ("You've gotta fight for your right to PARTY!"). This sublimation of efficacy must not be ignored, exploited, or abused. There is power here, friends, and we must use it.

Where to begin? I suggest we opt for a recent cause celebre that's been on the lips of every person forced to give soundbite: freedom. Freedom is cool, freedom is popular - everyone's been saying we're fighting to defend freedom; our freedom was attacked so we're fighting back to defend our freedom; let freedom ring and keep the fire within and yada yada freedom freedom yada yada.

Now, I know, Sir Paul tried this one already. But his 'freedom' was bland, flag-waving stuff. I want a song that talks about the freedoms that matter to me. Let's try an experiment. Let's hire a crack team of Top 40 songwriters - let's get the folks who wrote "Bye Bye Bye" or that "Genie in a Bottle" song -- and commission them to write a catchy, infectious piece of pop about freedom. Except our song will have a teensy twist to it - amidst the hearty celebrations of freedom and the American way of life, we'll include a few choice nuggets about civil liberties. Heck, maybe we'll include a couplet about reproductive choice or maybe even we'll work something in along the lines of "I wanna, I wanna / be free to smoke marijuana." We'll find every celebrity who spoke out for freedom and sign them up for our team (the kids'll sing along if Bono says it's cool), we'll channel the celebrity support into airplay and broadcast time, we'll put the song on Morpheus and let everyone download it for free. We'll get the entire nation humming along, united under a cause, and a goll darn American cause at that!

Freedom rocks, friends, real freedom - the freedom to speak one's mind and maybe even get a few people singing along. Let's Roll" is a wonderful expression, but what Uncle Neil missed out on is the yang to "Let's Roll's" yin: "Let's Rock." Bush can say, "Let's Roll" and I'll reply, "No! Let's rock!" So let's rock. My challenge to you: write a song that will change the world. We shall sing it, we shall feel it, and it will be good.

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