Prescription for Upheaval
The interesting music revolt isn't happening on the FM dial anymore. Case in point: Ted Leo. His sound mixes punk and pop, with hard-charging songs of an unambiguously political sort.
The apogee of protest rock might well have come on May 15, 1970. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young recorded "Ohio" in a Los Angeles record studio-a song that Neil Young had penned in feverish reaction to the Kent State killings 11 days earlier. In searing terms, the song called a generation to account for the actions of its government: "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. / We're finally on our own. / This summer I hear the drumming, / Four dead in Ohio."In these new tumultuous times, we have plenty to get worked up about (the Florida recount, Katrina, Abu Ghraib, to name a few), but you would be hard-pressed to find such overt social commentary addressed by today's of-the-moment rock bands, at least in any memorable way. Even Rolling Stone admitted not long ago that "some of the new political rock is couched in ambiguity"-but isn't a lack of ambiguity required for a clear message of protest?Maybe we've just been looking for protest in all the wrong places. Maybe the interesting music revolt isn't happening on the FM dial anymore. Case in point: Ted Leo, lead singer and guitarist of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and a fixture of the alternative rock scene. His sound is a tightly woven texture of punk and pop, with hard-charging songs of an unambiguously political sort. "I see my songs as vignettes or snapshots about the human condition at a moment of reflection, or crisis, or triumph," says Leo, 37.
|You've got people creating amazing art infused with their passion and politics all the time.|