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  • Dear Musician - Politics and Music

    Mixing oil and water…?

    By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)


    It’s almost impossible to escape it these days—Politics. It’s all over the news, and social media is obsessed with it. Some people really thrive on the hype of politics and things of red or blue persuasion. My personal belief – it’s all about opinion, and there are as many opinions as there are backsides upon which we sit!


    I recently penned a Dear Musician called “Take a Music Chill Pill,” in which I explained that we really need to escape to music to outrun the political banter overrunning our society.


    In recent years I’ve struggled to watch the Grammys because of the political satire. Everyone with an opinion likes to interject it into his or her acceptance speech. Usually the first mention of it  and I’m off to find a rerun of American Pickers. This year, however, I was surprised to find the Grammys reverting back to the love of music. Now, it wasn’t like everyone grabbed hands and sang Kumbaya, but there was a very gracious acknowledgement of the sanctity of music.


    "Music is what we all love, music is what it's all about," Alicia Keys said as she hosted. "Everybody is out here shining and I'm so proud to bring us together to honor this moment because music is what we cry to, it's what we march to, it's what we rock to, it's what we make love to. It's our shared global language.” It seemed her words worked to bring everyone back to square one.


    All of these thoughts were brought home as I watched a segment of the PBS News Hour in which  Dave Grohl is interviewed about politics and music. He doesn’t hide the fact that some bands have a political undertone, but in the interview he states, "If you put a rock band onstage where everybody knows the songs, people can forget about their differences for a time. Music can do that. That's one of the things that I love about it so much." 





    Music seems to defy the notion that water and oil don't mix. Bringing people together from across the aisle, uniting them in song—a great reason to make better music. -HC-







    Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.



    Edited by Dendy Jarrett

    Sub Title: Mixing oil and water…?

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    Thanks for sharing a bit of wisdom that far too many musicians seem to have forgotten, if indeed they ever knew it.


    The musicians I respect the most never mention politics. Ever. I don't even know what their politics are…and more importantly, I don't WANT to know. It serves no musical purpose to know what anyone's political opinions are.


    Music is not inherently political. It's something that we can all share, despite our political opinions, which makes it a unifying human endeavor. Politics is divisive, destructive, and ultimately creates more problems than it solves.


    Politics does nothing to elevate the quality of anyone's music. Actually, it degrades and debases it. If the human species put half the effort and energy wasted on political squabbling into music, the world would be a vastly more harmonious place.


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    As I recall politics was a hot musical topic in lyrics when I was coming up from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger through Neil Young and beyond so I can't say music and politics are strange bedfellows. Music is the voice of the people. I think Bruce Cockburn's song "If I had A Rocket Launcher" is an extreme sampling of politically driven musical angst.  You can't isolate music from society and hold it up as a shining example of a utopian harmonizer that inarguably soothes the savage breast. It can't do that. And, despite our best efforts politics will always breach the ramparts of music's strongest defenses and taint the artisans within.


    I could plead for music to have that power over people but, reality being what it is, I tend to put my faith in people for who they are to avoid unwanted surprises. So, in the micro sense, I resolve some of my own life's disharmony with music and keep it free of social discord.


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