Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reds Wedged Out

"You do realise you'll be responsible for New Labour, don't you?"

A sharp intake of breath was to be heard across what used to be the Left last week with the revelation by David Cameron & other senior Tories that they loved The Jam's music. One of Cameron's entourage, Ed Vaizey even admitted to having a soft spot for The Redskins, who were SWP members.

A Guardian piece by Jude Rogers (,,2266773,00.html ) alludes to this as part of a wider examination of "political" music in the 21st century. Rogers refers to the political material recently produced by REM & Sheryl Crowe. However, as well as noting Cameron's risible statement (& Paul Weller's indignant response to it), Rogers identifies the obstacles for political songs these days: "The worst thing about our nimbyish, hard-to-satisfy society is that we think of proper passion in song turning into cliche in the blink of an eye."

Rogers also highlights a syndrome which will be all too familiar to anyone with an activist past: "These days, we think of political songs as products of nostalgia: politically engaged music is something from the past. To us, the songs that mattered so much are now often nothing more than idealistic receptacles for our youthful whims, songs that have formed who we are, but have no relevance to what we do today."

Too true; I have fond memories of the Red Wedge gig at Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre back in '87, but in retrospect, it was a campaign doomed to fail. Like countless others, I still have the Clash, Billy Bragg, The Jam, et al on vinyl, but wouldn't play much of it today.

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