“Everything is Political”

Being in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech I inherently have a strong interest in politics. John Street makes a connection that I somehow often times insensibly forget to link, the correlation of music and politics. Of course, I was informed on instances where regimes took over radio to build their ideology but never really put it in terms of every day radio. The regime that I was most informed on was the Nazi propaganda during Hitler’s reign. Street provides eye opening quotes throughout his introduction such as, “Music does not just provide a vehicle of political expansion, it is that vehicle.” This is something I feel may be exaggerated; however, Street has a point. People look to music to express themselves, and it serves as an extension to the common person. Beforehand I considered music to serve as an outlet for people, although music is really serving as an inlet to understanding lives. The song shown below is a prime example of how Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien characterize problems of daily hardships of into a song:

As the old adage states, “everything is political.” Scott and O’Brien produce a song that is an attack at just about everyone, but the story no way stops here. There are entire volumes linking protest movements to political movements. A song that jumps out in my head is “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This song characterizes how music is intrinsically political. Street would agree that this song fits his definition of when music becomes political. He says that music becomes political when music forms a “site of public deliberation, rather than private reflection.” This to me is masterfully asserted. When music is no longer played only in one’s kitchen as something to do before bed but is instead played to express the hate for an industry or disliking of a government action then music is political. Street is very smart in his wording saying that he does not believe all music is political. He deems that music must form collective thought for it to be considered political. An instance of this collective thought was Woodstock in 1969. At the time, there was war in Vietnam, women’s rights and civil rights, but music acted as a glue for people. This festival and music allowed people to unite during a very hard time for the United States. woodstock

Connecting Street’s view about music being political, I hope to focus my annotated bibliography on this relationship. I, like Street, believe that “music stands as the epitome” of freedom. I will focus my mix tape on the relation of music in the coalfields as a message of desired changed. I believe that this project will help me better understand the coal industry, but also comprehend the linkage between protest music and political change. Often times coal camps were setup with company towns and in these areas the coal company controlled every facet of one’s life. The company provided the shoes you bought, food you ate and the church hymns you sang; however, the company could not control the music that influenced collective thought. Andrew McKnight and Beyond Borders sing in the song below about a company town. I hope to continue to dig into coal, music and politics of southern Appalachia and find more links to better understand the place where I call home. At the same time, keeping Street’s ideas of the link between music and politics will help me better plot my journey.

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