Friday, August 10, 2007

The Minutemen - "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs"

The career of the Minutemen is one of the primary reasons I wrongly believed back in 2000 that a Bush presidency might inspire some good music. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see how underground rock especially has become conservative, stagnant and boring.

But that's not the point here, I'm talking about the Minutemen. I think one of the coolest things about them, and I can't quite tell you how they do it, is the way they can yell strident political slogans without a hint of subtlety without ever sounding preachy. Whereas acts like Rage Against the Machine, Bad Religion or Fugazi often sound as though they're scolding their listeners, D. Boon still manages to come off like some friendly, well-read dude sitting next to you at the bar, even when he's issuing proclamations like

No no no to draft and war

U.S. out of El Salvador

Hardly poetry. But hey, it rhymes.

Mike Watt was always the bands resident lexicologist, and many of his lyrics deal with the deconstruction of language (check out esp. "Do You Want New Wave..." or "One Reporter's Opinion", for neither of which I can find lyrics posted anywhere). Here he attempts to declare his words "propaganda" with a sense of pride. These are my views, he says. I am experssing them through art in such a way that the music will distract you while the message slips through on a subliminal level. Hence, propaganda. Now pogo.

This is the version from Ballot Result, which I bought new probably ten years ago or so. The recording's a little fuzzy, but the performance more than makes up for it.

Buy it... on vinyl.
From my deck to you: The Minutemen - "Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs"

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