Well, I can knock another concert off my bucket list, but not for the reason I wanted.
This time, it’s Todd Rundgren, whose Bang On The Drum All Day and Hello, It’s Me were constant mix tape choices of mine in the 80s.
He joins the latest mix of performers who have invited Donald Trump to live full-time in their brain, rent free, and has devoted his new tour to Conservative-trashing. That’s fine. He can feel how he wants, but it is a little irksome to tell audiences who might want to hear some good music they “don’t belong with the rest of us” if they don’t agree with his personal views.
I know, oh, boo hoo, me. Who cares about an artist who only did a couple of songs I was really into, right?
I feel very fortunate to live in a country where one of my biggest complaints is having to listen to someone bitching about something just because I want to go to a concert.
Everyone knows music and politics is nothing new. I remember a Tom Petty concert where he brought out men wearing masks of every Republican president since Lincoln, it seemed, during his song Don’t Come Around Here No More. He then chased them off with a big peace sign. Okay, I get it. We conservatives suck. Make much war. Peace scares us…or something like that. The rest of the show, however, was fantastic.
It’s getting to the point where it is not only a barb here and there, but dark, tar-covered hate-filled death wishes upon our sitting President, his family, everyone who voted for him, everyone who might support a couple of his ideas, or everyone who simply doesn’t hate him every waking hour they walk this Earth.
This does affect me because I love music, all kinds of music. Heck, I love genres from Greensleeves to Al Green to Green Day, and most everything in between. What I don’t love, however, is the constant increasing threat of having every decision I’ve made politically, every value I’ve developed over years of experience, living and learning, every stance I’ve taken constantly get sucker punched.
So it is with most right-leaning music lovers who don’t want to restrict ourselves to the “safe spaces” of stereotyped cubbyholes like Old School Country and Kid Rock (although I like that stuff too).
I don’t expect — or even desire — for every performer to share my values. Everyone’s personal politics are complex.
I know music should have “voice” in the current flow of world events. I know it should make a difference and have a meaning, but I would love for musicians to want to bring people together through just making great music of any genre once in while instead trying to segregate them into the “them” and “us” camps.
As I write this I just learned of the bombing in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert. Right now I feel for every one of her fans, including a girl as young as eight, who lost their lives just because they wanted to see a show. They wanted to experience something amazing at a live concert, and instead had their lives cut short or altered forever by yet another calculated (I never believe these things are random) terrorist attack on innocent people.
I also learned after the bombing, members of the Manchester Sikh community unselfishly offered their time to help victims, including a cabbie who gave free rides to stranded victims to get away from the fray. A Crowdfunding campaign has been set up to help victims as well. This makes griping about elected officials seem just a bit shallow and insignificant right now.
I couldn’t tell you what one of Grande’s songs sounds like, if you asked, but I immediately thought of the massacre at the Eagles of Death Metal 2015 show in France, a band I really do enjoy.
When complaining about getting smacked by hateful words or images at a concert, at least I have never experienced something as unspeakably horrible as what happened to the concertgoers at either of these shows.
Neither should anyone else. Ever! No matter who they voted for or what they believe. No matter their musical tastes.
I do have one request for the throngs of musicians who feel the need to trash those who don’t agree with them: be thankful if you can.
Be thankful for everyone who enters your shows and makes it out alive. Be thankful for those you love and those you say you hate. For those who help protect us, all of them, from private security to public police forces.
Music should have a message, but right now let’s let it be “Welcome friends, and enjoy the song.”