A User’s Guide to Politics and Music from Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin

The rise of Donald Trump, the spectre of Brexit, turmoil in the EU and muscle-flexing by China has made the world a weird place. On the positive side, this kind of upset should result in some very interesting music. The NME has Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin offering this user’s guide to politics and music.

The notorious proto-punk philosopher Sky Saxon put it nicely: “Music was and always will be the great escape from when there is too much reality.” On the one hand, we live in a world that fits the definition of too much “reality.” The President elect is after all a “reality” television icon. The most famous Americans are those who cater to the public’s insatiable voyeuristic tendencies (think of the Kardashians for instance) to peek inside their “real” lives.

One could counter, however, that we have too little reality. Citizens can barely glimpse the world around them because they are too fixated on their “smart” phones. How can they gauge what’s real? News media, journalism, and critical thinking have been transformed into a universe of “preaching to the converted” and “catering to the gullible” rather than vivid depictions of facts about the world we live in.

I prefer to think of these times – overflowing with too many tidbits of mostly useless information – as unreal, illusory, and ones in which it is frustratingly difficult to acquire reliable data. Investigation of facts isn’t some kind of magic or indoctrination, it’s the basis of knowledge, also known as science. It depends on simple observation and verification. For that you need to open yourself to all kinds of sensory input, not close yourself off, as one does when he consults his iPhone instead of stepping outside to see what the weather is.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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