Whatever Happened to Activism Rock?

After the US election, I wrote that celebrity opinions don’t mean shit when it comes to influencing the electorate. All the star power summoned by Hillary Clinton couldn’t mobilize the electorate enough to put her over the top. Jacobs Media follows that thread, musing about the death of activist rock.

In the wake of the Presidential election, many Democratic and left wing fingers have been pointed in every direction, trying to explain what happened.   Along the way, everyone’s been blamed, including FBI chief James Comey, the Russians, Millennials, pollsters, and of course, the media.

But in an interesting twist, Observor writer Tim Sommers says you also should be giving some of the discredit to rock n’ roll artists who no longer seem to revel in involvement in the political discourse.   “How Rock N’ Roll Failed Us Again This Election” is provocative, a little angry, and worth a read.

Sommers avers that music has always carried a powerful message – from Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan to the Doors – that has historically become the anthems of generations.  As he notes,

“For generations, people have believed that rock n’ roll “stood” for something, that by endorsing it, one was fighting the establishment.  This has all been utter bullshit.  We’ve all been had.”

He points out that while celebrity musicians will make TV appearances, perform at fundraisers, or produce videos on behalf of candidates, rock has become a “paper tiger,” showing its true colors as well as being mostly impotent during a time when Americans were open to hearing political-tinged messages from their music idols.

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.

One thought on “Whatever Happened to Activism Rock?

  • November 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm
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    Sad to say but it seems Rock (in general) is dead or at least has a fading pulse. Where’s the angry music? Not on the radio! Thankfully, Metal acts like Testament, Megadeth and Prophets of Rage are still releasing worthy material, but Top 40 Rock is at an alltime low. The quality, the depth and the overall sound is lacking and boring. Sure there are some good songs being released but those songs are far cry from the amount of good music that used to flood the radio airwaves. I read an article recently where the author announced the best 5 Rock releases for the upcoming week and 4 of the 5 were re-issues-now that’s sad! C’mon people, start making some meaningful angry, ballsy rock music! And for the love of god, go easy with the compression when recording-the sound quality was so much better back in the day as well. I know, I’m sounding old but I’m really not that old. Just want to hear some NEW, GOOD Rock N Roll!

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