Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Rebels

Struggling to satisfactorily record this song back in 1985, Petty apparently hurt his hand, punching a wall.

The song’s narrator calls himself a rebel, born in Dixie.

By the dictionary, a rebel is a person who stands up for what they believe in, even if most others aren’t on the same page. Politically, a rebel could be a revolutionary or even a terrorist.

It is a debate whether citizens should have the right to rebel against their governments. Constitutions may entrench this, with freedoms of expression, speech and assembly (gathering, meeting). This typically means resistance using legal and conventional means. But violence can come from rebels.

And Petty is using the American Revolutionary War of the 18th century as a metaphor. This was the armed battles between Great Britain and the American colonies. These colonists – the rebels – resented British imposition of taxes.

More from Petty: American Girl

Fanny – Ain’t That Peculiar

It’s said Fanny were the first all girl group to put out a record on a major label, but perhaps this ignores Motown (this song is a Marvin Gaye/Smokey Robinson cover)? This isn’t a racist conceit with two members of Fanny born in the Philippines.

So how about the band gets the kudos because they rocked to their own tunes that they also performed.

In 1970s larger society, women were becoming less deferential and advocating for equal treatment and respect. Fanny is said to have been a feminist beacon, at least for for rock music. They faced obstacles, even being prohibited from playing at a UK concert once for being too sexy!

Coon Creek Girls – Banjo Pickin’ Girls

It’s toe-tapping time!

The Coon Creek Girls beat Hillary Clinton to the Oval Office. In 1939, this all-girl, early country music outfit gigged at the White House. There, they entertained King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Politics can be divisive, and the string band players who had success in a male industry, went separate ways by the end of the year.

Coven – One Tin Soldier

An AM radio anti-war message that highlights the ignorance of greed.

This song was originally done by a Canadian band, The Original Caste, but this 1971 version is better known, having been in a film, “Billy Jack.”

It’s a song with a story. It resonates on listening, with the Pachelbel Canon type melody. The lyrics might seem simplistic and Dr. Seuss-like when summarized in print.

There is a nation or country (the mountain people), and a warring nation or country (the valley people). The mountain people have a hidden treasure that they will share with the valley people. But the valley people want it all for themselves. So they kill off the good guys. But then… spoiler alert… the treasure is just a message about peace!

The joke’s on the you, genocidal valley boys and girls!

International conflict is rarely this simple and never this hummable!

Boris Grebenshchikov – This Train Is On Fire

Called by some the Russian Bob Dylan, “BG” is the face and sound of classic rock music in the Soviet Union. Well, to the extent it was permitted!

This Train Is On Fire is considered a “perestroika anthem.” Perestroika, meaning restructuring, was an effort within the Communist Party, to open up the political and economic system of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s. This happened.

Did a song play a leading role in ending the Cold War? Wow!

Ruth Brandin Und Die Sputniks – Mich Hat Noch Keiner Beim Twist

In the dark days of the Cold War, long before Germany was reunited, the government of East Germany feared foreign cultural influences undermining its legitimacy. A response was to create homegrown pop music to fend off Chubby Checker, the Beatles and others. A new dance, the Lipsi, was made up, and Ruth Brandon and the Sputniks sang and played in 1964, to fight off Western influences.

If that sounds daft and difficult, or yet another naive, though maybe well-intentioned communist policy, cultural protectionism remains a government response in many freer countries, even today. Canada limits foreign content on the radio in peak hours. Internationally, free trade agreement negotiations invariably debate ways to encourage cultural diversity within a country’s borders. This is discussed as a means to fend off foreign influences, typically meaning, American.

Acid Mothers Temple – Blue Velvet Blues

This is a Japanese psychedelic band. Their tour of China was cancelled in 2014, as government officials there determined the music to be “pornographic and occult.”

Chinese president Xi Jinping has stated the arts should “embody socialist core values,” and consequently, some popular music festivals in China have recently been cancelled.

(Source: The Economist, May 9, 2015)