Hi-Caliber – Freedom-Enemy of the State

Hi-Cal was a construction worker from New Jersey, who after 9/11 became a Christian and starting calling himself a “Republican rapper.” He has performed for many thousands at Tea Party rallies, serenading this movement in their efforts to move the USA more to the right of the political spectrum.

Fans and experts of rap and hip hop might find Hi-Cal’s rhymes and beats to be pedestrian. But perhaps there is room for ideological diversity in all styles of music.

Perhaps we can now have a rap battle not of boasting but of political debate?


Ma Rainey – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The ideology of conservatism rejects social change coming too fast. This includes “social conservatism” that views popular culture as being too liberal. That is, too unrestrained. A social conservative would lament the present day as lacking sexual mores.

But conservatism can also be criticized for looking too longingly on a staid, reserved past, that is part myth.

In other words, social conservatives may be all incensed about today’s twerking and booty shaking. But it’s not that new?

Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett… Ma Rainey, was born around 1896. Near a century ago, she had no problem singing lyrics embedded with racy double entendres:

All the boys in the neighborhood
They say your black bottom is really good
Come on and show me your black bottom
I want to learn that dance

Nor was Rainey some fringe performer. She was a professional blues singer. Rainey performed and recorded with Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Coleman Hawkins… these are household names in jazz.

Archie Bunker – Those Were The Days

This song is actually written by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, who are known for Broadway’s “Bye Bye Birdie.” Of course, it’s performed by actors Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, and is the theme song from the 1970s television sitcom, “All In The Family.”

All In The Family” was set in the context of social changes in the 1970s, such as related to women’s liberation (feminism) and racial equality.

They lyrics express views similar to the ideology of conservatism, which dovetail with the views of the main character, Archie Bunker. Archie resisted the 1970s changes!

That’s because conservatism maintains reverence for the way things were, feeling that modern times change too fast, with untested, unproven ideas and reforms.

Specifically to the times, Archie felt that younger people had become dependent on government to bring them up and support them (“didn’t need no welfare state, everybody pulled their weight…” But in the past, people took care of themselves with initiative and elbow grease.

And the line, “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great”? That’s a reference to a Buick automobile.

Helen Reddy – I Am Woman

A million-plus seller from 1972 on women’s empowerment that later became used at beauty pageants and on beer commercials…

But even if Reddy came to resent being mostly known for it, the influence on popular culture and feminism is tremendous.

The lyrics call for not giving up in seeking gender equality, that setbacks only embolden, and that this is just a start (“I’m still an embyro”). In this respect, feminism, as an ideology is often characterized as “post materialist.” That is, it concerns itself with matters of self-fulfilment. Too, feminism doesn’t stop: gains made are paths to seeking more improvements for women. This makes feminism and other ideologies such as environmentalism more evolving and dynamic than historical forebears such as liberalism, socialism and conservatism.

Doobie Brothers – Takin’ It To The Streets

Libertarian Ron Paul used this Michael McDonald-penned 1976 song as part of his 2012 US presidential campaign, calling for less government. However, Takin’ It To The Streets appears to be a cynical message about poor people being unrepresented politically and not getting the assistance they need. Thus, they must join together to take action themselves. Perhaps in this way the message could be stretched to be libertarian, an ideology that highly values individual freedom and personal initiative. However, the song has a more group or collective notion of political activism.

The Beatles – All You Need Is Love

Valentine’s Day no doubt brings many sappy love songs to pay tribute to one’s beloved.  In 1967, 400 million people watched John Lennon and others sing his attempt at more than this: a universal message of love that would bridge nations and minimize the world’s social, political and economic cleavages. The Beatles were asked by the BBC to do so and succeeded. Heck, they even quote their She Loves You and other love songs of days gone by – they meant more than romantic love.

Starting with Le Marseillaise, the French National Anthem,  All You Need Is Love fits the hippy era of optimism toward collectively achieving peace through caring for one another.

You might call this naive (didn’t Rolling Stone Keith Richards respond to All You Need is Love as a question, retorting, “Try living off it!”). You might call this a product of the times (civil rights, Vietnam). You might call it a joke, since the Beatles humor comes through in the tune, putting it the same category as Yellow Submarine.

Politics is about how we resolve our conflicts, though. In this regard, maybe it is grand and impractical, but love really can be the solution. That is, if everyone, every country gets on board.

Likely? No. Worth giving in, then? Also, hopefully, no.

The shifting time signatures of the song, and Sir Paul’s bass playing which suggests more chords than are used… both highlight the complexity not just of the structure and composition of the song, but of achieving love as means to utopia. As if, then, the flower power Beatles were still aware of the challenge of realizing idealism. So, you may say they were dreamers. But like an ideology paints a picture of the world as it is, it has a prescription for change: this magic pill is love is all you need, truly. So, work at it!