Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Once upon a time, long before I was an imaginary girl, I was editor of my high school newspaper, "The Chariot." My assistant editor was John J. Miller, then Lennon-spec-ed smartass, now a conservative writer for the National Review. A few weeks back, he published a list called The 50 greatest conservative rock songs.

The article surprised me — not only because the concept of 'conservative rock' is laughably sick and wrong, but also because John wrote it. I've kept in touch with John enough over the years to know we fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Still, I respect John's achievements even if I disagree with his views. (Case in point: If you buy his book about how much he hates France, you get a lump package deal with Ann Coulter's "How to Talk to Liberals – If You Must" — charming!)

The John J. Miller I knew was a great writer with a keen mind, a wicked sense of humor, and a strong sense of irony. We were in the gifted program together. We listened to Pink Floyd together. He knew better than to try to substantiate a rock song list, "without reference to biography or historical context." And I'd like to believe that deep down, he still knows better.

What does this all mean for my fallen high school hero?

  • John is secretly taking the piss out of his conservative reader base. While this option seems unlikely, the John I knew would have thought it damn funny to send thousands of National Review readers to download the Sex Pistols.
  • John is just liberal-baiting (and pretty successfully, at that).
  • John actually believes that Republicans values can be found in rock/pop culture.

But he's wrong.

Rock and roll has existed for 50 some-odd years. I could list hundreds of artists — and thousands of songs — that expouse liberal ideals, oppose the current political regime, or reject the Republican powers-that-be of our past. John, on the other hand, squints through his red-state-colored glasses and attempts to extract the winciest bit of conservatism from the 50 songs below, desperate to prove that the rock and roll heroes of his youth jibe with the Republican ideals of his present. But he's can't. 50+ years of rock music hasn't produced even a handful of Republican rockers, or legitimately conservative rock songs.

I don't begrudge John (or any Republicans) the right to love the rock. Rock rocks! But they can't have Pete Townshend. Or John Lennon. Or Joe Strummer.

Enough talking. Time to start rocking…

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again," by The Who.
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. "There's nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss." The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon's pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey's wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

John always was a huge Who fan. And congrats to you, John; Pete Townshend, who wrote the song, has responded to your article, which is super cool! Unfortunately for you, he flat-out disagrees with your opinion.

But don't dismay. I like to think of this as a conservative song too! As in, remember when America supported and believed our conservative President when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? And then we went to war based on his faulty intelligence and it turned out that oopsie, there really weren't any weapons after all? Well, here's to hoping that We Won't Get Fooled Again!"

2. "Taxman," by The Beatles.
A George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff (which was actually played by Paul McCartney): "If you drive a car, I'll tax the street / If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat / If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet." The song closes with a humorous jab at death taxes: "Now my advice for those who die / Declare the pennies on your eyes."

Yep, the Beatles were complaining about their taxes. And no wonder: at the time this song was written, the crazy Brits had hiked tax rates so that the most rich were paying 95% of their income to taxes. Not even we tax crazy liberals can take issue with their complaining.

Though while we're on the subject of taxing wealthy people, I was just reading about the recent House vote to repeal of the estate tax. According to the article, "Under the House bill, estates worth up to $5 million (individuals) or $10 million (couples) would be exempt from the estate tax; taxes for even larger estates — those worth up to $25 million — would be reduced dramatically from the current levels. If the bill gets through the Senate, it's expected to reduce federal revenues by $283 billion between 2006 and 2016. That's roughly the same as the cost of the Iraq war to date."

Our National Debt is over eight trillion dollars. The cost of the Iraq war rapidly approaches three hundred billion dollars, with no end in sight. That’s a lot of pudding!

If there's one thing our country used to be able to count on with Republicans in office, it was fiscal responsibility. But with the astronomical costs of war partnered with the proposed Estate tax cut, what exactly is the plan to pay off our debt? It's like the Repubs are using their Visa to pay their Discover to pay their Amex. Eventually, someone's gotta pay the rent and pick up the tab. Are the Republicans just waiting for the pendulum to swing back, so that when Democrats finally move back into the Washington majority and are forced to raise taxes to pay off the Republican accrued debts, they can whine about how much liberals love taxes? Pah!

This chart provides a nice visual that debunks the whole "liberals spend all the money" myth. I wonder who's going to be picking up this tab?

Fooled Again 

3. "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones.
Don't be misled by the title; this song is The Screwtape Letters of rock. The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism — he will try to make you think that "every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints." What's more, he is the sinister inspiration for the crueltie
s of Bolshevism: "I stuck around St. Petersburg / When I saw it was a time for a change / Killed the czar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain."

Stop right there. I gotta know right now. How many of you readers know the difference between a communist and a liberal? Cause it seems like my old friend John J. Miller could use a refresher.

  • Communism is a political ideology that seeks to establish a future classless, stateless social organization based upon common ownership of the means of production.
  • Liberalism is an ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value. Broadly speaking, liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, especially of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports relatively free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of minorities are protected.

Please note that the ideologies are polar opposites. The theme of equating liberals with communism is pervasive throughout John's song choices and it a big fat propaganda lie.

But don't judge John too harshly for it. See, John and I were young and impressionable during the "I-hope-the-Russian's-love-their-children-too" era. Communism was the ultimate force of evil in the world; we were pumped stories of all the atrocities in the USSR (rigging elections, imprisoning people unjustly without letting the accused hear evidence of their crimes, manipulating the press, etc). A great number of John's song choices reveal how profoundly influenced he was by this era. But as it turns out, the Russian's *did* love their children, Sting has gone on to release countless additional crappy solo albums, the Berlin wall came down, and all of America (not just the neocons) rejoiced.

C'mon, think about what you currently know about contemporary liberal values. Freedom of religion. Separation of church and state. Rights for all, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. Do you think these views held up well in Hitler's fascist right-wing Germany or communist Russia? How do you think we agnostics, gays, and Jews fared? You may recall, NOT WELL. The liberal viewpoint is that everyone should be able to lead the life he or she wants to live: not the life the government wants, nor the life the church wants. I know I'm getting all heavy on you here, but trust me, reader — you're going to see a lot of songs cited as conservative simply because they're excited about the end of the Cold War — and that's a value shared by liberals and conservatives.

And besides, if the devil is boasting that he's "a man of wealth and taste," he's likely voting Republican.

4. "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd. A tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow."

Neil Young's song "Southern Man" denounced racism and segregation. Most people see "Sweet Home Alabama" as a retort to "Southern Man," as it voices support for then-governor George Wallace, a declared segregationalist ("In Birmingham they love the governor"). Do you really feel so strongly that George Wallace was a role model for conservatives today that you cite the one rock song that supports him as #4 on your list? Huh.

In reality, Neil Young and the members of Lynyrd Skynrd were great pals, and Neil Young still occasionally busts out a rendition of "Sweet Home Alabama" at his shows. Sounds way less like Canadian arrogance and way more like a great Canadian sense of humor.

Incidentally, "Sweet Home Alabama" was a hit in 1974. In the next Presidential election, nearly the entire south — including Alabamy — voted for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter.

Fooled Again 

PS ~ John, liberals don't "love to loathe" the South. We do, however, love to loathe racism, segregation, homophobia, ignorance, and weak public educational systems that only perpetuate these characteristics — all attributes modern Republicans seem to advocate, or at least exploit.

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice," by The Beach Boys.
Pro-abstinence and pro-marriage: "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true / Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do / We could be married / And then we'd be happy."

Weird. If someone as drug addled and promiscuous as 60s era Brian "I Get Around" Wilson's could produce an anthem for conservatism, wouldn't that be nice? But maybe that over-the-top ethereal production value and the hyperbolic-ly naive lyrics show that the song is… ironic?

But I like this guy's interpretation best of all: "I don't hear the abstinence part, unless you think falsetto is inherently an anti-sexual technique. Truly, though, this song is so gay, it's a pro-gay marriage anthem."

6. "Gloria," by U2.
Just because a rock song is about faith doesn't mean that it's conservative. But what about a rock song that's about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That's beautifully reactionary: "Gloria / In te domine / Gloria / Exultate."

Time to crack out our online dictionaries again!

A Reactionary is a political epithet typically applied to extreme ideological conservatism, especially that which wishes to return to a real or imagined old order of things, and which is willing to use coercive means to do so.

Speaking Latin is coercive? Bono is an example of extreme ideological conservativism? C'mon now, John. As your former editor, I have to let you into a secret: people are laughing at you right now. Because that's just ridiculous.

Bono is the consummate example of a true Christian, minus the tragically ubiquitous "conservative" after it. He's "old school new testament," so he totally digs on the whole "Do Unto Others" idea, and clearly he paid attention during the readings of the Sermon on the Mount (Blessed are the poor, the meek, the peacemakers… As you do onto the least of these, you do onto me, yadda yadda).

Bono constantly champions for the poor and oppressed. I've quoted one of his most famous songs below (in a language we all understand) to demonstrate how he's clearly falls far, far, far to the left of the dial:

"One love / one blood / one life / you got to do what you should
One life / with each other / sisters / brothers
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
each other
One…life "

Not exactly words from a man who wants to cut taxes for the rich and reduce social programs for the poor, eh?

7. "Revolution," by The Beatles.
"You say you want a revolution / Well you know / We all want to change the world . . . Don't you know you can count me out?" What's more, Communism isn't even cool: "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow." (Someone tell the Che Guevara crowd.)

John J. Miller sure was a big fan of John Lennon back in the day — or at least, Lennon was a major inspiration for his choice in fashionable eyewear. I wonder how John "Imagine all the people, sharing all the world" Lennon would have reacted to John placing one of his songs in the top 10 conservative songs list? Now I know John's stated goal was to pick songs, "without reference to biography or historical context," but out of respect for Lennon (RIP), I'm gonna do just that.

"Revolution" is the voice of a liberal/progressive/pacifist, addressing a radical. He's imploring that when change comes, it should not involve intolerance or violence ("But when you want money for people with minds that hate / All I can tell you is brother you have to wait" and "But when you talk about destruction / Don't you know you can count me out").

He speaks to uniting the left toward a single goal — not communist one, but not a conservative one either. Because as I may have mentioned above, liberals do not equal communists…

8. "Bodies," by The Sex Pistols.
Violent and vulgar, but also a searing anti-abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: "It's not an animal / It's an abortion."

"Bodies" outwardly appears to be an anti-abortion song. But listen to all the lyrics and you'll hear Johnny Rotten go on to describe the horrors of illegal abortions, and also serve as a voice for choice (albeit a foul-mouthed one).

"Dragged on a table in factory
Illegitimate place to be
In a packet in a lavatory
Die little baby screaming fucking bloody mess
It's not an animal it's an abortion"

And continues on with its, um, charming lyrics, to voice for choice:

"Fuck this and fuck that fuck it all and
Fuck the fucking brat
She dont wanna baby that looks like that
I dont wanna baby that looks like that
Body I'm not an animal
Body I'm not an abortion."

According to Wiki-folklore, the song was based on a real-life fan of the band named Pauline, a mentally ill woman who got pregnant while institutionalized and subsequently had an abortion.

Bill Clinton said it best: Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. And the song-writer (John Lydon) himself has publicly denounced the anti-abortion movement.

9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.
A head-banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: "So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war."

My husband David nearly served in the first Gulf War. Yea, crazy thing, my rockstar super liberal husband was in the Army. Infantry unit — trained for hand-to-hand combat and an expert marksman too. He grew up in a small town, and the best way out was joining the Army. So when we listen to the news about the atrocities of Iraq each day, it hits him especially hard. It's a sobering thought. John has three children. I know they're too young to serve yet — but if he'd be willing to send his children to Iraq to fight for "peace through strength," then I'd be okay with calling "Don't Tread on Me" one killer conservative classic rock song.

Oh wait! Except that Metallica isn't on your side either. They supported Kerry.

10. "20th Century Man," by The Kinks.
"You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / 'Cause the 20th-century people / Took it all away from me."

Someone educated enough to know Shakespeare and Gainsborough, complaining about a loss of personal liberties, and you think he's conservative? C'mon…

11. "The Trees," by Rush.
Before there was Rush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes? "The trees are all kept equal / By hatchet, axe, and saw."

Right, and libertarians advocate that individuals should be free to do whatever they wish with their person or property, as long as they do not infringe on the same liberty of others. Conservatives can't lay claim to the libertarians, unless they want to take their pro-drug, pro-government-out-of-the-bedroom, and anti-war stances. Not many libertarians are going to tolerate wire tapping.

And as aside to JJM: I bet Getty, Neil, and Alex are gonna be pissed about the whole "Canadians are arrogant" comment to boot (see #4, "Sweet Home Alabama").

12. "Neighborhood Bully," by Bob Dylan.
A pro-Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a theme song for the Bush Doctrine: "He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad / The bombs were meant for him / He was supposed to feel bad / He's the neighborhood bully."

Bob Dylan is neither conservative nor Republican. For fucks sake, this is DYLAN we're talking about. He is, however, Jewish; of course he's pro-Israel. But he's pro-Israel in a "the Jews belong in Israel" way, not in a "Jews- have- returned- to- Israel so- now- they- need- to- rebuild- the- Temple- to- start- the- End- of- Times" Christian conservative kinda way.

13. "My City Was Gone," by The Pretenders.
Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh's radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibility against central planning and a conservative's dissatisfaction with rapid change: "I went back to Ohio / But my pretty countryside / Had been paved down the middle / By a government that had no pride."

One simple Wikipedia check would have confirmed that conservatives have been misinterpreting the song for years because Rush Limbaugh stole it. (Way to respect intellectual property rights, Rush). Chrissie Hynde consented to let Rush continue to use the song — on the condition that he donate all the royalties to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), a super liberal organization t
hat protects animal rights. And so he does. That effing rules.

And the dittoheads are grossly misinterpreting the lyrics. "My City Was Gone" has absolutely nothing to do with a conservative's dissatisfaction with rapid change. The song is a condemnation of corporate development and pollution in Hynde's hometown of Akron, Ohio. See same Wiki entry above for the details. Or rent "Roger and Me."

14. "Right Here, Right Now," by Jesus Jones.
The words are vague, but they're also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War: "I was alive and I waited for this. . . . Watching the world wake up from history."

I think I might have had several under-age drinks and danced to this song like the wild liberal I am… Hell, John probably did too. Because WE WERE ALL HAPPY when the Berlin wall came down.

15. "I Fought the Law," by The Crickets.
The original law-and-order classic, made famous in 1965 by The Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.

Wha? Are conservatives on the side of the cops (who won)? Because later on, this list champions Sammy Hagar, who defies the fuzz when He Can't Drive 55. Or perhaps conservatives are all riled up because this song defends the second amendment? (As clearly, our protagonist has access to firearms: "Robbing people with a six gun").

16. "Get Over It," by The Eagles.
Against the culture of grievance: "The big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing." There's also this nice line: "I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass."

That IS a nice line! What a wicked burn on us liberals! And speaking on behalf of music loving liberals everywhere, if I may, we'd be happy to give you this song, possibly one of the biggest pieces of rock crap every dumped on the American public.

But here's a big sticking point for me about modern day conservatives: the paradox between laissez-faire economics (that roughly translates to "get over it" whenever some progressive thinker whines about social injustices or the needy, right?) and Christianity (whose supporters are responsible for Bush in office… well, that and tampered polling machines and corrupt election officials in Florida, but I digress). Myself, I'm agnostic, with Pagan leanings and a Jewish upbringing. I have never professed to follow the teachings of Christ, so I'm allowed, by my own moral code, to say all those welfare cases need to just "get over it." But I don't. I recognize that there are inequalities in the world; I recognize that people get sick, or have shitty parents, or don't have money to get the educations they need. I say sometimes we need to help each other out… but I came to this value of my own accord.

You Christian peeps — aren't you morally bound to help those in need? As Bono sang in Conservative Song Choice #6 above (in the English part of the song), "Oh, Lord, if I had anything, anything at all, I'd give it to you." Ya'll need to start subjugating yourself to the meek, no?

"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth… Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive me… Blessed for the Eagles, for they shall Get Over It." That sounds like Compassionate Conservativism alrighty.

17. "Stay Together for the Kids," by Blink 182.
A eulogy for family values by an alt-rock band whose members were raised in a generation without enough of them: "So here's your holiday / Hope you enjoy it this time / You gave it all away. . . . It's not right."

Anyone else confused about exactly what a "eulogy for family values" looks like? I read the rest of the song lyrics, and this song is about growing up as a very unhappy kid in a very unhappy household, because the parents are very unhappily married and are staying together for the kids. Case in point:

"This house is haunted, it's so pathetic, it makes no sense at all
If a stupid poem could fix this home, I'd read it every day.
The anger hurts my ears, been running strong for seven years
Rather then fix the problem, they never solve them, it makes no sense at all."

If this is supposed to be a conservative song — as its inclusive on this illustrious list would indicate — then the song should be supporting the conservative view of marriage (that one SHOULD stay together for the kids, as divorce is b-a-d). But from the lyrics, it sounds like the only good that came from the parents staying together was filling the child with so much angst that he became a rock star.

18. "Cult of Personality," by Living Colour.
A hard-rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin, and even JFK: "I exploit you, still you love me / I tell you one and one makes three / I'm the cult of personality."

This song also "whacks" Gandhi. To clarify: a cult of personality is, "A political institution in which a country's leader uses mass media to create a larger-than-life public image through unquestioning flattery and praise." Sound familiar?

The song goes on to say: "You don't have to follow me / Only you can set you free."

The summary: Be wary of government leaders. Think for yourself. Don't watch FOX news.

19. "Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders.

An anti-drug song that is also anti-utopian: "Well, you think you're gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise / But it ain't happened yet, so girl you better think twice."

The guy who once introduced me to Pink Floyd now extols "just say no to drugs" rhetoric? Bleh.

20. "Rock the Casbah," by The Clash.
After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.

The Police's "Every Breath You Take" was one of the most requested love song dedications in the early 80s, and that's a song about a psycho stalker. Same with R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" in the late 80s. And let's not forget the classic blunder of the Reagan administration, trying to co-opt the anti-war song "Born in the USA" for their inauguration theme song. The moral of the story? Just because people like a song (and the 3-4 words that make up the refrain) doesn't mean they understand it.

21. "Heroes," by David Bowie.
A Cold War love song about a man and a woman divided by the Berlin Wall. No moral equivalence here: "I can remember / Standing / By the wall / And the guns / Shot above our heads / And we kissed / As though nothing could fall / And the shame / Was on the other side / Oh we can beat them / For ever and ever."

Would you still have placed this one in the top 50 if the Berlin Wall had stood between David Bowie and one of his (many) gay lovers?

22. "Red Barchetta," by Rush.
In a time of "the Motor Law," presumably legislated by green extremists, the singer describes family reunion and the t
hrill of driving a fast car, an act that is his "weekly crime."

If anyone can still think only green extremists should be concerned about our dependency on foreign oil after reading up on Peak Oil, then we have waaaaaaaay bigger problems than the National Review's lack of music judgment.

23. "Brick," by Ben Folds Five.
Written from the perspective of a man who takes his young girlfriend to an abortion clinic, this song describes the emotional scars of "reproductive freedom": "Now she's feeling more alone / Than she ever has before. . . . As weeks went by / It showed that she was not fine."

To all you conservatives reading this article (c'mon, it's worth it for photo alone… priceless!), I have a liberal secret for you. Ready? Abortions suck. We all know this. No one WANTS to have an abortion. Now — stay with me, as this veers into some abstract, non-black-and-white concepts— when women have abortions, they frequently have intense feelings afterward: grief, guilt, desolation, etc. When men are part of the process, they too experience these very same strong feelings.

Are you still with me here? Because "Brick" is a rare song, a tragically honest view of the emotional fallout after an abortion, and one told from a man's point of view. I'm sure many people have taken great comfort with this song. What's most astonishing is that Ben Folds takes on his emotions without judging them; never during the course of the song does he express regret for the act, or express anti-choice views, or attempt to dissuade others from making the same choice that he and his girlfriend made. He should be lauded his candidness, not exploited by those who wish to flatten his lyrics into a one-dimensional diatribe against abortion.

24. "Der Kommissar," by After the Fire.
On the misery of East German life: "Don't turn around, uh-oh / Der Kommissar's in town, uh-oh / He's got the power / And you're so weak / And your frustration / Will not let you speak." Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.

A of all, I warned you that this list would milk the whole Cold War / Communism angle to death. B of all, this song is actually about cocaine use. *Yawn*

25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin.
The lyrics are straight out of Robert Plant's Middle Earth period there are lines about "ring wraiths" and "magic runes" but for a song released in 1971, it's hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: "The tyrant's face is red."

Yeah yeah yeah, from now on I pour a frothy cold glass of STFU every time John tries to co-opt another great rock band because they didn't like communism. Hope you're thristy!

26. "Capitalism," by Oingo Boingo.
"There's nothing wrong with Capitalism / There's nothing wrong with free enterprise. . . . You're just a middle class, socialist brat / From a suburban family and you never really had to work."

There's nothing wrong with these lyrics. I'm a fan of both capitalism and free enterprise. I also acknowledge these lyrics clearly extol classic conservative values, so they can have this one. Incidentally though, I wonder how conservatives feel about Halliburton getting no-bid contracts from our government worth millions of dollars, when Dick Cheney is the former CEO (and still earns plenty o' profit). Is there anything wrong with that type of free enterprise?

27. "Obvious Song," by Joe Jackson.
For property rights and economic development, and against liberal hypocrisy: "There was a man in the jungle / Trying to make ends meet / Found himself one day with an axe in his hand / When a voice said "Buddy can you spare that tree / We gotta save the world starting with your land' / It was a rock 'n' roll millionaire from the USA / Doing three to the gallon in a big white car / And he sang and he sang 'til he polluted the air / And he blew a lot of smoke from a Cuban cigar."

Reading quotes from John J. Miller reminds me of driving in the car with my dad as a kid; both of them switch the best songs off before they get to the good parts!

"So we starve all the teachers
And recruit more Marines.
How come we don't even know what that means?
It's obvious.
And the walls are coming down
Between the eagle and the dove
You don't have to be a hippie to believe in love
That's obvious . . . obvious."

28. "Janie's Got a Gun," by Aerosmith.
How the right to bear arms can protect women from sexual predators: "What did her daddy do? / It's Janie's last I.O.U. / She had to take him down easy / And put a bullet in his brain / She said 'cause nobody believes me / The man was such a sleaze / He ain't never gonna be the same."

A song about a girl who shoots her father who raped her is one of the best conservative ditties of all time? "Dum, dum, dum it's the sound of my gun;" I've seen some pretty stupid justifications for the second amendment before, but this one is the dumb, dumb, dumbest ever. (For the record, I am pro the second amendment. Just require some training and a license to carry one of those damn things, would ya?)

29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Iron Maiden.
A heavy-metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

Um, relevance?

30. "You Can't Be Too Strong," by Graham Parker.
Although it's not explicitly pro-life, this tune describes the horror of abortion with bracing honesty: "Did they tear it out with talons of steel, and give you a shot so that you wouldn't feel?"

I agree, not explicitly pro-life but honest. Others have called this a pro-choice song.

31. "Small Town," by John Mellencamp.
A Burkean rocker: "No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from / I cannot forget the people who love me."

Funny, John and I come from the same small town, and look how different we turned out. Plus, John Mellencamp sure does hate George W. Bush. Nice try though!

32. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," by The Georgia Satellites.
An outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old-time sexual mores: "She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow."

Old time sexual mores = Horny. Dude. Wants. Sex. Girl says no. Guy = frustrated, and probably moved onto another girl. Great song though!

33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones.
You can "[go] down to the demonstration" and vent your frustration, but you must understand that there's no such thing as a perfect society — there are merely decent and free ones.

One of cornerstones of keeping our society free and decent if the right to assemble, a right that's been dangerously compromised under our current admi
nistration. During the last campaign, we weren't even free to go see our President speak, unless we signed a waver that said we drank the Republican Kool-aid. How decent is that?

34. "Godzilla," by Blue Oyster Cult.
A 1977 classic about a big green monster — and more: "History shows again and again / How nature points up the folly of men."

Like Hurricane Katrina did for Bush?

35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Written as an anti-Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism and takes a dim view of both Communism and liberalism: "Five-year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains . . ."

I had no idea conservatives were so anti-activism. Don't you value your free speech and freedom to assemble? One day when the Bush reign is finally over, you might find something to protest too.

Speaking of protesting, part of being liberal is being free to express different points of view. So unlike Republicans (or the 30-something percent of Americans who still think Bush is doing a bang-up job), we liberals welcome differing viewpoints… which means we sometimes even criticize each other. It keeps things interesting. Or as Amanda at Pandagon says, "If being annoyed at mealy-mouthed liberals who won't push harder for progressive goals makes you a conservative, I'm a conservative. Who knew? I want my check from a think tank now."

36. "Government Cheese," by The Rainmakers.
A protest song against the welfare state by a Kansas City band that deserved more success than it got. The first line: "Give a man a free house and he'll bust out the windows."

Mmmmm. Cheese. The whole cheese from the government Democratic thing is just like those bobo tax refunds that Bush likes to pass out to the non-millionaires. Neither cost much, and they keep the ignorant poor voting for the powers-that-be.

37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," by The Band.
Despite its sins, the American South always has been about more than racism — this song captures its pride and tradition.

Remember when John blasted moral relativism back at song #3? Moral relativism "takes the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect absolute and universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal references." Now I don't 'loathe" the South, but they've certainly had their share of historical low points. By ascribing pride a certain region — isn't that committing the so-called sin of moral relativism? Isn't an immoral act an immoral act, even if you like to eat grits while committing it? (I love grits. And okra. And cornbread. De-lish!.)

Also, I wonder when John became the voice of a conservative generation, they forced him to take on advocacy work for the South? Because he's from Michigan.

38. "I Can't Drive 55," by Sammy Hagar.
A rocker's objection to the nanny state. (See also Hagar's pro-America song "VOA.")

Now liberals are responsible for speed limits? What about those damn traffic lights!?? And crosswalks! And the school zones, and all those damn school buses??!?! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

Seriously thought, speed limits as metaphor for the nanny state? Don't you think you're reading a wee bit into Sammy's (incredibly profound) lyrics? If you wanna talk nanny state, let's talk: marijuana prohibition. The right to die. The right to perform sexual acts such as sodomy and fellatio. Access to birth control and abortions. All things the Republican party has taken or is trying to take away. I'll take a speeding ticket any day. (Besides, do you think those cops pulling you over are Democrats?)

39. "Property Line," by The Marshall Tucker Band.
The secret to happiness, according to these southern-rock heavyweights, is life, liberty, and property: "Well my idea of a good time / Is walkin' my property line / And knowin' the mud on my boots is mine."

Well honk my hooter! Them southern rock heavyweights you quote love life, liberty, property, and SCORING TONS OF TAIL! This entire song, minus the three lines you chose to quote, is about fucking.

40. "Wake Up Little Susie," by The Everly Brothers.
A smash hit in 1957, back when high-school social pressures were rather different from what they have become: "We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot."

"It's four o'clock, and we're in trouble deep / Wake up little Susie." Oopsie, missed curfew! What exactly do you think Susie and her fella were doing before they nodded off? This song is 50s-speak for "Susie is slutty."

41. "The Icicle Melts," by The Cranberries.
A pro-life tune sung by Irish warbler Dolores O'Riordan: "I don't know what's happening to people today / When a child, he was taken away . . . 'Cause nine months is too long."

Nope. The song references the murder of Jamie Bulger, a toddler in the U.K. who was murdered by two 10 year old boys. More details.

42."Everybody's a Victim," by The Proclaimers.
Best known for their smash hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," this Scottish band also recorded a catchy song about the problem of suspending moral judgment: "It doesn't matter what I do / You have to say it's all right . . . Everybody's a victim / We're becoming like the USA."

Proving that no one likes whiny Americans….

43. "Wonderful," by Everclear.
A child's take on divorce: "I don't wanna hear you say / That I will understand someday / No, no, no, no / I don't wanna hear you say / You both have grown in a different way / No, no, no, no / I don't wanna meet your friends / And I don't wanna start over again / I just want my life to be the same / Just like it used to be."

Can we get a roll call of the divorced Republican leaders? Let's see, there's Reagan, McCain, Dole, Gingrich, Limbaugh. Ooh, there's really quite a lot of them.) As it turns out, it's us liberals who tend to stay married. The divorce rates are highest in the South (the conservative Bible belt). The lowest divorce rate? In the liberal bastion of Massachusetts, of course, where even The Gays can marry.

According to, religion may have little or no effect on divorce rates. The apparently higher rate among born-again Christians and lower rate a
mong Atheists and Agnostics may be due to the influence of financial and/or educational factors. Did you catch that? Born-again Christians are dumber and poorer, and the Atheists and Agnostics are smarter and richer! Wahoo!!!! (Another little liberal secret: we love being rich just as much as you do.)

44. "Two Sisters," by The Kinks.
Why the "drudgery of being wed" is more rewarding than bohemian life.

As a liberal married to a super sexy liberal, I know that married life beats anything that came before it. But my single "bohemian life" sure did have its fun times. I'd take them over a "drudgery" sort of marriage any day.

45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief," by Cheap Trick.
An anti-tax protest song: "You work hard, you went hungry / Now the taxman is out to get you. . . . He hates you, he loves money."

Wah wah. I have to pay taxes so we can fund roads and schools and social service programs. Ah boo hoo hoo! My governments collect taxes because THEY HATE ME! Sheesh, people always call us liberals whiners, but enough with the "I Hate Taxes" songs. I mean, I owed thousands of dollars this year. I wasn't happy about it, but do you hear me whining?

In fact, I *should* be whining! For all the Bush-supporters who claim to hate big government and taxes, it's those red states that take the most from Federal taxes, and us smart liberal blue voting states footing the bill. Damn you, red states!! Damn you!

46. "Wind of Change," by The Scorpions.
A German hard-rock group's optimistic power ballad about the end of the Cold War and national reunification: "The world is closing in / Did you ever think / That we could be so close, like brothers / The future's in the air / I can feel it everywhere / Blowing with the wind of change."

Blah blah blah, cold war, blah blah blah…

47. "One," by Creed.
Against racial preferences: "Society blind by color / Why hold down one to raise another / Discrimination now on both sides / Seeds of hate blossom further."

PLEASE TAKE CREED. Seriously. They're all yours. And Kid Rock too. Apparently, they've taken each other. Gross.

48. "Why Don't You Get a Job," by The Offspring.
The lyrics aren't exactly Shakespearean, but they're refreshingly blunt and they capture a motive force behind welfare reform.

Sounds more like girlfriend reform. No one's asking the government for money in this song.

All the progressive thinkers I know work — hard. And as I showed above in song #45, we shoulder a majority of the tax burden too. Our taxes go to fund your President's stupid war that we don't support, and your money goes to pay for social programs that you don't support. That's the way it goes in a heterogeneous society like ours. Pay your taxes, and shut the fuck up.

49. "Abortion," by Kid Rock.
A plaintive song sung by a man who confronts his unborn child's abortion: "I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too / Man I wish you could see them too."

You can have Kid Rock. He's and what's-his-butt from Creed are such glowing examples of conservative values.

50. "Stand By Your Man," by Tammy Wynette.
Hillary trashed it… isn't that enough? If you're worried that Wynette's original is too country, then check out the cover version by Motörhead.

"Stand By Your Man" only proves that there really aren't 50 conservative rock songs even in your wild-ass conservative dreams. Tammy Wynette's version is pure country. And the Motörhead and Lyle Lovett versions, in case you hadn't noticed, are sung by men — which makes them ironic. That is, unless Lemmy or Lyle are actually gay. In which case… does it still make your list?

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

As a final note, in the Most Conservative Rock Songs Article Part Deux article, John makes the challenge: "I’d love to see someone assemble of list of the 50 best left-wing country songs."

Know what I say to that? Easy. I know next to nothing about country music, but off the top of my head: "The Man in Black" by Johnny Cash, "We Shall Be Free" by Garth Brooks, "Passionate Kisses" by Lucinda Williams, everything Willie Nelson and Steve Earle have ever done, and oh, I don't know, pick a few songs by any of these artists to round out the top 50.

  • The Dixie Chicks
  • The Drive-By Truckers
  • Neko Case
  • Jimmie Dale Gilmore
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • Pam Ellis
  • The Gourds
  • Arlo Guthrie
  • Woody Guthrie
  • Emmylou Harris
  • Faith Hill
  • The Jayhawks
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • K.D. Lang
  • Tim McGraw
  • The Old 97s
  • Jessie Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter
  • Wilco
  • Dwight Yokam
  • Neil Young

I'm sure I've forgotten tons. Send me more and I'll add 'em to the list.

Imaginary Update: additional links of interest:

{Huge special thanks to Lawrence, Kaley, Brian, embracey, Liz, and Estey for their help with this one. Mwah mwah mwah!!}