August 14, 2008

I agree with John McCain

The AP reports:

WASHINGTON -- Barack Obama and John McCain agree on Frank Sinatra.

The two presidential candidates offered widely different top 10 favorite songs to Blender magazine but shared the same appreciation for Ol' Blue Eyes. Obama chose "You'd Be So Easy to Love," while McCain liked "I've Got You Under My Skin."

In the September issue, on sale nationwide Tuesday, the candidates delivered their list.

McCain prefers ABBA's disco classic "Dancing Queen." Obama favors the hip-hop jam "Ready or Not" by the Fugees.

Obama, the Illinois Democrat, chose Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" as his No. 2 pick after the Fugees. Songs "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stone's "Gimme Shelter" and Nina Simone's "Sinnerman" rounded out his leading five.

Other artists on Obama's list were Kanye West, U2 and Aretha Franklin. The contender also gave a nod to will.i.am and his Internet sensation, "Yes We Can," which was written for Obama.

ABBA made McCain's list twice. "Take A Chance On Me" came in third among the Arizona Republican's picks. Rocker Roy Orbison's "Blue Bayou" ranked second. Country singer Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December" and Dooley Wilson's "As Time Goes By" were in his top five.

McCain also selected songs from the Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong, Neil Diamond and The Platters.

"Dancing Queen" isn't my favorite song of all time, but, man, is it ever great. I recall going to a concert decades ago of some critics' favorite like Peter Tosh or Gang of Four, and when it was over, the concert hall put on "Dancing Queen" as the most Top 40 hit imaginable to clear everybody out pronto. For the next few days, I couldn't remember any songs by the esteemed band I'd seen and I couldn't get "Dancing Queen" out of my head.

Also, Frank Sinatra's version of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" is perfection. And I was watching "Casablanca" last year, and after a half hour or so, I was thinking, "This isn't really as good as I remember." Then, boom, they start the song up. "As Time Goes By" makes "Casablanca" "Casablanca."

In contrast, Obama's list seems finicky, pretentious, and political. "Gimme Shelter" is the intellectual's favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," "Honky-Tonk Women," and (by commenter's reminder) "Brown Sugar." (I don't think Mrs. Obama would approve of that one.) "What's Going On" is nice, but critics rave over it because it's politically leftist, unlike 99.9% of the great songs of the 1964-1971 era.

It's quite funny, actually, how there's so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies. It drives critics crazy. When it comes to politics, you tend to get Lafferite ("Taxman" and "Ball of Confusion") or anti-radical ("Revolution," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Streetfighting Man," "Won't Get Fooled Again," and a bunch of Kinks songs). "Fortunate Son" is a great song, but it's pure redneck populism. Bob Dylan, the critics' hero, actually wrecked the one leftist musical form, folk, first by taking it introspective and away from picket-line singalongs, then dumping it for electric guitar rock.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

46 comments:

headache said...

I'm a German and my favourite serious musician is Bach. I also like down-and-dirty traditional Bavarian and Tiroler oompah music, the type you listen to whilst emptying your latest 1 liter mug of beer. So I guess I won't commetn on this American stuff.

rightsaidfred said...

I'm surprised Obama didn't throw in something like Beethoven's Ninth as a bone for his urban elite cohort.

Half Sigma said...

Obama is too young to be a Frank Sinatra fan. That's old fogie music. He's obviously trying to reach out to senior citizen voters.

Usually Lurking said...

I am a big fan of the Rock Critic Dave Marsh, especially his Rolling Stone Guide to music that was published in 1982 when he was editor of that magazine.

I remember he was reviewing one song in particular(I don't remember which one exactly) and saying that FINALLY the Left had a song that said what they wanted to say.

That is, it was really the only song he could name, and like, that had an explicit Leftist message.

Barry Wood said...

Buffalo Springfield's "For What its Worth" is one of the few political songs from the sixties that still stands up.
It is standard accompaniment to any footage of helicopters flying over Vietnam such as in the new "Tropical Thunder".

Groove Digger said...

Music is for Neolithic shemales. Upon discovering that pretty much all music post 1920 is subversive Marxism I just don't listen to it much anymore. Except Zeppelin, The White Man's Musical Trump Card. Even LL Cool J would concede that Zeppelin trumps all. Are there any right wing artists? I suppose they would freak me out a little bit if they actually existed. Turns out Clapton is an Enoch Powell man, but that is the rare exception to the rule.

I can only handle so much Mozart and Beethoven until I say "OK, fuck off with the violins, I need an electric guitar, now."

I just don't get Sinatra and big band at all, though (I'm 37). It has to be kitsch. Remember the "Admit It, It Sucks" column Spy used to run? The one featuring Jazz was my favourite.

I'm quite concerned over the lack of white artists today. Most white bands are like "My girl left me and stole my Ritalin, wah wah wah", can't blame the white kids too much for giving that the finger. In Europe they at least have that techno to fill the void.

Outis said...

"Gimme Shelter" is the intellectual's favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," and "Honky-Tonk Women."

Dare I suggest "Brown Sugar"? I do so dare!

Anonymous said...

After the grief Michelle's given him, Barack would have sent the nation a clearer message if he'd selected the Stones' "Under My Thumb".

I suppose any attempt to elicit ten choices of concert hall music from either candidate would be greeted by the GOP booboisie's appointed media spokesmen with the same faux-populist derision that they applied to the disgraceful ability of John Kerry to speak a foreign language.

KevinV said...

Speaking of Gang of Four, I always found them to be the best leftist band. Inventive, innovative, almost always interesting, and a steady leftist critique.

I don't agree with much of the politics anymore, but they are a great band.

Anonymous said...

Well at least you aren't talking about the Anthrax case anymore.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2008/08/hair_doesnt_match_anthrax_susp.html

Tim Osman

dearieme said...

@headache, I heard a busker at an U-bahn station playing Bach on the accordion a few years ago. It worked surprisingly well. Only days before I had heard a startlingly good electric guitar version of Ellington's "It don't mean a thing.." busked in deepest rural England. Bach and Ellington: infinitely better than bloody rock music.

ben tillman said...

I am a big fan of the Rock Critic Dave Marsh, especially his Rolling Stone Guide to music that was published in 1982....

Marsh was the ultimate in arrogant "gatekeepers". His review of the B-52's in the Rolling Stone Record Guide sums up his attitude: "The conceit here is that the pop ready-mades of the pre-Beatle Sixties and the dance rhythms of the late Seventies are ripe for synthesis by a band of Georgia Bohemians." No, Dave, the conceit is in your self-image.

Upon discovering that pretty much all music post 1920 is subversive Marxism I just don't listen to it much anymore. Except Zeppelin, The White Man's Musical Trump Card.

Rolling Stone *really* hated Zeppelin in the early days. You may have figured out why.

ben tillman said...

Steve, you've got great taste in music.

It's quite funny, actually, how there's so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies.

What about the Airplane, from Volunteers onward? "Got to revolution"?

LemmusLemmus said...

The real story here is that journalists ask presidential candidates about their favourite songs, and candidates feel compelled to answer. I mean, how irrelevant is that? Me, I like the Sex Pistols, but I'm certainly not up for anarchy, either in the U.K. or anywhere else.

SKT said...

I've always been amused by how the biggest peacenik hippy singer of all time Cat Stevens, became an ultra-orthodox Muslim.

Eric said...

I find laughable the idea either list has any connection whatsoever to the respective candidate's musical tastes. Both lists were generated by political operatives and carefully focus-group tested.

Anonymous said...

Groove digger,
please explain, Led Zep as 'the White Man's musical trump card'.

Bemused Brit who Led Zep once and can still here them now!!!

Richard

SFG said...

"As Time Goes By" makes "Casablanca" "Casablanca."
Actually, I remember the bit where the Marseillaise drowns out the Germans, but that's just me. And they stole that from Jean Cocteau, no?

I'm a German and my favourite serious musician is Bach. I also like down-and-dirty traditional Bavarian and Tiroler oompah music, the type you listen to whilst emptying your latest 1 liter mug of beer. So I guess I won't commetn on this American stuff.
Nuttin' wrong with traditional music. I remember sitting through one of these music survey courses, and they were going over the Middle Ages and playing some lugubrious medieval chant. Probably as a sop to postmodernism, they also played a medieval jig, and I remember thinking, "Hey! I could actually dance to this!"

Oh, and I know I'm not supposed to, but I really dig Rammstein.


Of course I'm sure these lists are all calculated for electoral consumption. McCain probably only digs old 40s and 50s big-band stuff, and Obama probably listens to 50 Cent.

Martin said...

"ben tillman said...

Rolling Stone *really* hated Zeppelin in the early days. You may have figured out why."

I never thought of the Stones as a particularly political group. To me they seemed to be the very embodiment of Rock and Roll - anarchic, primal, high-steppin music, just played for a good time, and mostly apolitical.

Apropos of music, and in honor of Isaac Hayes (RIP):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfK-UzQ48JE

James said...

Imagine is leftist, is it not?

Muswell Hillbilly said...

The 60's lyrics aren't explicitly Leftist, but they sure use the word "revolution" a lot. Most boomers were too comfortable, lazy and selfish to really want a proper Leftist revolution, so "revolution" seems to have come to mean, "all the cool, fun vibes we young folk are engaging in." It didn't really mean anything... it was almost verbal filler.

Muswell Hillbilly said...

And with my screen-name, how can I not comment on the Kinks in this context?

Ray Davies seemed to be an "anywhere but here" type, and so he seemed put off by the whole 60's enthusiasm for the new youth culture, while still maintaining a sort of old-fashioned sense of solidarity with the poor and working classes ("Fortunate Son" with a sense of humor and a cockney accent).

Michael said...

Good posting. I'd love to see you write more on pop music.

Julie Burchill used to enjoy mocking fellow rock journalists about their fantasies and distortions. They'd go on and on about how various punk rockers represented this leftie thing or that leftie thing. Meanwhile, said Julie (who knew many of the punks), the reality was that most of the musicians were working-class boys who liked booze and girls and didn't want to have to work for a living.

Hey, if I can be forgiven a bit of self-promo: a posting I wrote about Gang of Four, a band I really enjoyed.

Ross "the Boss" Friedman said...

All of you girls should bow down to the tesosterone-powered brilliance of MANOWAR!

Not only are they the Guinness Book-certified loudest band in the world and popular in Bulgaria and Chile, their lyrics are politically prescient:

"Three sons have I, and they ride by my side. The Fierce. The Black. And the Wicked are their names."

Which of course, are clearly McCain, Obama, and their equivalent handlers.

MANOWAR!

Reg Cæsar said...

McCain prefers ABBA's disco classic "Dancing Queen."

"Dancing Queen", and for that matter Leo Sayers' "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", were not disco. Any more than "Limbo Rock" was rock, or "Singin' the Blues" was blues, or "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" was bossa nova. (Two of those last three were calypso!)

Just 'cause a song is set in a disco doesn't qualify it as disco.

If you want a real laugh, listen to the Boswell Sisters sing the 1934 hit "Rock and Roll", by Richard Whiting and Sidney Clare. Whiting (father of singer Margaret) died in 1938, probably with nary an inkling of the career in store for the term.

Reg Cæsar said...

It's quite funny, actually, how there's so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies.

You mean in memorable rock songs. Actually, there's very little political content in any worthwhile art. (And when there is, e.g. Baum's "The Wizard of Oz" series, it's not always recognizable anyway.)

Few people are aware that Cole Porter wrote just as many soppy, romantic songs as he did witty, cynical ones. They just weren't as good, and are mostly forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Wow, ben tillman, a commenter I usually regard with distaste and skip over due to his obsessive take on a particular topic (guess which one), is knowledgable about 60's/70's rock and rock criticism. My horizons have been exapnded!

VG said...

I always thought "Dancing Queen" was one hell of a song but could never say it out loud lest people think I'm gay!

Bill said...

These sorts of things force me to accept how utterly unsuited I am for politics.

How many people would vote for a guy who likes to listen to Metallica while reading the Iliad?

Orion, a purely instrumental piece, is composed such that it enhances the Iliad's battle scenes beautifully.

headache said...

dearieme said...
"I heard a busker at an U-bahn station playing Bach on the accordion a few years ago. It worked surprisingly well. "

Yes, in Cologne I heard a Russian trio on accordians playing some famous Bach organ pieces and a few melancholic and deeply moving Russian folk songs. I don't know why we are running after African beats and style music when western nations have so much culture to reach back on. Locked up in all the western folk music, whether Russian, Tirolean, Bavarian, or French lies a huge reservoir of potential for rock bands. Why don't they reach into that instead of trying to emulate the African big rap men. Rap is so anti-european mentality. Rap has zero creativity, its just about rythm and being the big man on the block, with all the sex, foul language, drugs violence and power games.

John of London said...

"It's quite funny, actually, how there's so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies. "
What on earth is funny about that? Rock music was and is a commodity produced by corporations for sale to the the juvenile masses. So are rock "musicians". Do the corporations want a real "revolution"? And is politics going to put under-age girls in the mood to have sex? Why should rock fans buy political songs - they're too young to vote (or 30-something retards). And who's going to take a political lead from a multi-millionaire who just wants to take more drugs and have sex with more bimbos?
For political songs you have to turn to music for grown-ups. The greatest political song of my lifetime, in terms of both music and politics, is "Mississipi Goddam" by Nina Simone; but maybe not a vote-winner. All-time greats include "Poor Man's Blues" recorded by Bessie Smith and "Same Old South" by Count Basie's band, and above all "Strange Fruit" as recorded by Billie Holiday (Not as by Diana Ross). There was a lot of politics in Tom Lehrer's songs, and maybe Randy Newman's; neither was singing for "the Kids".
I'm always a little puzzled that no country singers have anything to say about the way the mining companies are trashing their Tennessee Mountain Home.

simon newman said...

Taking it that these lists are politically influenced:

If Obama's handlers had any sense they'd have followed McCain in including some credible country & western. Johhny Cash is appropriately populist (and excellent); Steve Earle is good but probably a bit too leftist for the desired blue-collar-Ohio demographic. Obama did include one Springsteen song (a low-key ballad about somewhat dubious lust), but I don't think that'll cut it. Been better off with 'Born in the USA'.

dearieme said...

"Johhny Cash is appropriately populist (and excellent)": my daughter and I have taken to dueting Mr Cash's oeuvre in rich pirate accents - "Ring of Foire" etc. V droll.

vanya said...

"Gimme Shelter" is the intellectual's favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," and "Honky-Tonk Women."

I can't believe Steve hasn't been attacked more for this ridiculous assertion. "Get Off My Cloud" and "LSNT" are fun for maybe 3 listens, then quickly become tiresome. "Gimme Shelter" is one of the classic rock songs of all time. I nominate "Live With Me" though as the most fun RS song, with the funniest lyrics.

albertosaurus said...

About three years ago I double dated with a friend of mine and some Georgian girls. They were crazy to hear Paata Burcheladze. They dragged us to the stage door to meet him and try to get him to go out with us.

Since he is indisputably the greatest Georgian singer of the day, I think both candidates missed an opportunity to list him among their favorites.

Ross "The Boss" Friedman said...

bill,

On their album The Triumph of Steel, Manowar has a 28 minute paean to Achilles - "Achilles, Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts".

MANOWAR!

Richard A. said...

"If you want a real laugh, listen to the Boswell Sisters sing the 1934 hit "Rock and Roll", by Richard Whiting and Sidney Clare. Whiting (father of singer Margaret) died in 1938, probably with nary an inkling of the career in store for the term."

From youtube -- The Boswell Sisters sing "Rock and Roll".
http://tinyurl.com/6pl5n6

Anthony said...

There was a bunch of anti-war music from that period, but most of it was really just anti-war - it lacked the intellectual depth to be considered "leftist".

beowulf said...

I always thought Midnight Rambler was the Rolling Stones's best song. Not that a politician is going to plug a song about "hit and run, raper invader", but its a kickass tune.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUZM5YlMr6I

Sorry for the crummy video, but I liked this live version (the audio is from the 1969 concert album, Get your Ya-Ya's Out) because its from back before the Stones just phoned it in.

As some rock critic or another put it, if only the Stones had all died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1969, they'd be remembered as the greatest band of all time. Oh well. :o)

Anonymous said...

What next? Favorite Classic TV shows? McCain no doubt is entranced by Gilligans Island--"That Gilligan,if he was under my command,I tell ya I'd whupp his skinny ass on a daily basis,,,". Obama? Sanford and Son,of course!

Anonymous said...

Rolling Stone *really* hated Zeppelin in the early days. You may have figured out why.

I have a little pet theory that groups that piss off both the Left and the Right* are often the ones worth listening to. I remember reading Abbie Hoffman's autobiography and he groused about Black Sabbath (the Ozzy lineup) appearing at some music festival he was agitating at. I also recall the Left getting all huffy about Devo. And I'm pretty sure at least half of Rolling Stone's Baby Boomer-age writers took early retirement when Dylan came out with his gospel rock. (I once commented to a non-Christian acquaintance and talented bass guitarist that I thought Dylan's gospel rock was his most musically proficient phase and he agreed.)

* - And by "Right" in this context what I really mean are neo-Puritans.

--Senor Doug

James said...

Oh yeah and there's Neil Young.

Anonymous said...

"Gimme Shelter" is the intellectual's favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," and "Honky-Tonk Women."

I think time will prove Gimme Shelter to be the best Stones song. Having Scorcese use Gimme Shelter in Goodfellas, Casino, and The Departed gives the song a tremendous evolutionary advantage over the rest.

PrestoPundit said...

One of Obama's favorite singers is Bob Dylan, and his favorite Dylan song is crappy music, but full of anti-work, anti-family, and "anti-establishment" hostility, i.e. it's the political song / metaphorical song "Maggie's Farm". What it says about Obama, who's to say. He's repeatedly said he didn't like work, whenever he had a "real job", so perhaps that the main connection to the song for Obama. Or he's just obsessed with left wing politics. Ref:

http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blogs/stumper/archive/2008/06/26/obama-names-his-favorite-dylan-song-is-there-a-message.aspx

PrestoPundit said...

Best Rolling Stones (live of and long ago, of course):

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Sympathy for the Devil

PrestoPundit said...

Left one out:

Can't you hear me knockin'

May be the best of the best