“The financial crisis has been a difficult topic for songwriters to wrestle with,” Dorian Lynskey told The New York Times last year. “What do you say about a financial crisis where the villains are obscure and the solutions are obscure? That’s a challenge.” The idea that there’s not much political music being made these days has been a popular one of late, but frankly, we’re having none of it. Sure, perhaps there aren’t the flag-waving anthems that characterize the ’60s, but there are still plenty of politically aware songwriters these days. Why, this very week, there are at least two politically weighty records dropping — the new Bruce Springsteen album, and the official release of Cass McCombs’ song about Bradley Manning. We thought we’d celebrate with a selection of the finest lyrics thus far about 21st-century politics. Suggestions are, as ever, welcome.
Cass McCombs — “Bradley Manning”
Bradley Manning — traitor or heroic whistleblower? For such a controversial figure, Manning (and, for that matter, Julian Assange) have been curiously under-represented in song, but Cass McCombs is doing his best to redress the balance with this track, which he debuted on the website of independent news program Democracy Now! last December. McCombs’ song takes the latter view of Manning, which will doubtless endear him to right-wing shock jocks the nation over.