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Any Major Dude Kills Fascism

January 19th, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

Here’s a mix to celebrate the end of the most toxic US presidency in the past 150 years (or more, depending on how you count these things), with the theme of anti-fascism. It might get me implicated by Rhyming Slang Carlson over in Crazy Town as a provocateur in the actions of seditious Nazis, but that’s the least of my problems. Rhyming Slang and his fellow superannuated school ground bullies think that being anti-fascist is a bad thing, and I can hear the whole Fox gang spitting bile to the effect that of course they are not for fascism. But what are we to call people who on principle — rather than by the misleading slander of Antifa by Rhyming Slang, Sphincter Mouth and friends — actively oppose anti-fascism? Let’s call them, for little want of a better word, what they are: fascists.  If the jackboot fits, wear it comfortably.

Many anti-fascist songs tend to be not up my alley. Much of it is punk or hardcore, genres which I approach with admiration for spirit but musically with a selective mind. Lyrically, many are trite (step up, Graham Nash), or are good but approach the subject matter in such a way that it can be appropriated by assholes in horns or red caps. For example, I might have considered Rage Against The Machines’ left-wing anthem Take The Power Back, but that is exactly what these Ted Nugents would write on their MAGA placards.

I have also excluded songs about racism, racist oppression or civil rights, because there is a series on that theme already underway. I couldn’t include Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Won’t Be Televised, because a couple of weeks ago, an attempt at revolution was televised. I also didn’t include John Fogerty’s track Weeping In The Promised Land, on account of it having just been released. And I excluded the very obvious pick, Dead Kennedy’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off, on account of musical aesthetics, even though it features the important line: “In a real Fourth Reich, you’d be the first to go.”

Lastly, I excluded political songs that are very potent but aim its critique at the entire system which needs overthrowing (such as, say, Public Enemy’s Fight The Power), the crime of racism (which is covered in the Protest Soul mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Vol. 3) or war (see the anti-Vietnam War mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).

But we are left with a good selection, ranging from the old Italian anti-Mussolini partisan song Ciao Bella and memories of street battles against fascists in London’s Cable Street or Bob Dylan’s own history lessons to Pink Floyd’s perspective of the fascist to the obvious (like American Idiot, here in a live version), to Curtis Mayfield’s message of hope, which should resonate with every decent American right now. And, of course, Woody Guthrie — whose guitar inspired this mix’s rather hopeful title — features twice, by himself and in his song covered by Billy Bragg & Wilco.

Woody Guthrie and his fascist-killing machine (colourised picture).

 

Most of these songs are sweeping in their anti-fascism —Heaven 17 deliver pretty much what their title promise: informing us that we, in fact, do not need the fascist groove thang (though our interlocutors on the subject may need spelling lessons). Others qualify by dint of a line or two, such as the one in the Pogues song which refers to the protagonist having “decked some fucking blackshirt” (the line ends with a word I’d not like to reproduce, even as I assume it was used ironically in relation to the decked blackshirt).

Bright Blue’s Weeping, released in 1987 at the height of apartheid’s last stand, is a critique of the racist and, indeed, fascist system from which South Africa is still trying to recover, but it can apply to all notions of totalitarianism. Weeping was a hit on white South African radio, despite its subversive sample of the then-banned struggle (and now national) anthem Nkosi Sikeli’ Africa.

In his song, protest-singer Phil Ochs aims his guitar at Richard Nixon, but replace the name of the president who quit before he could be impeached with that of the president who has been impeached twice, and the message barely changes.

A special word for Depeche Mode, whose left-wing members are puzzled by their popularity with the so-called alt.right. Their 1983 song Everything Counts features here, partly idiotic lyrics notwithstanding. But as we wave goodbye to old Sphinctermouth, I think this verse (in which I replace one little word for another) anticipated him by more than three decades: “The graph on the wall / Tells the story of it all / Picture it now / See just how, the lies and deceit / Gained a little more power / Confidence taken in by a spray tan and a grin.”

Fascism isn’t a US problem only, obviously. Almost all of Latin America has suffered from fascism. Democratic systems in Europe and Britain are infected by that disease, Australia is flirting with it, and the Nazis in Chinos have entered the mainstream in France and Germany, two countries whose experience with fascism should serve as a deterrent to that philosophy.

This is not a complete selection of anti-fascist songs, of course, and you are free — for freedom is what we demand! — to list your nominations in the comments section.

As always, CD-R length, home-streetbattled covers, PW in comments.

1. Woody Guthrie – Tear The Fascists Down (1944)
2. Chumbawamba – On The Day The Nazi Died (1993)
3. Heaven 17 – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (1981)
4. Depeche Mode – Everything Counts (1983)
5. Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998)
6. Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Night Rally (1977)
7. Pink Floyd – Waiting For The Worms (1979)
8. Bright Blue – Weeping (1987)
9. Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes (1971)
10. Curtis Mayfield – Keep On Keeping On (1971)
11. Bama The Village Poet – Justice Isn’t Blind (1972)
12. Stevie Wonder – Big Brother (1972)
13. Phil Ochs – Here’s To The State Of Richard Nixon (1974)
14. Bob Dylan – Only A Pawn In Their Game (1964)
15. Billy Bragg & Wilco – All You Fascists (2000)
16. Sonic Youth – Youth Against Fascism (1992)
17. Green Day – American Idiot (Iive) (2005)
18. The Beat – Two Swords (1980)
19. The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Ghosts Of Cable Street (1986)
20. The Pogues – The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn (1985)
21. Marc Ribot – Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful) (2018)
22. Les Misérables – Do You Hear The People Sing (1987)
BONUS:
Sham 69 – If The Kids Are United (1978)
Woody Guthrie & Sonny Terry – All You Fascists Bound To Lose (1944)

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  1. amdwhah
    January 19th, 2021 at 09:08 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Roberto Lionel Barreiro Figueroa
    January 19th, 2021 at 16:31 | #2

    thank you. as always a fascinating mix

    btw, bella ciao was just get a surge of popularity in latin america because was included as a title song of a series

  3. Rat-a-tat-tat
    January 19th, 2021 at 18:50 | #3

    Well chosen, as always, and I have learned a lot.

  4. Ines
    January 22nd, 2021 at 12:32 | #4

    Thank you for this mix and the background detail you always give – I appreciate the time and loving effort you make.

    In these times it so appropriate you raise these songs, so that we do not forget the struggles of the past and those who fought against injustice and evil in song. It is the fact that many have forgotten or worse misappropriated with lies about the past that has allowed the situation of the last 4 years to arise and be accepted.

    As you mentioned the below mixes, would it be possible to have these again, as only Songs About Vietnam Volume 1 is still available.
    Protest Soul mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and Vol. 3)
    Anti-Vietnam War mixes: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

    Thank you and one love, Ines

  5. Neil
    April 10th, 2021 at 08:33 | #5

    Robert Cray asks, “Who is this man?”; the refrain: “Get him out.”

    The Robert Cray Band “This Man” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k03dsRUVbcQ

  6. Neil
    April 14th, 2021 at 05:10 | #6

    Chain Lightning by Steely Dan is striking for both its musical brilliance and the sideways manner in which the listener is invited to think about what goes on in the minds of those becoming enthralled with political demagoguery.

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