Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan said one of his favorite bands is Rage Against The Machine. The band’s guitarist, Tom Morello, wrote a response to him in Rolling Stone, saying that Ryan’s beliefs are antithetical to what the band believes, and what their lyrics say. But, Morello notes, Ryan says “he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics.”
I’ve never understood that. I don’t know much about music, so I just listen to it as background to the lyrics. If I like the lyrics, I’ll like the song. If I don’t, I won’t. That doesn’t mean I don’t care at all about the music, but it’s definitely a secondary element for me.
That said, it’s easy to like music that is ideologically opposite from oneself. I like a lot of Marty Robbins‘s songs, even though he was a hardcore conservative. I think Warren Zevon was a conservative as well, but he’s still one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever.
Anyway, Paul Ryan says he likes RATM’s “sound”. I’ve only heard a few songs by them, and they seem like the sort of thing he would like. Too much random loud noise and screaming of the lyrics for my taste; makes them hard to understand. It’s too bad, because the lyrics themselves are pretty good. If Ryan is just in it for the “sound”, I’d have to say he’s lucky he still has his hearing.
As Morello is winding down his article, he writes:
But Rage’s music affects people in different ways. Some tune out what the band stands for and concentrate on the moshing and throwing elbows in the pit. For others, Rage has changed their minds and their lives. Many activists around the world, including organizers of the global occupy movement, were radicalized by Rage Against the Machine and work tirelessly for a more humane and just planet. Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening.
I think Morello is making a mistake here, because I suspect that most of the band’s success comes from those same “moshers”. Morello shouldn’t insult them, even if he is understandably upset that one of them is a candidate for national office despite not listening to the band’s message.
While we’re on the subject, why are so many irrelevant details of Paul Ryan’s life making the news? First there was the thing about his clothes, now it’s his musical tastes. People are also excited about his hobby, bow-hunting. (Ugh!) Although at least that’s tangentially related to his policy decisions, because one of his major achievements is lowering taxes on arrow makers.