It’s tough to know what to do right now. So many examples exist of the type of incompetent, petulant and inexperienced presidency we’ll have under he who shall not be named. Those who rely on Planned Parenthood for health screenings are worried it will no longer be available. Those who rely on the Affordable Care Act to be able to afford cancer treatments are worried they’ll have to choose between medication and food. Those who are LGBT and are married are worried they’ll no longer have the legal right to do so. It’s trying times for everyone.
But no matter how depressing, hopeless or insurmountable these troubles seem to be, we cannot give in. We must keep fighting for equality, we must resist bigotry and we must stand up for our fellow humans. No one should have to walk down the street or enter a bathroom in fear. Let your voices be heard. Join that protest, call that representative, speak out against hate. The battle is lost, but the war rages on. And we cannot be implicit to tyranny.
I wanted to distract you today. Because sometimes distracting yourself with something that makes you feel good is okay. Getting so angry you want to punch a bag for an hour is okay too. Reading everything you can on a topic is good, paying attention is good, caring about who wins the Super Bowl is good.
We are humans, we can do more than one thing and feel more than one way at a time. It’s how we know we still have a pulse. It’s cathartic, it’s motivating, it inspires sympathy. All of it is good.
Anyway, here’s another music countdown for Stephen Lachky to enjoy.
Some songs are just so raunchy, so groovy, so deliciously evil that you can’t help but bang your head, purse your lips and feel like you want to run through a damn brick wall. These are not songs that are necessarily violent in nature; “evil” in this context means I stood back from the speakers, said to myself, “whoa, what is this?” and relished in the malevolent guitar licks or passionate lyrics.
This is not a “they’re so bad, they’re good” song list, and none of these are of the death metal variety. Many of these songs make the list in part because you don’t expect the artist to be so sinister in their songwriting or their musical composition. The type of songs I looked for here are tough to describe. So it’s best to just let the music sing for itself.
10. Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones
The use of the sitar during the instrumental portions of the song is absolutely the best thing about it. It’s what gives the melody that malevolent feel (along with Mick Jagger’s humming at the end). “Paint It Black” has been used in a few war movies – most notably the end credits of Full Metal Jacket, which had it’s own symbolic oxymoron when the actors march through Vietnam singing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song – and for good reason. The despair the lyrics describe contrast with the hypnotizing rhythm.
9. Politician – Cream
“Hey now baby, get into my big black car. I wanna just show ya, what my politics are.” I mean really, do I need to say more? That’s a lot of shadowy, creepy evil in one lyric. The riff is the perfect accompaniment.
8. April 29, 1992 – Sublime
I personally have never viewed this song as advocating violence; rather, it points out the hypocrisies which existed – and still exist today – when Rodney King was nearly beaten to death by four police officers, all of whom were acquitted. This sparked the Los Angeles riots, which claimed 55 lives and caused more than $1 billion in damage. It was a day when no one was in the right.
7. Bullet the Blue Sky – U2
It’s the bassline. Adam Clayton gives a thumping introduction to the Edge’s piercing guitar and Bono’s lyrics, which describe the cataclysmic violence of war and all the death it causes.
6. Achilles Last Stand – Led Zeppelin
John Bonham and Jimmy Page together are what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The explosion of sound runs for close to 10 minutes, enough to melt your face completely. I honestly have no idea what the song is about, but it sounds like they’re trying to escape something just as fast as those chasing them, which makes the drum breakdowns and Page’s guitar riff so exhausting.
5. Down Rodeo – Rage Against the Machine
Tom Morello, master of sinister guitar licks, pulls out all the stops here, as does lead singer Zach de la Rocha. The lyrics are rebellious (understatement of the year) and the guitar riff signals the doom sure to appear on the horizon should we fall back into the sins of our past.
4. Seeds – Bruce Springsteen
Nils Lofgren’s guitar serves as the perfect backdrop for the story of a man and his family struggling to escape poverty. “How many times can ya get up after you’ve been hit? Well I swear if I could spare the spit I’d lay one on your shiny clothes, and send you on your way back home.” I think there’s about 68 million people (at least) who feel this way about a certain someone.
3. Helter Skelter – The Beatles
As noted in my previous music post, this song was released before Charles Manson ran amok like Jake Torrance. Still, the intro guitar riff is merely foreshadowing the pure insanity that’s to follow for the next four minutes.
2. Halloween – Dave Matthews Band
The story is that Dave Matthews wrote this song about a woman who turned him down all four times he asked her to marry him. Love is but a cruel punch to the gut sometimes. Although that woman did inspire one of the most energetically angry songs I’ve ever heard. This song legit scared me the first time I heard it.
1. Welcome To the Machine – Pink Floyd
This is the Stranger Things of evil music. The Machine knows where you’ve been, it knows all your misgivings, and it can tell you what to dream. David Gilmour’s voice is positively haunting as the synthesizer plays lasers through you. My only wish is that the keyboard outro lasted longer.
Have any thoughts on this list? Let me know in the comments. A discussion of music is the perfect way to spend a day like today.
If I may be permitted one final word: thank you, President Obama. One day we’ll all realize that we took your grace, humility, integrity and devotion to the good of the people for granted.