Keep On Rockin' in the Free World

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 31, 2006 8:47 AM

That headline is shamelessly stolen from Karol at Alarming News, where guest-blogger Dorian Davis is creating his own list of top conservative rock/pop songs. I thought this choice was interesting (although I'm not a big fan of the song itself):

9) "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" by Paula Cole (1998) – Paula Cole arrives at ninth place with her anti-feminist anthem, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" Vowing to stay home, and raise her children, while her spouse pays the bills, Cole bucks feminist theory that women have to work professionally to have a purpose in life.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Storer writes that he thinks Paula Cole's song may be a sarcastic take on the conservative lifestyle. The chorus sounds promising, but the verse lyrics are more acerbic. Y'all can check them out and judge the tone.

Storer also suggests Boingo's "Only a Lad," which features these lyrics:

Only a lad/ He really couldn't help it/ Only a lad/ He didn't want to do it/ Only a lad/ He's underprivileged and abused/ Perhaps a little bit confused

It's not his fault that he can't believe/ It's not his fault that he can't behave/Society made him go astray/ Perhaps if we're nice he'll go away

John J. Miller, of course, started the debate last week with his Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs.

Bruce Bartlett put together a Top 40 list back in 2002.

The Washington Post's Jabari Asim counters with a Progressive Top Five, here. In so doing, he throws the race card:

The list is intended to be provocative because rock is often considered a focal point of progressive sentiments. What I found far more striking, however, was the relative whiteness of the artists. Exactly when did rock 'n' roll, once the province of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, become so white? The only black band listed is Living Colour, whose "Cult of Personality" is less a praise song to conservatism than a blast at egotistical leadership of any political stripe.

The National Review list suggests that blacks have become little more than a footnote to a cultural phenomenon they are largely responsible for creating -- or, more plausibly, that black conservatives rarely express themselves via rock songwriting.

Robert A. George ("OK, I'm the Catholic, West Indian black Republican. Any one else here? Ah, I thought not.") responds to both lists:

Each ignores James Brown's late '60s period which produced both "Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud" -- which could be considered the prototype liberal "identity politics" anthem -- and the fiercely self-reliant "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open the Door, I'll Get It Myself)." Hello, conservatives! This is the guy who endorsed Richard Nixon a few years later! Conversely, even though Asim expands the definition of what "rock" is, he manages to look only at the black music of the Sixties and Seventies and completely overlooks the most blatantly political music of recent years -- rap. Public Enemy, anyone?

UPDATE 1:12p.m.: My dad reminds me that one of my favorite songs is really conservative-- "Patches," by Clarence Carter.

It's about self-reliance, hard work and family values. Plus, it's a great song.

Another John Locke Foundation blogger is creating a list of conservative hip-hop and R&B songs.

I'd suggest Nick Cannon's "Can I Live?" which I mentioned last week.