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Monday, June 12, 2006
A conservative journal spins the top 50 conservative rock songs of all time.

On first glance, rock n' roll music isn't very conservative.It doesn't fare much better on second or third glance (or listen), either. Neil Young has a new song called "Let's Impeach the President". Last year, the Rolling Stones made news with "Sweet Neo Con", another anti-Bush ditty.

But when rock songs really are conservative - and there are more of them than you might think. Last year, I asked readers of National Review OnLine to nominate conservative rock songs.Hundreds of suggestion poured in. I've siftted through them all, downloaded scores of mp3s, and puzzled over a lot of the lyrics. What follows is a list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time, as determined by me and few others.

What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song.We're biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed ina few little known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don't hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, bit we've made an effort to cast a wide net. Woever said diversity isn't a conservative principle?

So here are National Review's top 50 conservative rock songs of all time. Go ahead and quibble with the rankings, complain about what we put on. In the end, though, we hope you'll admit that its' a pretty cool playlist for your iPod.

1. "Won't Get Fooled Again", by the Who.
The conservative movement is full of disilutioned revolutionaries; this could be their them song, an oath that swears off naive idealism once and for all. "There's nothing in the streets/Look any different to me/And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye....Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss".

2. "Taxman", by the Beatles.
A George Harrison masterpiece with a famous guitar riff: "If your drive a car, I'll tax your seat/If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat/If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet". The song closes with a humorous jab at a death taxes: "Now my advice for those who die/Decalre the pennies on your eyes."

3. "Sympathy for the Devil", by the Rolling Stones.
The devil is a tempter who leans hard on moral relativism - he will try to make you think that "every cop is a criminal/And all the sinners saints." What's more, he is the sinister inspiration for the cruelties of Bolshevism; "I stuck around St. Petersburg/When I saw it was a time for a change/Killed the czar and his ministers/Anastasia screamed in vain."

4. "Sweet Home Alabama", by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A tribute to the region of America that liberlas love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young's Canadian arrogance along the way: " A Southern man don't need him around anyhow".

5. "Wouldn't It Be Nice", the the Beach Boys.
Pro-abstinecne and pro-marraige; "Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray itmight come true/Baby then there wouldn't be a single thing we couldn't do/We could be married/And then we'd be happy."

6. "Gloria," by U2.
Just because a rock song is about faith does'nt mean that it's conservative. But what about a rock song that's about faith and whose chorus is in Latin? That's beautifully reactionary: "Gloria/In te domine/Gloria/Exultate."

7. "Revolution," by the Beatles.
"You say you want a revolution/Well you know/We all want to change the world...Don't you know you can count me out?" What's more, Communism isn't even cool: "If you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao/You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow."

8. "Bodies", by the Sex Pistols.
Violent and vulgar, but also a searing anti-abortion anthem by the quintessential punk band: "It's not an animal/It's an abortion."

9. "Don't Tread on Me," by Metallica.
A head-banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: "So be it/Threaten no more/To secure peace is to prepare for war".

10. "20th Century Man", by the Kinks.
"You keep all your smart modern writers/Give me William Shakespeare/You keep all your smart modern painters/I'll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci and Gainsborough... I was born in a welfare state/Got no privacy/And people dressed in gray/Got no privacy got no liberty/'Cause the 20th century people/Took it all away from me".

11. " The Trees" by Rush.
Before there was Tush Limbaugh, there was Rush, a Canadian band whose lyrics are often libertarian. What happens in a forest when equal rights become equal outcomes" "The trees are all kept equal/By hatchet, axe and saw".

12. "Neighborhood Bully", by Bon Dylan.
A pro-Israel song released in 1983, two years after the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor, this ironic number could be a them seong for the Bush Doctrine; "He destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad/The bombs were meant for Him/ He was supposed to feel bad/He's the neighborhood bully."

13. "My City Was Gone", by the Pretenders.
Virtually every conservative knows the bass line, which supplies the theme music for Limbaugh's radio show. But the lyrics also display a Jane Jacobs sensibiliity against central planning and a conservative's dissatisfaction with rapid change; "I went back to Ohio/But my pretty countryside/Had been paved down the middle/By a government that had no pride."

14. "Right Here, Right Now," ny Jesus Jones.
The words are vague, but they're also about the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War; "I was alvie and I waited for this ... Watching the world wake up from history."

15. "I fought the Law", by the Crickets.
The original law-and-order classic, made famous in 1965 by the Bobby Fuller Four and covered by just about everyone since then.

16. "Get Over It", by the Eagles.
Against the culture of givevance; "The big, bad world doesn't owe you a thing". There's also this nice line" "I'd like to find your inner child and kick its little ass."

17. "Stay Together for the Kids", by Blink 182.
A euglogy for family values by an all-rock band whose members were raised in a generation without enough of them: "So here's your holiday/Hope you enjoy it his time/You gave it all away ....It's not right".

18. "Cult of Personality", by Living Colour.
A hard rocking critique of state power, whacking Mussolini, Stalin and even JFK:" I exploit you, still you love love me/I tell you one and one makes three/I'm the cult of personality".

19. " Kicks," by Paul Revere and the Raiders.
An anti-utopian: "Well, you think you're gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise/But it ain't happened yet, so girl you better think twice."

20. "Rock the Casbah", by the Clash.
After 9/11, American radio stations were urged not to play this 1982 song, one of the biggest hits by a seminal punk band, because it was seen as too provocative. Meanwhile, British Forces Broadcasting Service (the radio station for British troops serving in Iraq) has said that this is one of its most requested tunes.

21. "Heroes", by David Bowie.
A Cold War love song about a man and a woman divided by the Berlin Wall. No moral equivalence here: "I can remember/Standing/By the wall/And the guns/Shot above our heads/And we kissed/As though nothing could fall/And no shame/Was on the other side/Oh we can beat them/ For ever and ever."

22. Red Barchetta," by Rush.
In a time of "the Motor Law', presumably legislated by green extremists, the signer describes family reunion and the thrill of driving fast car -- an act that is his "weekly crime."

23. "Brick", by Ben Folds Five.
Written from the perspective of a man who takes his young girlfriend to an abortion clinic, this song describes the emotional scars of "re-productive freedom": "Now she's feeling more alone/Than she ever has before .. As weeks went by/It showed that she was not fine."

24. "Der Kommissar", by After the Fire.
On the misery of East German life: "Don't turn around, uh-oh/Der Kommissar's in town/And you're so weak/And your frustration/Will not let you speak". Also a hit song for Falco, who wrote it.

25. "The Battle of Evermore," by Led Zeppelin.
For a song released in 1971, it's hard to miss the Cold War metaphor: "The tyrants' face is read,"

26. "Capitalism", by Oingo Boingo.
"There's nothing wrong with Capitalism/There's nothing wrong with free enterprise... You're just a middle class, socialist brat/From a suburban family and you never really had to work."

27. "Obvious Song", by Joe Jackson.
For property rights and economic developement, and against liberal hypocrisy; "There was a man in the jungle/Trying to make ends meet/Found himself one day with an axe in his hand/When a voice said 'Buddy can you sapre that tree/We gotta save the world--- starting with your land'/It was a rock 'n roll millionaire from the USA/Doing three to the gallon in a big white car".

28. Janie's Got a Gun", by Aerosmith.
How the right to bear arms can protect women drom sexual predators; "What did her daddy do?/It's Janie's last I.O.U./She had to take him down easy/And out a bullet in his brain/She said 'cause nobody believes me/The man was such a sleaze/He ain't never gonna be the same".

29. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", by Iron Maiden.
A heavy metal classic inspired by a literary classic. How many other rock songs quote directly from Samuel Taylor Coolidge?

30. "You Can't Be Too Strong", by Graham Parker.
Although it's not explicitly pro-life, this tune describes the horror of abortion with bracing honesty" "Did they tear it out with talons of steel, and gave you a shot sot hat you would'nt feel?"

31. "Small Town", by John Mellecamp.
A Burkean rocker; "No, I cannot forget where it is that I come from/I cannot forget the people who love me."

32. "Keep Your Hands To Yourself", by the Gerogia Sattelites.
An outstanding vocal performance, with lyrics that affirm old-time sexual mores: "She said no huggy, no kissy until I get a wedding vow."

33. "You Can't Always Get What You Want", by the Rolling Stones.
You can go "down to the demonstration" and vent your frustration, but you mut understand that there's no such thing as a perfect society -- there are merely decent and free ones.

34. "Godzilla", by Blue Oyster Cult.
A 1977 classic about a big green monster -- and more; "History shows again and again/How nature points up the folly of men."

35. "Who'll Stop the Rain," by Credence Clearwater Revival.
Written as an anti-Vietnam War song, this tune nevertheless is pessimistic about activism and takes a dim view of both Communism and liberalism; "Five year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains."

36. "Government Cheese", by the Rainmakers.
A protest song against the welfare state by a Kansas City band that deserved more success that it got. The first line: " Give a man a free house and he'll bust out of windows".

37. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", by the Band.
Despite its sins, the American South always had been about more than racism -- this song captures its pride and tradition.

38. "I Can't Drive 55", by Sammy Hagar.
A rocker's objection to the nanny state.

39. "Property Line", by the Marshall Tucker Band.
The sedret to happiness, accroding to these southern rock heavyweights, is life, liberty and property: "Well my idea if a good time/Is walkin my property line/And knowin' the mud on my boots is mine".

40. "Wake Up Little Suzie", by the Everly Brothers.
A smash hit in 1957, back when high school social pressures were rather different from what they have become: "We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot."

41. "The Icicle Melts", by the Cranberries.
A pro-life tune sung by Irish warbler Dolores O'Riordan: " I don't know what's happening to people today/When a child, he was taken away... 'Cause nine months is too long."

42. "Everybody's a Victim", by the Proclaimers.
This Scottish band recorded a catchy song about the problem of suspedning moral judgement: "it doesn't matter what I do/You have to say it's all right... Everybody's a victim/We're becoming like USA."

43. "Wonderful", by Everclear.
A child's take on divorce: "I don't wanna hear you say/That I will uderstand someday/No, no, no, no/I don't wanna hear you say/You both have gwoan in a different way/No.no,no,no/I don't wanna meet your friends/And I just want my life to be the same/ Just like it used to be."

44. "Two Sister's", by the Kinks.
Why the "drudgery of being wed" is more rewarding than bohemian life.

45. "Taxman, Mr. Thief", by Cheap Trick.
An anti-tax protest song: "You work hard, you went hungry/Now the taxman is out to get you...He hates you, he loves money."

46. "Wind of Change", by the Scorpions.
A German had rock group's optimistic power ballad about the end of Cold War and national reunification: "The world is closing in/Did you ever thin/That we could be so close, like Brothers/The future's in the air/I can feel it everywhere/Blowwing with the wind of change."

47. "One", by the Creed.
Against racial preferences: "Scoiety blind by color/Why hold down one to raise both sides/Seeds of hare blossom further."

48. "Why Don't You Get A Job", by the Offspring.
The lyrics are aren't exactly Shalespearean, but they're refreshingly blunt and they capture a motive force behind welfare reforms.

49. "Abortion", by Kid Rock.
Aplaintive song sung by a man who confronts his unborn child's abortion: "I know your brothers and your sister and your mother too/Man I wish you could see them too."

50. "Stand By Your Man", by Tammy Wynette.
Hillary trashed it --- isnt' that enough? If Wynette's original is too country, then check out the cover version by Motorhead.

(Source: CHICSUNTIMES by 2006 National Review,Inc., 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016)
posted by infraternam meam @ 1:55 PM  
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