Today is election day, and, whatever side of the coin you fall on, please go out and vote. That said, while I don’t use this blog to push a political agenda, a little Googling of my name or searching on my personal Twitter feed could probably unearth which party and issues I support – passionately. I do have an undying interest in the intersection of music and politics/social activism, and during the 2008 election I made this a focus of my reporting, at the time for Huffington Post – I spoke to Conor Oberst, Ted Leo, Emily Saliers (of the Indigo Girls) and Yoko Ono, among others, about elections, conventions and imagining peace. I’ve also always been fascinated by the protest song, from Buffalo Springfield to Marvin Gaye to Mr. Oberst in more modern days, and there are few moments in music more powerful to me than the matter-of-fact delivery in “For What It’s Worth,” and those lyrics: “There’s something happening here/What it is ain’t exactly clear/There’s a man with a gun over there/Telling me I got to beware.” I heard Stephen Stills sing this live at the Ryman this summer and it gave me chills.
This interest is not only relegated to the power of music to push an agenda, candidate or cause – which it can do in powerful ways – but also to unite people on both sides of an issue. I’m sure there are readers of this blog whose political opinions are vastly different from mine, but we may both end up elbowing our way to the front row of the same show at Mercy Lounge, mouthing the lyrics to the same song. So we’re all going to need to raise a glass tonight, either to drink away jitters, celebrate victory or wash away the agony of defeat with a snifter of bourbon. I’ll be at the 5 Spot for $2 Tuesdays’ Election Night Extravaganza, making sure to catch late-set act Heaven’s Jail Band, in town from Brooklyn, NY and who just played the first-annual Lockeland Lunchbreak.
Some other options: check out The Postelles at Rocketown or King Tuff at The Stone Fox. Or stay at home, keep CNN on mute and listen to your favorite records. Just pay attention, and have a point of view. Complacency is worse than any radical opinion.