Sep 19, 2013

One of my least favorite types of music is political folk. It’s almost always didactic, dry, lacking in metaphor, nuance, and poetry. Political folkie’s lyrics are often hamfisted, maudlin news reports devoid of the personal and too pretentious to get to the simplicity of struggle and how it relates to everyday life. They’re doggedly unaware that all music is political because all of it deals with how an artist relates to their environment and world. Sure, you could say that about any art form, but music is something people gravitate towards together and politics is simply a glorified way of saying “relations among people.” That’s why The Eagles Hotel California is one of the most political albums ever made, simply because it lauded a coked-out, vacuum lifestyle of apathy and excess, making a perfect soundtrack for the Reagan era. Or take any album by Creedence Clearwater Revival—absolutely political—and I’m not just talking “Fortunate Son,” but every embittered song that echoed Fogerty’s bold-hearted, yet fading, belief in humanity’s possibility for unity. Consider Jay-Z’s entire adult career, an unapologetic, Machiavellian ascension that he boasts of in his autobiographical songs about a manipulative psychopath who went from crack dealer to CEO billionaire and still pimps out the people, exploiting their self-hate and envy. If that’s not political, then nothing is. I’m projecting, though. Part of the reason I hate political folk so much is because it reminds me of my activist days when I bought into trite, cornball singers like David Rovics, desperately wanting to believe in the power of, “a kiss behind the barricade... when the world has gone crazy, and it’s all becoming clear, when they’re gunning down our comrades and it seems the end is near.” Fortunately (for my ego, if nothing more), my relationship with what I like to call “activist music” was short-lived and marginal, but political music like The Gits, Dead Moon, Strawman, Patti Smith, and Leonard Cohen was and still gets regular spins. Ya get me? Political folk has long been relegated to the dead zone with other forms of political music that make me feel alienated, irrelevant, or shitty about my everyday life—for instance, Kid Rock, Billy Joel, Grateful Dead, Kanye West, and countless other artists I just don’t relate to. Don’t get me wrong, political folk isn’t nearly as bad as the artists I just (randomly) mentioned, but equally as inapplicable. So, saying that is to say this; Pullman Porter is, no doubt, a political folksinger. He’s definitely on the side of good and not the side of bad. His songs are full of the kind of rhetoric that makes me roll my eyes. And though I agree with his politics, he’s far too preachy for me and probably anyone who’s been around the block a few times, but he’s got heart and there’s nothing here that makes me embarrassed for him. I see some potential here. Will Pullman Porter develop as a songwriter? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

 –Craven Rock (pullmanporter.bandcamp.com)