The Sound Strike

This could be the best thing to happen to Kanye West since glow in the dark glasses.

Ever since Natalie Maines went on record regarding George Bush, musical acts have been afraid to take a stand.  And this is funny, since the willingness to stand up for what they believed in was the key to artists’ success in the sixties, the era when music went from sideshow to main event.  The biggest act in the business, the Beatles, flirted with drug use, challenged listeners and John Lennon even went on record to say the band was bigger than Jesus.

Which they were.

And they were also damn good.  Which is why they got so much attention and people followed them.

But people have stopped following musical acts.  Heroes are found in other endeavors, sports, television, movies…  Musical acts aren’t leaders, they’re followers.  You think you’re helping your career, but you’re just one more brick in the wall between people and music, if you’ve got no edges, no one can relate to you.

And now we’ve got Zach de la Rocha imploring musicians to boycott Arizona.  You should get on this bandwagon quick, take a stand, before everyone else does and signing up looks safe and is ultimately meaningless.

This is music’s power.  There are music fans throughout Arizona.  Zach and his pack are mobilizing them, drawing attention to the abhorrent, and probably unconstitutional, Arizona law.  Not worrying that some of their fans may support it.  If you can’t challenge your fans, if you’re not willing to expand their brains, stimulate thought, then you’re not a artist, but an entertainer. And entertainers are a dime a dozen, constantly angling for new gigs, their careers always teetering.

You can get a bunch of musicians to stand up for Haiti, Nashville flood relief, even cancer.  But what if there are two sides to an issue?  Are you willing to stand up for your beliefs?

I’m not saying to join The Sound Strike if you’re for the law.  Then again, you might want to reconsider your position, because your viewpoint might be outed to your detriment.  But if this is where your heart lies, if you believe injustice is imminent, then I implore you to sign up.  The boycott of all those gigs in Sun City, the cage-rattling by musicians helped bring down apartheid in South Africa.  It brought awareness, of an issue many were unfamiliar with previously, just like many outside of Arizona don’t realize how heinous this law is.

No color is better than another.  We’re all immigrants.  It’s time to leave your prejudices at the door.  Zach de la Rocha has a Mexican-American father.  Are you gonna hate him, think of him as a second-class citizen because of his heritage?  It’s the oldsters who are set in their ways, youngsters are much more open, and they can rally around youth leaders, who are traditionally musicians.

Then again, who’s gonna follow Ke$sha?  Or Miley Cyrus?  What do they stand for, partying in the U.S.A?  Well, we all want the freedom to party, each and every one of us.  And Zach’s pack is willing to take a stand, to enforce this right.

Mr. de la Rocha has a long history of political activism.  But when I think of taking a stand, I don’t think of Joe Satriani, but he put his name on the line.  As did Massive Attack.  And the aforementioned Kanye West.  This is a good start.  But we need you.  Young and old.  Everyone from Justin Bieber to Don Henley.  Anybody who has ever worked in Arizona.  If you think everyone who came to see you is legal…  If you think you’re not a beneficiary of immigrant labor…  If you don’t think that this crack in the edifice of the right to human freedom can ultimately impact your ability to self-express as an artist, you’re sorely mistaken.

Yes, music is all about freedom.  Didn’t Steppenwolf implore us to get our motors runnin’, to get out on the highway?

I’m not saying illegal immigration is not an important issue, that it does not need to be addressed, but this Arizona law is the wrong damn way.  Fill up my inbox.  Berate me.  But I reach many more people than you do.  And I reach a tiny fraction of the souls Zach’s and his pack do.  That’s the power of music.  Use it not only to your own benefit, but everybody’s.

One Response to The Sound Strike


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  1. Pingback by do something: The Sound Strike « conrazón | 2010/07/07 at 17:51:04

    […] Read Bob Lefsetz take on The Sound Strike: […]

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  1. Pingback by do something: The Sound Strike « conrazón | 2010/07/07 at 17:51:04

    […] Read Bob Lefsetz take on The Sound Strike: […]

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