Top 50 "Conservative" Rock Songs

The National Review, a conservative magazine, published a list of the “Top 50 Conservative Rock Songs” earlier this spring.  You can get the list via this post at the Lincoln Journal Star’s Ground Zero blog.

“The magazine says it based its selections on ‘a broad criteria: the songs had to be well-liked and express classically conservative ideas such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values.’

The Review used a completely surface-level reading of these tunes in order to co-opt them for their conservative agenda.  It reminds me of Ronald Reagan using Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” as a campaign anthem; Reagan liked the chorus, never mind that the verses were all about the struggles of working-class Americans.

Their # 1, The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” isn’t about government at all.  Pete Townshend talks at length on his VH1 Storytellers episode about how this song is about “losing yourself – that thing we used to to a lot of in the ’60’s” through “a football game, a great party, or making love to somebody” and not letting uptight squares like the National Review talk you out of having those experiences.

The Review obviously misses the irony of the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” at # 5.  The same on “Wonderful” by Everclear at # 43.  Conservatives tend not to understand subtleties like “irony,” preferring to force the world into black-or-white.  That worldview doesn’t jive so much with rock music, or art in general.

This list is just example # 4, 592, 371 of conservatives staking claim on typically progressive pop culture for their own agenda.  It’s transparent, and it doesn’t work; the National Review and its readers make lists while classic liberals/Enlightenment-types/progressives/Greens/etc. make ROCK MUSIC.  I’ll take that difference and see it play in the media any day.


In FuriousSound studio news, I’m mastering Robot, Creep Closer!‘s debut album for Lone Prairie Records this weekend.  I’ve also demoed nine songs for Sally Ride’s upcoming It’s A Trap, and am working on drums.  In a way, this relates to the main post, because the new SR will include songs about the NSA domestic-spying program, net neutrality, David S. Addington, and Ohio 2004.  -h

6 thoughts on “Top 50 "Conservative" Rock Songs”

  1. Putting aside all the songs that shouldn’t be on the list, where is Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky?” If ever I were to make a list of rock songs for conservatives, I’d place that one fairly near the top…

  2. Wait- I know that “Spirit in the Sky” is a religious/spiritual song, but is it also conservative? If you defined religion as a form of being conservative, I guess it would be, but I was just curious if there were any other conservative lyrics in the song. I’m gonna go look up the lyrics right now, to seeee!

    It reminds me of this Spoon song called “Johnathan Fisk” about some dude Brit Daniel didn’t like in high school, and it goes:

    “To him, religion don’t mean a thing; it’s just another way to be right-wing”

  3. I don’t think the lyrics are expressley conservative, but rather it embodies an attitude sometimes displayed, sometimes hijacked by conservatives. That is to say, if you took a poll of highly conservative folks, I’m sure you would find a vast majority rate religion/spirituality as very high on their moral priorities. That’s not to say liberal people don’t feel that way, but it just seems that conservatives are much better at wearing it on their sleeves. So, a song talking about having a friend n Jesus and going ot heaven would seem to me to be a song a conservative might look at and say, “Hey, this is pretty cool.”

    Assuming they listened to all of the lyrics. Which is not something that may have happened, given other entries on this list.

  4. Haha yeah, I see what you mean. “Hijacked” is a good word to describe it. It’s a good way to describe what happened with the Reagan campaign/Springsteen song. It sounds like here, they’ve hijacked a bunch of really awesome songs for a very superficially put together list.

    Good times, good times.

    Jay kay, but yeah, I’m on the bus.

  5. “I feel like the way moral issues have be co-opted by a political party for nothing else but to to develop a constituency whose votes they can depend on is really dangerous. I just want to get in that I feel like it is nearly impossible to walk a party line – especially in a two-party system – and follow Jesus.”

    Derek Webb (howie… remember him” said that in an article i read a few months ago and kept it. Being a conservative myself, i’m saddened by the ways a lot of “our” kind take things completely out of context to support a cause. This is slightly off the main subject, but i was looking through a christian bookstore recently and found quite a few books, in a christian store (just so you remember) that talked about how it’s good to be conservative and republican. They even had a book about liberals talking about how their ideas are not correct.

    Now, I might, hypothetically, agree with some of the things about liberal political ideas, but does that mean that a christian store should be telling people what political idealogies they should be affiliated with? What’s this going to make liberal christians think? Is this going to lead people to start believing that rebublicans are they christian party and that you need to be conservative to be a believer or follower of Christ?

    I HATE the way that conservaties co-opt these ideas, but remain one in order to make change, just like howie talked about how change needs to be made with Ohio 2004.

    any more ideas…. or this is so off subject it’s not even funny… :)


  6. For Site Visitors Who Are Uninterested in Religious/Political Discussion; Please ignore my comments. You are welcome here, and welcome to ignore our conversation, and welcome to have different positions, and welcome to converse with us respectfully. This is a music website, but our music is informed by these other things, so I feel that the conversation is appropriate for MFR.

    Jake – you are one of the most important people in America right now. A reasonable, loving, conversation-having conservative. Bless you.

    You and others like you have the most power right now – power to reclaim the Republican party from the right-wing/neocon/New Elite/corporate-owned loons who are in control. I truly believe they are a minority who have used fear and raw will-to-power to gain control of OUR democracy. Remember the great teaching of Spiderman; with great power comes great responsibility.

    There is less that we self-identified liberals can do (the most important thing we CAN do is register Republican and help you support moderate Republican candidates in primary elections).

    So there’s the politics from my point of view. As far as following Jesus… when I read the NT, I find a consistent message to expand my circles of love and inclusion, specifically to those people I might not want as part of my family. People outside of my “tribe.” The Phoenix Affirmations are a pretty good approximation of my understanding –

    One thing that’s been bouncing around my head lately is the story that includes Jesus’ words “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” When confronted with a person who had clearly violated biblical law, Jesus refused to use Scripture to condemn her (the law said she should be executed by stoning).

    Repeat; Jesus himself rejected Biblical Moral Teaching when confronted with an adulterer. Jesus defied biblical law, and criticized those who used it as a weapon against others.

    Does this story have any relevance for us? For our national conversation about homosexuality in particular? God, I hope so.

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