The Rich Girls Are Weeping

08 September 2006

If there's one thing that bothers me, it's a crappy protest song. I'm not even a big fan of music in a purely politcal context -- though one can't discount the importance of say, gospel to the Civil Rights Movement, etc. Anyway, given the current state of the nation, it seems kind of odd that there's no truly political music infiltrating the mainstream. Then again, there's no draft affecting the main consumers of popular music, and both the war and the recording industry are two totally different creatures ca. 2006 than they were ca. 1966. At best, the most truly politically-tinged music around is the hiphop coming out of the dirty south in the post-Katrina diaspora.

So, remember that hideous thing that Conor Oberst tried to get us with a few years back, what was that even called? "The President Thinks Aloud" or something? Utterly awful.

But there was something about The Decemberists' "Sixteen Military Wives" last year -- it was the only truly coherent and memorable track on Picaresque, if for nothing else but its clever metaphors and delicate skewering of ... well, everyone who thinks they have something valid to say about politics. It was vaguely satisfying to have a pseudo-protest song that wasn't preachy and kind of snarky and had that gosh-darn twee Wes Anderson-esque video. Unfortunately, it was completely without any closure, so that was problematic. But it seemed to get some people thinking, maybe?

More people than say, Green Day's American Idiot did. For a time, it seemed like that album was perfectly poised to cause some kind of response among the youth of America, but all those kids are listening to AFI now, Saint Jimmy forgotten. Oh well.

So, where does that leave us? Hopefully, in the loving embrace of one Will Robinson Sheff, frontman of Okkervil River. I was told by an associate of his that Will's new songs were so very good that they were surely poised to make him famous. From what I've heard, I think I agree. The funny thing is, this song didn't do anything for me when I heard it a few weeks ago at the Carousel. It kind of sank like a stone, but maybe it was because it was so bloody hot in there. Taken from the Australian-only tour EP (Okkervil's currently touring Australia and New Zealand as we speak -- be careful boys!), Overboard and Down, "The President's Dead," isn't a scary screed or an empty pipe dream, but a window into a life in past tense: yours, mine, Mr. Sheff's. And suddenly it all comes clear: Five years after the fact, we're far too insular for protest songs now.

Okkervil River -- The President's Dead
Okkervil River -- O, Dana (Big Star cover)
Bonus: Okkervil River -- It Ends With a Fall

Don't worry, the tracks off this tour-only EP will be available in the US on a set of different releases later this year, according to the Okkervil River message board.


Blogger Pinkie von Bloom said...

Anyway, given the current state of the nation, it seems kind of odd that there's no truly political music infiltrating the mainstream.

Totes...since I don't exactly see teenagers rocking out to that protest number from Madigan Shive. Remember that show? That was the same night as the immigration protest at City Hall.

Friday, September 08, 2006 6:27:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Yes, that was such a odd situation -- it was clear that Ms. Shive was truly invested in that protest -- and it seemed to mostly confuse the rest of the crowd. Which is weird, because that gathering took place just a few blocks from The Knit.

Friday, September 08, 2006 6:31:00 PM  
Blogger J Frank Parnell said...

But the Afghan Whigs have reunited.

Friday, September 08, 2006 11:10:00 PM  
Blogger kathryn said...

What we're also missing is a new Ted Leo album.

Friday, September 08, 2006 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger chacal la chaise said...

seems that, gawd forbid, it will take the draft or college students shot dead in their tracks (or anyone else for that matter that might be silently protesting) to sadly bring out someone's inner attempt at being the next whitfield/strong (war sung by irwin star, of course) or dylan/csny/paxton, et al.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 3:23:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

That is a damn damn damn fine song. Wow. That needs out soon.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 4:20:00 AM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

(Okkervil's currently touring Australia and New Zealand as we speak -- be careful boys!)

Hey it's not like we have stingrays coming out of out arses.

They were fucking fantastic, BTW

Sunday, September 10, 2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

Anyway you could upload the rest of the Okkervil River EP? When it comes out in the US, it's gonna be vinyl only, from what I've heard, and I sadly don't have a record player. Just thought I'd ask!

Monday, September 11, 2006 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Oh dear, I couldn't possibly do that. Even I have my limits!

Keep your eyes peeled, I'm sure some other nice blogger will post the other tracks!

Monday, September 11, 2006 7:06:00 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

Alright. It was worth a shot. Thank you so much for these tracks though!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous johngross said...

check out some more okkervil river "secret austin show" madhaps over at

thank you SO much for posting these tracks....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 2:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there cannot be enough good things said about Okkervil River

Saturday, September 30, 2006 2:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as well as there cannot be enough good things said about Bonfire Madigan Shive. She has a new cd coming out in 07!

Friday, November 24, 2006 10:11:00 PM  

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