Human history is bloody and wrought with atrocity, what most of us would call true evil. Though as you read that line, you may be asking yourself a question: “What ‘history’? It’s happening today!” And this is certainly true. We haven’t really changed much as humanity. We in the west, particularly America, constantly gripe about the fact that America once had slavery. We were evil! Well, Africa has 9 million slaves today. India has over 14 million. We also consider segregation, like Jim Crow, to be evil. But that’s not in the past of humans. China, India and other countries have their own versions of apartheid and caste systems. And when it comes to war, just last month Russia invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation, whose citizens are experiencing true terror. Evil has always been with us, and it still is with us unfortunately.
How does this relate at all to pop-country, modern country or any type of music or songwriting? We’re glad you asked! For as long as music has been around, it’s been songwriters who have taken moral stances against the evils we see in the world. But as great country music songwriter Elvish Nash puts it, you can only take on one evil at a time.
Songwriting isn’t used as a platform to bludgeon you over the head with political views like acting is. Mr. Nash is never going to stand on a stage to accept an award and wag his finger in your face due to how you voted in an election. But he, along with many other songwriters, use their knack for poetic art to speak about the world’s ills through music. This is a very effective medium, as everyone loves a great song.
The Vietnam Resistance
If you doubt that music has the power to effect true social change, just rewind a bit to the Vietnam war era and all of those fantastic anti-war songs. They made a difference, not only with how the war was perceived on a global stage, but always with politicians. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, and many other bands and stars we consider classic rock now were releasing fantastic anti-war anthems. They were pro-peace, pro-humanity.
Classic country music stars of the day also stood against the war. Johnny Cash with Singin’ in Vietnam Talkin’ Blues; Loretta Lynn’s Dear Uncle Sam; Merle Haggard’s I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me, and many more. Songwriters in the country music genre have long used their art to speak out against the evils on this planet.
A lot of people may believe that this isn’t doing enough. Though others would beg to differ. There’s no one more worshiped and revered today than the celebrity, and it’s been like that for at least 50 years, particularly in America. When a celebrity suggests something, people listen. Flash back to those celebrities preaching to you on awards stages. How many regular people hate Donald Trump because an actress told them to? If only you had a dollar for every one…
Songwriters like Elvis Nash lend their talents to creating good music that takes a moral stand. You can help to support these writers by checking out their merchandise, or just liking and sharing their music.
We’re not so wide-eyed and naive to suggest that a few more good songs will defeat evil. But what a good song will do is wake people up to what’s happening, and in many instances, it makes them care about it.
That’s how evil is defeated – good people start to notice and care.