Sunday, August 05, 2007

Questions for fans of The Nightwatchman on the message of the music.

This is my opinion.

Please remember that like assholes everyone has one so you don't have to take mine personally it's just mine and doesn't have to be yours.

To start with I am not a fan of Rage Against the Machine. I liked some of Tom's guitar parts but I always felt like the music they wrote never made the transition from riffs to songs. Like a meal with a lot of good sauce but little of the stuff the sauce is suppose to come with.

Audioslave was okay by me because I was an early/middle  Soundgarden fan and Audioslave was closer to that energy then later Soundgarden was in my opinion. I wasn't moved to buy the music but I didn't turn it off if I heard it on the radio or TV so I can say I grew to appreciate him as a guitar player more.

His Nightwatchman stuff doesn't appeal to me. I appreciate the effort to write striped down acoustic blues protest music in the age of electronics and Pro Tools but I can also say it falls well short of moving me like Johnny Cash or older blues guys like Muddy Waters or even the Robert Johnson recordings.

If I'm right, he's going for an extreme message to make a point much like Chuck D of Public Enemy does in songs like By The Time I Get To Arizona or Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos.

The message feels less then authentic to me for a few reasons.

-He's writing the whole song in the first person as a character speaking to the listener. (to make them more intimate maybe)
-He's performing them in the first person as if he is the man himself who has written the songs. For comparison Chuck D will use first person and tell other parts of the story as a witness or uninvolved reporter. (For my money this helps make the message more firm and can pull the listener in more.)
-He's performing the songs in a "style" of a protest singer instead of letting each song be itself.(Listen to Tom Waits to see that you don't need to use just one character and style to use characters.)
-We the listener know that this is really a guy who's played in a really big rock band more than once so it's hard to believe he is a murderous revolutionary seeking out those who committed the wrongs for the "little guy" when we know he's been to Harvard. For me the affect is similar to the Chris Gaines thing that Garth Brooks did a few years ago in that an attempt to make something seem authentic actually makes it loose some of it's credibility since it's core message is dishonest to the circumstance it's being told in. Even if the song is good the gimmick might turn off the listener from giving it a listen.

My questions for the fans of his music:

1-He's a socialist (or maybe communist) right?

2-His Nightwatchman persona is focused on expressing his far left social and political ideas right?

3-As I understand it he wants to add a voice of rebellion and protest for the current age is this correct?

4-If his politics and revolution message are the point of the Nightwatchman, why doesn't he have any songs that are downloadable for free here on Fuzz or elsewhere? And why doesn't this make you feel, as I do, that the message is not somehow cheated? (Please explain this as fully as you can.)

5-If it's because he released the album under contract with a label that won't allow it then why hasn't he posted any recordings of the open mic shows he's played then? Or more to the point if the message of social revolution is his the motive why didn't he release them for free under a creative commons license?

My reason for asking these question has to do with the fact that I am a libertarian and disagree with most of his message but I'm okay with him saying whatever he wants, whenever he wants, to whomever whats to hear it but the central theme of his Nightwatchman work seems to be focused on the messages of the communist revolutionaries throughout mans history and I can't help but wonder it's truly authentic on his part. And if it is then I will be slightly worried since I think those revolutions might have been inspired by the ideas of equality but there ultimate results were misery, pain and death without regard to who fell victim to the fight.

To me his character of The Nightwatchman is a villain. Not a hero to himself or anyone he claims to be fighting for since how can being unjust fix any injustice?

Prince John was a tyrant.

Robinhood was a thief.

One does not justify the other regardless of which side you are on.

Two wrongs are just that, wrong.

Robinhood didn't stand up to the Sheriff of Nottingham and stop him until much later. Instead he provided the justification for more misery to the people he was trying to help. Robinhood re-enforced the system of oppression and became a key part of it. So be sure to ask yourself was good Robinhoods goal? Was justice? Or did he fight a wrong by encouraging more wrongs?

The character of The Nightwatchman idolizes murderers and seeks to commit the same.

He wants the chaos of a revolution. (like Iraq maybe)

Does that sound like a hero to you?

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