True Rebel Music of 2011 - Part One

Last year I presented a Side A and Side B of the best truerebel music of 2010 (based on criteria you can check out here). This year I will split the True Rebel Songs of 2011 into three parts as it was just too much for people to take in with a simple Side A and Side B. There will be 21 songs on the list so they will nicely fit into three 7 song blogs. They are not in order 1-21, but meant to be a good playlist for an 80 minute CD.

There are great songs that don't make the truerebel cut just because the content doesn't fit the ongoing theme of the truerebel blog. While Adele's 21 and The Black Keys El Camino are two of my favourite albums of the year, Rolling in the Deep and Lonely Boy don't make the cut because most of these artists’ lyrics tend to be about romantic love and heartache; great music, but not truerebel worthy.

I also eliminated songs where the same album was represented last year. The Arcade Fire's The Suburbs definitely could have been represented by the title track, Modern Man or We Used to Wait as each song fits the album's theme of youth whose dreams and character are in jeopardy as they slowly conform to the decay of dreams and hopes in the suburbs. However, this album was represented in last years best of as was the great Bad Religion album, The Dissent of Man, which meant that I had to cut The Resist Stance (what a title!).

Okay, let's get to it.

1. RISE AGAINST - DISPARITY BY DESIGN

 

A band that just oozes true-rebel-ness. I could easily have chosen September's Children, which deals with bullying, particularly against the gay and lesbian youth in our high schools.

Instead I went with this song from the great album, Endgame, which discusses a very timely issue, the gap between the rich and poor.

The lyrics cut deep as they claim that the rich like to claim that they earned what they have and, in turn, the poor are to blame for their poverty. But as the title of the song suggests, this is not the case.

"All the way at the bottom of these barrels we cry out.
So ashamed of our tears that we blame only ourselves.
That's when they win! They keep us convinced to lift up our chins.
These playing fields are level; we all have a chance.
With that they dismiss, the fast lanes they rode
In which access depends on who you know, or where you came from.
Whose daughter are you?
Whose fortunate son?"

Such great lyrics! The lie is that everyone had a equal chance to succeed in our community's. It keeps the poor blaming themselves. But usually the rich have the inside track from the start (the fast lanes) and have access based on who they know that most simply do not have.

"Tell themselves that they've earned this by working hard or playing by the rules.
But this is only part true; a dangerous trick played on me and you."

I think most people still think that if someone is wealthy, they earned it. As a result, we live under the collective delusion that is okay for a person or a family to own more wealth or resources than millions of others combined. If they earned it then they deserve it. They must have worked harder, made more sacrifices. All lies, a trick played on me and you.

"Perhaps the man in the gutter, is not so different from you"

"Come in out of the cold, forget all that you know
Because there's always been room by the fire for you."

The song brilliantly ends with the inclusivity of the poor who are "not so different from you" and urges that there is room by the fire for all of us. If you follow the logic of the song, room by the fire for all means the sharing of our resources, or equal opportunity for all to be a respected member of our society.

Good stuff from Rise Against, as usual.

2, DROPKICK MURPHY'S - BROKEN HYMNS

Dropkick Murphy's take the term "Battle Hymns" and entitle their song, "Broken Hymns". Far from glorifying the military, this song takes account of the price of human lives lost in war. In particular this song focuses on an Irish regiment that fought in the Civil War. There was no celebration as the last car of the train pulled into the station filled with the coffins of the dead.

It is a poor consolation for a wife to hear that their husband, "fought bravely". War is a ghastly device of a twisted humanity and where there is war it ought to be accompanied by far more grieving than celebration. That grief is tangible throughout this great tune by one of the best punk bands of the last few decades.

3. FLORENCE & THE MACHINE - YOU'VE GOT THE LOVE

While I could have included a song from Florence's current album, Ceremonials, Between Two Lungs was released in November of 2010 and I so enjoyed it right through the first half of 2011.

This takes more of a spiritual approach to what helps to sustain someone through life. I would never downplay the role of faith in the journey of so many people. It will be an absolute essential for so many True Rebels who are looking for strength to keep on the path of love and justice. Like Florence, there might be times when it feels like it's all you've got;

"When food is gone you are my daily meal
When friends are gone I know my saviour's love is real."

(Another artist who expresses faith through music is Josh Garrels and I could have included his Resistance in this list. "How do good men become part of the regime? They don't believe in resistance" - If you are going to resist oppression you will need strength to "Hold fast, like an anchor in the storm." Josh also declares "We will not be moved!" "True love endures everything, to be free!)

4. COLDPLAY - EVERY TEARDROP IS A WATERFALL

Okay, I know people love to hate Coldplay, but I just don't get it. Not only is this group incredibly talented, not only have they produced one of the albums of the year yet again, but their lyrics are incredibly powerful poetry. I easily could have included other songs on Mylo Xyloto like Charlie Brown or Paradise (my kids’ favourite song of the year).

This particular song is best summed up by the line, "So you can hurt, hurt me bad
But still I'll raise the flag." It is about a young generation that, through music and dance and love is able to take the pain the suffering and sorrow they see around them and not be crushed by it. Instead, "From underneath the rubble sing a rebel song". It is about creating change. Unlike The Arcade Fire where the youth seems to be engaged in a losing battle, Coldplay suggests that this is a fight we can win. That another generation doesn't have to drop. Instead, the pain (teardrop) that we experience and witness now can fuel a powerful movement (the waterfall) towards something better!

5. THE DECEMBERISTS - THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT

I think that in this particular case, the video adds well to the message of the song.

No matter what the circumstances, we will fight for freedom. We will take a stand so that "if we die, we will die with our arms unbound."

"Come the avarice" - which means extreme greed for wealth.

"Come attrition" - which means the depletion of the workforce; more people unemployed.

These are circumstances that speak to our current situation; extreme greed by some which leads to the poverty of others.

The video is brilliant. Youth playing out the reality of those who have control and those who don't. It portrays the cruel oppression and domination of those who control resources through fear and violence. Finally the "have-nots" take a stand. While those with control run at them armed with pitchforks and weapons, the poor are armed with only one thing; a white flag. Likely they die, but when they do, they die free. This is the fight the song is talking about; a non-violent stand against a very violent system. This is True Rebel music!

(Another song with a similar theme that I like this year was Something To Die For by The Sounds. Ultimately, when you find a life worth living, you will find those things worth dying for [better than something to kill for]. Unfortunately The Sounds song seems, again to be about a romantic relationship. Not quite the same potency as fighting against greed, domination and oppression.)

6. SNOW PATROL - THIS ISN'T EVERYTHING YOU ARE

This song is an attempt by Snow Patrol to bring hope to those who feel like a situation is hopeless.

In particular, this song is dealing with a woman in an abusive relationship. The lyrics encourage, "This isn't everything you are," because so often, to see hope, we need to understand our own story differently. We often take on an identity that is wrapped up with the things we've done or have been done to us that leave us feeling trapped, useless or destined for nothing better. This is simply not the case. We all have times when we need to redefine our story and realize that we don't have to be defined by circumstances or by our past. We can make a new choice, right now, today.

I have met so many youth who feel destined to fail, to be a loser, to be a nobody. They need the message "this isn't everything you are" to get into very being so that they can stop accepting the lie and begin writing a new story for themselves.

You are not the abuse you've experienced. You are not the violence of your past. You are not that horrible thing that you did. You are not your addiction. You are not the words that your mom or dad shouted at you in anger. You are not your mental health. You are not a loser. You are not a failure. You don't have to be violent. You don't have to be scared.

Let beauty & strength replace the lies you have believed about yourself. "I am beautiful" (yes the men too). "I am strong". Let that be your mantra. Anything that doesn't fit with you being beautiful and strong is a lie. Start believing the truth and re-write your story.

7. SHAD & DALLAS - LIVE FOREVER

Canadian Content! I'll let select lyrics from this song show you why this is a True Rebel song! People say they want to live forever, but what are we living for? What does it mean to really live?

"But why were we living so miserable/ can't get along/ why is forgiving so difficult/ Why we live alone/ what we living for is critical/ Someone give some hope that’s breath for our living souls"

"All my single ladies here's a couple lines, Love takes two people of one mind"

"I can't sweat trying to make the coolest impression/ Trying to get power is a foolish obsession/  Why use talent as a tool for oppression/ A real king ain't got to rule with a weapon."

"What if we went to school for possession instead of jail/ They say to stop the crazy talk Shad we never will/ I guess I still believe love can never fail."

"Like I could ever read what’s on the headstone ahead of me/ But in my head I see we are carving the letters/ Everyday that thought makes me live for the better."

"The truth comes out but it starts at the center The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart."

 

Later this week... Part 2 (Songs 8-14)


 
 
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