Chris T-T has encountered this problem too, and has written the song Preaching To The Converted. Itch from the King Blues has said more or less the same thing. Who changed more people’s opinions, chart-toppers The Jam or The Clash or underground Anarcho-Punk bands like Discharge or Conflict? I bet Anarcho-Punks are more dedicated to politics than fans of The Specials, but the number of people who bought and were stimulated by Ghost Town greatly outnumber the punx.
So, if we are talking about empowering a mainstream audience, please allow me to explore the medium of poetry and poetry open mics. For poetry, it’s not really all that common to hear a politicalish poem here and there at open mic nights or slams. We poets are, by nature, going to be upset with authoritarian government impeaching on our artistic liberties. And, even worse than the musicians, we own a notion that we have something essential to say to the world. And that the world wants to listen. But we do have a fair whack of history behind us. We have Shelly’s Masque of Anarchy to back us up, and the anti-war poems that emerged from the First World War. We have William Blake. We’ve got Allan Ginsburg. We’ve got The Lost Poets, Jack Mapanje, Gill Scott-Heron, Ian McMillan, John Cooper Clarke and Attila The Stockbroker. And shout-out to less known fellows Captain Of The Rant, Cat Brogan, The Ruby Kid, Kate Tempest, Monkey Poet, Chemical Poets, Luke Hoggarth, Martin Dawes and Young Dawkins.
But in all times where there’s clearly a mass movement, an injection of inspirational art never went amiss. Coming from a theatre background, I’ve never been comfortable in going down the Emily Dickinson route of keeping my poems locked away privately. Reading aloud to a crowd, words can stir the soul to thoughts and actions. Like music, a poem read live is one of the most powerful tools we have in changing the world.
P.S. In response to the continous search for political music, personally, finding decent acts has never been a problem. I think large protest movements do inevitably give rise to more people getting involved with making political music, so if you’ve having to desperately scour to find political music online or at the right sort of gig, maybe you’re looking in the wrong places. Need some UK acoustic folk, with hints of the political, social conscious and protest? Louise Distras, Jake & The Jellyfish, Billy Liar, Richie Blitz, Ducking Punches, Mike Scott, Robin Leitch, Chas Palmer-Williams, The Casual Terrorist, Chris T-T, Gary Kaye, Mike Scott, Mike Only, Ed Ache, Emma Hallows, Perkie, Joe Tilston, Babar Luck, The Last Laugh, King Charles, Sam Russo, Al Baker, Shankland, Liam O’kane, Oxygen Thief and the collective Fold. Bands? Too many to mention. Here’s a few. ONSIND, The Junk, Tyrannosaurs Alan, Throw Rocks At Cops, Crazy Arm, The Exposed, Resolution 242, Dirty Revolution, Stand Out Riot.