I listen to music. A lot. It’s my consumer weakness, along with reading my biggest cultural enjoyment. I’ve been revisiting some old albums lately, music I listened to with my mum, and I realised something terrifying.
All of my political opinions may have been formed in my teens, by listening to pop songs.
The soundtrack to Hair explains not only why I’m a bit of a greenie hippy who’s bad at getting haircuts, but lots of gender and sexuality questioning, anti-war pacificism, anti-racism, with just a touch of libertarianism around drugs and sex. If you think that’s a lot for one album to hold, you haven’t listened to it:
The first album my parents bought me was Polygram Solid Gold Hits Volume 2. Giving me little chance of heterosexuality, what with all the hot “making love to you is such a thrill” disco and everything:
Slightly later there was Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Phranc, Tracey Chapman, Ani Difranco and Billy Bragg. But possibly the most influential to my early political thinking, the incredibly brilliant and beautiful Paul Weller in the Jam and later Style Council:
“You don’t have to take this crap, you don’t have to sit back and relax, you can actually try changing it.” Yeah baby.
I don’t think the newer music I’m buying now is having as significant an effect on my brain, no doubt a bit more set in it’s ways these days. But Eilen Jewell’s still pretty damn funky when she updates the girl-group sound and tells women to pay attention to warning signs:
Confession over, back to pretending my views are well-informed, based on evidence, and very very smart. Yeah, right.