Thursday, August 14, 2008

Music with a Message

Here is the play list for this weeks radio program. In the process of preparing this I have had the opportunity to reflect on the difficulties in transposing an academic exercise into a practice. On a cognitive level I try to link the songs together in themes but from a listening perspective it can be difficult to get them in an order that also allows the styles of music to complement each other.

I am trying not to swap from rap to contemporary and back again – James Brown directly after Public Enemy just doesn’t work on a pleasure level... but then again I’m not sure Billy Bragg should come straight after either... (I am spending many an hour having these types of thoughts). I have resigned myself to doing the best with what I have and accepting that I can’t always have a smooth transition.

Those that have been listening might also be interested to know that the added complication is that I have to burn my music to two discs (due to file size) and as some songs are protected (GRRRR) I can only play the discs on the station’s computer – this means that I have to have another song in the middle on CD that doesn’t disturb the flow too much to give me time to change the discs over. I have tried burning MP3 discs by ripping the music back into iTunes but a) it takes forever and b) the loss of quality is not good for public performance.

I have analysed my legal position with respect to burning the music and there are a number of overlapping exceptions under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) that would apply including personal use (s109A), educational purpose (s103C) and reproduction for the purpose of broadcasting (s107). This combination of sections reflects the different uses I wish to make of the music I am purchasing.

Changes were made to the Copyright Act at the end of 2006 to enable personal use – under the law as it previously stood I would have been entitled to make the copies for the purposes of broadcasting, would have been in an uncertain legal situation when making the copies for study purposes (arguably it is not necessary for me to burn any extra copies seeing as I have the originals) but would not have been allowed to play the discs at home for my own pleasure.

Whilst I do like many of the songs I am playing there are some that I would never personally choose to play and a few which do not reflect my personal views. My favourite from this list is The Herd’s 77% - they speak the truth! (Whilst the song is about immigration policy, I particularly like the line ‘Australian SAS troops are in danger of breaking the laws of piracy’ – now wouldn’t that lend itself to a mashup relating to copyright law). LANGUAGE WARNING...

Explicit language is also a tendency of many political songs and last week I was thinking of putting them all together and telling people not to listen for the first hour if it bothers them.Ironically enough the first of these was Ice T's Freedom of Speech which refers to the censoring of explicit language. I ended up spreading them out a little more and have saved some of the songs for weeks to come.

The last song on this list - The Impressions, People Get Ready - to my mind also serves as an example of the difficulties in defining political music. Listening to it, it seems to be a song about religion and faith but it was on a compliation CD of protest music. Perhaps it was used in a context that I am not familiar with. Its not the first song I would use as an example of this type of expression.

On another note altogether, I am excited because I have just ordered the ‘Rock the Net’ compilation CD from the Future of Music Coalition – as soon as that arrives I hope to feature it as an example of the use of music for political purposes. I have also recently won two eBay bids – the first is the four disc DVD set of the Live Aid concert and a two DVD and one CD set of the Concerts for Climate Change which I also hope to use in coming weeks.

Neville Brothers, My Blood
Josh White, Free and Equal Blues
The Freedom Singers, Which Side Are You On? Civil Rights Version
Big Bill Broozny, Black, Brown and White
Bruce Springsteen, American Skin (41 Shots)
Public Enemy, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos
The Crack Emcee, Red, White & Blue
Jackson Browne, For America
The Clash, I’m So Bored with the USA
Anne Feeney, Rebuild America/Keep Hope Alive
James Brown, Peace in the World
Billy Bragg, Like Soldiers Do
Billy Bragg, Between the Wars
Neville Brothers, Wake Up

Hilltop Hoods, Obese Lowlifes Restrung
The Herd, The King is Dead
The Herd, 77%
Midnight Oil, Truganini
Yothu Yindi, Treaty
Our Home Our Land, Respect for Eddie Mabo
Our Home Our Land, From Little Things Big Things Grow
Our Home Our Land, This Land’s Worth More than Silver and Gold
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
The Pixies, Monkey Gone to Heaven
Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
Curtis Mayfield, If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go
Amos Lee, Shout Out Loud
The Impressions, People Get Ready

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