You Gotta Fight…

Jen Kehl at My Skewed View and Kristi at Finding Ninee host Twisted MixTape Tuesday, a blog hop that’s all about music.  The premise is to create a five song mix based on the week’s theme.  (You can click on the button above if you’d like to play along).

Here’s Jen’s instructions for today’s topic: If you were going to make a mix for a friend in the Nineties, what would it contain? This is NOT a best of. This is If You Were You, in the 90′s, and You Were Making A Mix Tape For A Friend (on any topic) What Would It Be?

Before I get into the “meat” of this post, let me warn you up front…the language in this post, in the songs’ lyrics, and the material featured in the videos is NSFW…Not Safe for Work, or small children, or pets, or house plants, or anyone easily offended by language or controversial subject matters.  You’ve been warned.  Proceed at your own risk.

In 1990, I took a job with an  international import company and moved overseas to Hong Kong.  In addition to completely flipping my life upside down, I was exposed to more of a global  musical culture while drinking Carlsberg or San Miguel in (now) classic HK bars and pubs like Scotties in Lan Kwai Fong.  The tiny dance floor was usually so packed on weekends you only had room to jump up and down.  The DJ was hot, serving up international dance tunes, most I hadn’t heard before.

But there was also a song, played twice nightly, that stuck in my brain, Special AKA’s Free Nelson Mandela, which was gaining popularity once again due to Mandela’s release earlier in the year and his negotiations to end apartheid.  What I didn’t realize I was missing back home in the good ole US of A, was the beginnings of the commercial grunge movement and the cyclical re-emergence of a subset of political/protest music moving away from the apathy of the origins of the genre.  Censorship, the first Gulf War, the events surrounding Rodney King and the L.A. riots were all fodder for this generation’s music with a message.

1.  We Care A Lot – Faith No More (1987).  This “anti-protest”  manages to bridge the gap between the isolated Seattle grunge subculture and the evolution to mainstream grunge in the early 90’s.  The parody of celebrities jumping on the bandwagon for “causes” in itself became a message and was one of the forerunners of the re-emergence of political and protest rock in the grunge musical style.

2.  Man in the Box – Alice in Chains (1991).   A very simple lyrical denouncement of censorship through the filter of a very high Layne Staley.  “Feed my eyes now you’ve sewn them shut.”

3.  Hush – Tool (1991).  I love Tool’s big old Fuck You, both musically and visually, to Tipper Gore and her PMRC bobbleheads.  Attacking the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) became one of the common themes of much of the protest music in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  What the PMRC ended up with (the advisory stickers) was very much different from their original agenda of censorship and limiting access to music that didn’t meet their ambiguous and restrictive moral codes.

**side note:  the next band on my list also protested against PMRC in a unique way.  They spent their whole set time at Lollapalooza  standing silently naked on stage with their mouths covered in tape like this:

ratm lollapalooza

4.  Killing in the Name – Rage Against the Machine (1992).  RATM’s one of most well-known of the political rock giants of this era.  Killing in the Name takes on the protest darlings of racism in military, government and police agencies.  I can’t wax poetic about this song when its own lyrics say so much more (and so much better) than I could ever manage myself.  Just listen.

5.  Warfair – Clawfinger (1993).  This Swedish rap-metal group is primarily known for its political and anti-racism messages in its music and signifies how the new uprising of political themes in music evolved from grunge to other genres towards the mid-90’s.

“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”  ~Kurt Cobain

Dream Sig 3

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26 comments

  1. GirlieOnTheEdge

    I wound up here via the Wakefield Doctrine and your post title – You Gotta Fight. Made me think of the Beasties:) Most excellent list here. I know and love all with the exception of #5. Hadn’t heard of these guys before today. Thanks for that ‘cuz I love hearing new music!
    Good post!

    • Dream

      Thanks and glad you stopped by. I wanted the title to be something “protesty” and it was originally “Get Up, Stand Up” but I wanted to change it to something more current. I didn’t run across Clawfinger until the mid 2000’s, but there’s just something about this song that I love.

  2. Clark Scottroger

    good ‘list sympatico’ I had Rage (still one of the my favorites) on the list for Part II… funny how in such a short time (as the last 2 two-part decades) we start to sort in our heads how to present the ‘scene we saw’ in a certain sequence… (you know Soundgarden is in the box for next week).

    Really enjoyed your list

    • Dream

      My Part 2 will be Angry White Girl Gym Music, but I didn’t include Soundgarden. Can’t wait to see which one makes your cut.

  3. Slu

    Dreamer… Wow!!! ‘Rage against the Machine’ says it all for your List. Can’t wait for next week, Slu

    • Dream

      Thanks, me too. While I really enjoy all the songs this week, next week’s is more about the 90’s songs I love enough to listen to almost every day during workouts.

  4. troy P.

    Wow – you placed a really tight list here. Rage was one of the bands that I should have thought of, and glad that you did (I’m also glad that you used a song from Faith’s original line up).

    • Dream

      I had planned to use a different RATM (Freedom), but Lance had used it for one of his blogs last week. I didn’t want to seem all copy-copy and there are so many great Rage songs that fit my theme, it wasn’t any problem to just switch them out. As for Faith, I went back into the 80’s for that one, not only to have it fit my theme, but just because I like it more than say Epic.

  5. Kristi Campbell

    I really like how you used this TMTT post to remind us about what an uproar the PMRC caused in music lovers and musicians. I remember my first reaction to it was “so what” but then I realized that it was censorship and represented such bigger freedoms. I had no idea that RATM protested naked. That is so cool (and something I wish I’d seen!). Love that you were kind enough to tell me up front that this may have been unsafe for my houseplants. They thank you.

    • Dream

      I remember vividly when it was formed because I was a freshman in college and did my very first research paper on censorship and the PMRC.

      So glad your houseplants were safe from my “devil music”.

  6. Jen

    Wow. This list was intense. I am so amazed by the huge range of music everyone is bring to this week’s list. It is truly amazing how we all had such a different musical experience in the 90’s. I really love the time you took to tie this in to a theme that musically was so important and I think so overlooked as we look backwards… Thank you.

    • Dream

      I think this has been my favorite (and most difficult) mix-tape so far, not only for the music, but because of the research I had to do to put it together and best convey the messages these guys were trying to smack us in the face with.

  7. Lance

    you went hard and I love it.

    I’m going to play Rage from later in the decade because Battle of Los Angeles is so great.

    This is such a personality defining list. I bet we’d have fun talking/listening to music.

    *fist bump*

    • Dream

      Yes, I’m thankful I’ve had plenty of alone time this week to enjoy all the 90-ness (and headbanging) myself.

    • Dream

      Epic is one of those songs that if I see it in my playlist, I pass it by. BUT, if I start hearing it, I think its a great song and wonder why I don’t listen to it more. One of my quirks, I guess.