Pink Floyd, Conservative Band

Perhaps it’s the onset of spring. Perhaps the previous post, on libraries, lowered my “lighter note” inhibitions, but the time feels opportune to raise a topic that’s been kicking around the corridors of my mind since Jay Nordlinger referred to a conservative’s knowledge of and affinity for Pink Floyd. Three points come to mind:

  1. Conservatives like form and a balance of artistry with aesthetics. As perhaps the archetypal band for concept albums, Pink Floyd hearkened back to longer-form art-music genres with the aesthetic of pop/rock music. (Society forgets that Schubert’s Die Winterreise [e.g.] was once pop music; precisely a “concept album” in different terms.) The band’s Atom Heart Mother, for example, makes many of the same maneuvers as may be heard on the 20th century samples on a survey of Western music (such as comes with the Norton Scores), but without abandoning the principle that it ought to be enjoyable to listen to.
  2. Conservatives are frequently converts from something else. Depending on the setting, I’ll be either ashamed or nostalgic to admit that experience enables me to discuss the best… moods in which to listen to different Pink Floyd albums, and I’m surely not alone among my current social and political compatriots.
  3. Perhaps because of the previous two points: Conservatives learn from art, even art with surface messages with which they disagree. Consider Pink Floyd’s The Wall: First, one can hardly listen to the music or watch the movie without discerning the anguish of the protagonist and readily identifying its causes (mainly cultural deterioration of family values); indeed, a cycle of causes and effects are what it’s all about. Second, as a cultural statement, The Wall offers a window into the society that created it. In a vlog posted a few months ago, I make the point with regard to The Wall that it successfully conveyed the cultural message that Nazi-style fascists would target the usual minority groups and employ a certain message and aesthetic. So thoroughly has our culture received and reconveyed that message that it is extremely unlikely that any looming totalitarians will be of that ilk. Noting this, a conservative will know to look elsewhere (as at the nanny state taking children away from heavyset parents in Scotland), while a liberal will sing along and defend such budding dictators against the protestations of classically liberal modern conservatives who bear a superficial resemblance to the oppressors of popular imagination.
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Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Of course, the fact that LSD and other less-than-conservative compounds and visions created all this great music is quite another thing!
That has always been the bane of conservatives and music – they have to listen to stuff, while making sure they don’t hear the words. Examples:
“White collared conservative walking down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me – they’re hoping my kind will soon drop and die, but I’m gonna wave my freak flag high”
Jimi Hendrix
Now if 6 – turned out to be 9 – I don’t mind. I don’t mind. If all the hippies cut off all their hair – I don’t care – I don’t care.
Are you experienced? Or have you ever been experienced? Well, I have…….let me prove it to you.
All Jimi…….
Much of the best of modern music is about freedom of the mind – Imagine (Lennon, etc.)…
All about peace and love and possibilities…
I remember about 1968 when my best friend introduced me to Pink Floyd. Back then, they had few or no albums for sale in America – he had to dig around in funky record shops for imports.
In any case, I never heard of touchy feeley conservatives – more like Ted Neugent screaming along with his wife with the fake boobs and makeup…thats’s conservative rock!
Or, Gene Simmons…the ultimate capitalist from Kiss. We’ll throw him to the conservative side.
But don’t even try to claim the Beatles or Floyd, or Jimi or most of the best of the best.
Expanding ones mind is the complete opposite of conservatism.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Brilliant musicians, and artists are able to reach just about everybody and make their music, or art, speak to the very core and beliefs of their audience. A conservative listens to Hendrix and hears freedom from taxation and oppressive rules and regulations, and a liberal hears the same music and hears freedom from responsibility and oppression, people with developing political philosophies hear the music and just love it, and could be influenced one way or the other, or not at all.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

LSD doesn’t create great music. Talented people create great music; at best, drugs provide subject matter. Some bands that was arguably decisive, others must be put in the “we’ll never know” category.
Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27 of a drug overdose, in part, as I recall, because his girlfriend hesitated to involve doctors. Hendrix is best known for his guitar talent, not his apt translation of drug culture into pop songs. “Little Wing” would have been just as engrossing without its composer’s drug use, and inasmuch as they were implicated in his death, drugs killed much more music from Jimi than they inspired.
And then there’s my point vis The Wall. Clearly Pink’s predicament is not desirable. One could make a case (if wasting money on a BA in Rock Culture or some such) that The Wall has parallel themes to Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, considering that familial breakdown, drugs, and social alienation ultimately lead the protagonist to fascistic fantasies.
As for the Beatles, I’ve always been fond of George Harrison’s characterization of the San Francisco scene: “A bunch of spotty, smelly teenagers.”

b
b
11 years ago

That’s an awfully closed-minded comment, Stuart. What exactly is the relevance of quoting Hendrix as counterpoint to Floyd?
Hendrix was certainly not known as a lyricist or concept writer, for good reason. His talent was as an innovator on the instrument. For example, his album, “Blues” is musically quite boring and derivative.
The Beatles wrote “Tax Man” as a protest against their government’s socialist policies. One of the main reasons for their breakup was the extreme Marxism of John Lennon. He was, of course, one of the greatest examples of hypocrisy in modern times, proclaiming Communism while living like a king on the riches that capitalism created for him. His political views were also at odds with his personal attitude towards his wealth, not being known for any kind of philanthropic works during his lifetime.
I will grant you that most pop/rock music is not conservative – it operates purely on an emotional level unencumbered by a thought process. Just like your posts.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

You miss the point, Justin.
Neither little wing nor the beatles something – both excellent love songs – would have been written if they did not free their minds. No way!
Listen to the music of the beatles before drugs and then after…before “She loves you, yeah – twist and shout”
after
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Strawberry fields, Fool on the Hill and many more.
Groups like the beatles and friends were rebelling against the grey cold world of their staid island and existence – expanding their minds and their horizons. The best music seems to come out of the worst times.
As to Jimi, you should listen to his antiwar love songs with headphones- like 1983, moon turn the tides, etc…..
It doesn’t matter how long one lives, it’s what effect they have on the world and the rest of us.
“oh, say can you see it’s really such a mess
Every inch of earth is a fighting mess
Giant pencil and lipstick tube shaped things
(missiles, etc.)
Continue to rain and cause screaming pain
And the Arctic stains from snowy blue to bloody red
(environment destruction)
while our feet find the sand and the sea
(while he and his lover walk down the beach to head underwater).
Words like that are written from an enlightened perspective. You can claim the world of Nixon, but not the works of Lennon and Jimi!

Justin Katz
11 years ago

The drugs and the arc of musical maturity were incidental, in the ’60s. That is to say that rock music came into its own at the same time as drug culture, and correlation is not causation (else there would have been plenty of psychedelia during the ’50s.
It’s just the arc of artistry. Beethoven’s First had its innovations but was pretty standard. Three set a new, thematic course, and Five and Six kicked it off, with Nine ultimately sealing the package. Just so, one can trace from “Love Me Do” through “Yesterday,” “I Feel Fine,” and “Yes It Is,” through Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s. One could suggest that too much mind freeing kept the Fab Four from achieving their own version of the Ninth. There’s some really excellent material from the White Album through Abbey Road, certainly setting new standards for rock albums, but the band never truly built on the innovations of Sgt. Pepper’s.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

For another example of how shmaltzy emotionalism appeals to Statists, the National Socialists greatly preferred Wagner to Beethoven. Most of the Conservatives I have known held the opposite opinion.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

The Nazis liked Wagner because he was an anti-Semitic nationalist whose operas honed in on regional mythology. Beethoven, by contrast, had a bit more of a French influence, thematically, and his masterwork (the Ninth Symphony) traced a very Christian theme — arguably a very conservative one (in the modern sense of “conservatism”) if one combines the lyrics with the music. In essence, the whole thing is the story of man, leading toward paradise, and there’s an amazing turnabout in the final movement during which the characters are about to march on Paradise, as it were, and take it by storm (perhaps a heaven on Earth) and realize that it doesn’t work that way.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

I nominate this for the funniest AR post of the year.
the Floyd is a “conservative” band?
you’re nearly a good laugh
Anti-authoritarian, yes.
Conservative, no.
You do realize, Justin, that there are both right-wing and left-wing authoritarians? Or have we gotten to the point where “liberal fascism” is the only fascism? Orwell now a conservative too, I suppose?
“a liberal will sing along and defend such budding dictators against the protestations of classically liberal modern conservatives”
ha ha, charade you are!
now that takes the cake. “classically liberal modern conservatives” You’re not claiming that mantle, are you? In the first place, what IS that? In the second, your very authoritarian beliefs on social issues don’t fit the “classical liberal” mold at all.
Sorry. I’m not interested much in debating your beliefs with you, but I’m also not interested in seeing you appropriate one of my favorite bands for your political purposes.
If you can get Roger Waters et. al. to endorse your interpretation (I’m a big fan of “original intent, don’t you know) I’ll retract all I’ve said.
but you’re really a cry

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

BobN says, “For another example of how shmaltzy emotionalism appeals to Statists, the National Socialists greatly preferred Wagner to Beethoven. Most of the Conservatives I have known held the opposite opinion.”
Since BobN has already told us that liberal=socialist=statist, it follows that liberals like Wagner (emotional/irrational) and conservatives like Beethoven (Rational)
I can’t wait to see what comes next!
As the kids say, “OMG”. This gets funnier and funnier. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
BTW, I prefer Beethoven to Wagner. Does that mean I’m a conservative?

thomas Schmeling
thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Wait! It’s all too clear!
Liberals like Wagner. Hitler liked Wagner.
Liberals are Hitler!
Why did I not see this before?
Seriously,
Before Dan and BobN arrived, you guys used to be interesting. Since then, this place has gone way too far down the rabbit hole.
Please come back.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

A bit of insomnia tonight leaves me free to follow up further (not that it makes anybody but me happy) as I listen to more Floyd. (If you haven’t, listen to the pre-DarkSideoftheMoon stuff…it’s amazing)
Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia:
Waters opposes the barrier being built by Israel between Israeli and Palestinian Territories, calling it an “obscenity” that should be torn down In December 2009 he pledged his support to the Gaza Freedom March. Waters has voiced his opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War in Afghanistan (2001–present):
Waters may or may not speak for the band but, really, this is a conservative voice?
Where did Nordlinger come up with this notion of the Floyd as conservative? I’m at a loss, unless the re-writing of history (shades of Orwell!) is now accepted practice.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

All the musicians you people mention produced a lot of noise.
Motown rules!!

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

I use to tune my guitar in “Open G” just like Jimmy Hendrix. You could get some awesome sounds without a lot of finger fretting! I played a lot of clubs and coffee houses and no I did not do the drug scene only the groupie women!!!! FREE LOVE BABY!!!!

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Happy St Patrick’s day to everyone and Happy St Joseph’s Day !!!!!!!!
The brewers of Guinness have declared “the single biggest party any one bar throws in the United States” is Murphy’s Bar and Grill in Honolulu HI. 6 city-blocks in Chinatown are turned into a street-side Guinness Pub after a 2 1/2 hr parade. Eat your heart out Newport, RI!
For photos see or visit: http://murphyshawaii.com/

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Boy, Thomas, there’s a whole range of enjoyable conversation that your condescension will apparently not allow you to enjoy… or at least allow other people to enjoy with you.
That you think I’m authoritarian suggests that you’re either substituting a caricature in the place of my actual body of writing or you don’t pursue such questions to a very deep level.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Thomas, it always surprises me that a clever and educated fellow like you would purposely engage in such elementary feats of illogic (unless, of course, you are purposely being intellectually dishonest, perhaps to promote ideas that fit your prejudices).
Here are a couple of corrections for you:
conservative = anti-authoritarian, subject to the principle that one’s freedom must not infringe on another’s rights. Notice that for a person who is educated on the meaning and importance of principles, no authoritarian is required to prevent such infringement. Character, however, is required; but I suspect that this concept may be alien to you.
“Most conservatives I have known prefer Beethoven to Wagner” does not equal “Preferring Beethoven makes you a conservative.”
Rock musicians are not known for their thoroughness or consistency of philosophical or political analysis. It is entirely possible for the people who wrote “The Wall” to hold, decades or even minutes later, opinions that conflict with its message on other topics. Particularly when one is steeped in peer pressure cooker of entertainment celebrity idiocrats.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>The drugs and the arc of musical maturity were incidental, in the ’60s. Justin, you are showing ignorance! Are you really so set in your ways that you cannot understand that music is more than some corporate produced series of notes? Next thing you will tell us SEX, and specifically premarital sex, was not a driver for the love of Elvis! Music is often a relator of experience through feeling and emotion. It is a way of saying what often cannot be put into words. Listen to Axis: Bold As Love (the song) and see how the guitar takes over when the words cannot reach any higher – same with Pink Floyd. It is a way of reaching from soul to soul. In fact, strangely enough, I first found the holy spirit through a piece of Jimis music, and this was before I had even smoked pot! My brother, who was older, has purchased Axis-Bold as Love (the album) and it had the words printed on the back. Although I had been to Sunday School, Church and Synagogue I never understood what all the spirit fuss was about. Then I read the words to Castles Made of Sand, and I felt this pleasurable tingle rush up my spine! Read them Justin, and try to understand deeply. Or, better yet, listed to the song carefully while reading them. You might just get more of any understanding of the human condition. That is likely to make you into a better person and writer! ———- Down the street you can hear her scream you’re a disgrace As she slams the door in his drunken face And now he stands outside And all the neighbors start to gossip and drool He cries oh, girl you must be mad, What happened to the sweet love… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Joe, you are right about Motown – my wife is the James Brown fan. But that is all mostly about bumping and grinding – great music, though……not exactly spiritual.
Let’s get it on!
Sex Machine!
and my favs on guitar:
I feel good
Heard it through the grapevine
Midnight Hour
You must be an Amy WInehouse fan!
As far as noise, I admit you must be in the right mood (what we called the right head) to understand Hendrix and even the deeper Beatles stuff. On the other hand, I don’t like Bob Dylans music!

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Stuart is an excellent example of the Peter Pan syndrome that afflicts most of the Modern American Left.

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

Oh, man. Puff, puff, pass, Justin.

“ladies and gentlemen, please welcome reagan and haig
mr. begin and friend mrs. thatcher and paisley
mr. brezhnev and party
the ghost of mccarthy
the memories of nixon
and now adding colour a group of anonymous latin
american meat packing glitterati”
did they expect us to treat them with any respect

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I’ve never heard anything by Amy Winehouse.
My favorite contemporary singers are Mariah Carey and Norah Jones.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Joe, check out Amy. It is the modern R&B or motown sound….it is coming around again. Once again, our RI “conservatives” try to refine history AND definitions. Conservative, as defined by the modern version of it, is STRONGLY authoritarian and violence prone. It is all about the Big Daddy Leader (Bush/Cheney) and the Big Religion Leaders (Evangelical Pastors, etc.) telling the flock that they are watching out for them! It is not thinking outside the box, but hiding deep within the box with weapons protecting you. It is the exact opposite of the general direction of the 60’s and 70’s music, which was about experimentation (with drugs, sex and life style). I can only think that the right is doing this on purpose – that is, trying to rewrite history once again, on purpose. Any person of basic intelligence has to know that the music of the 60’s and 70’s flowed from drugs, counterculture, being SICK of the status-quo (NIXON AND WATERGATE), etc. It’s not possible to rewrite history that much…and, frankly, there is no reason to do so. Justin, you can feel free enjoying all those good things that drugs and mind expansion have brought you, from Pink Floyd to Apple Computer and much more in-between! To that we can add the internet, which was largely programmed by a bunch of long hairs…..although financed by the government and leftist educational institutions. Maybe the problem is this – if Justin really looks out there at most of what makes the world great – he will see that it relates to Liberal Thought – that being the liberal thoughts of Einstein, Newton, Jefferson and even up to Henry Ford and Silicon Valley. I know a number of engineers who were in on the early days of Silicon Valley and it was… Read more »

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Jimi Hendrix”
Ah, fabulous talent, effortless creativity. Taken away far too soon by personal excess.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Well, Stuart, I see we’ve reached the boundaries of our ability to communicate. You’re insisting that I go well beyond the points that I was making, which made no claims that rock music was somehow a result of the conservative movement or that rock musicians are or consider themselves to be part of that movement. Rather, the point was that it isn’t inexplicable that modern conservatives might like Pink Floyd and that there might even be some conservative lessons behind the artistry.
To close: I don’t know why you’re insisting that sex and drugs are inherently liberal. Perhaps the problem is that, when I say “conservative,” I mean one thing, but when you say it, you insist on another that doesn’t apply. “Conservatism” can be a relative marker (“more conservative than”), generally with respect to a particular issue, or it can be a broad movement defined by the current political alignments. It’s really too bad that you’re so dogmatic.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Incidentally, we’re not redefining history, here, we’re redefining conservatism. Call the movement whatever you will; the ideas and beliefs behind them are the thing.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Justin, you are trying to redefine the genre – unless your definition of “conservative” is 100% other than that of what we have been hearing and seeing from the tea party, the christian coalition, focus on the family and all the other members of the US RIght. The English Language and especially pop culture are very reliant on common meaning and experience. Conservative means, in general, looking to the PAST for how things should be. Or, staying with the status quo. In the modern vernacular, it means the concepts of family values, promoting and projecting military power all over the world, and deregulation of business. Maybe we are all confused because there is really no proper definition for conservatism. But, short of that, you can’t make up your own. Maybe you should call it “Katzism” and then you can at least set the basic standards and see if things measure up to that. The conservatism of the modern founders (Goldwater, Buckley) is vastly different than that recent examples of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Palin and all the rest. Honestly, I would be embarrassed to call myself a conservative if I were as well read as you are! Why identify with a cause that has disgraced itself and consists of people like Palin? It would be better to just crow about how good a particular band is/was than try to align them with a movement – that is, unless (like Ted Nugent) you are prove they are so! Let me add my man Bruce Springsteen to the liberal side. Of course, there are thousands more. I However, here are some rock stars that are claimed to be conservative. lice Cooper Danny Elfman Neil Peart of Rush Kid Rock C.C. Deville (of Poison) James Hetfield (of Metallica) Dave Mustaine (formerly of Metallica, now Megadeth) Gene Simmons… Read more »

Russ
Russ
11 years ago

CONSERVATIVE, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

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