Tuesday, October 05, 2004

and now it's time for 'thought for the day'

Earlier this week Radio 4's Today programme aired an interview with Tom Waits plugging his new CD. Pretty unusual item for a topical news and current affairs show. It seems that this record is Waits' most overtly political of his career. Fine. Except that the extent of the incisive comment seemed to be a line about the controversial result of the last presidential election - 'Everyone knows that the game was rigged.' When pressed for his views Waits couldn't cope. He had absolutely nothing worthwhile to say, mumbling something along the lines of 'please don't ask me, it's not my area'. Even when asked a safer question about where his songs come from, Waits couldn't resist the bumper sticker schtick of 'God gives'em to me free... I sell'em to you'.

I remember when Paul Heaton was in the Housemartins who had something of a Socialist tag at the time. He was always being asked for his opinions on the political questions of the day and professed amazement that so many people were interested in the opinions of someone who writes three minute pop-songs. Years later he went on Question Time and proved to everyone why they shouldn't be interested in his views which were largely crass, naïve and embarrassing and made little sense outside of a rhyming couplet.

Paul Weller was, for years, a 'spokesman for a generation'. Admittedly, he didn't apply for the vacancy which is perhaps as well because he doesn't give good interview. His ramshackle political views have changed with the wind over the years. I have to think that what he might try to pass off as misunderstood humour is more down to a lack of 'O' levels.

I don't mean to get too down on Tom and the Pauls...seasoned campaigners all. They've pulled off some nifty tricks in their time. Neither, do I think pop should avoid politics. However, if you profess to have a point, it's usually best to actually have one.