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Four Classic Rock Songs for the Dissident Right

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Like a lot of people in Generation X, I grew up on rock music, especially classic rock. I still love the stuff. Despite this, I predict that most classic rock will prove increasingly irrelevant to the Dissident Right as we tilt our spears deeper into the twenty-first century. But isn’t this a little counter-intuitive?

The Dissident Right is defined by its rebellious stance, and wasn’t rock and roll also a form of rebellion? Wouldn’t at least some rock music hold meaning in modern dissident culture since both find themselves on the wrong side of the status quo? I would argue not at all. This similarity is specious at best.

In a sense, it was the precursors of today’s Dissident Right which rock and roll initially rebelled against—for example, the traditionalists, conservatives, race realists, patriots. Squares, basically. Rock and roll was not for squares, and its uninhibited (and often sexual) energy served only to alienate those squares simply because they chose not to degenerate along with the times. Despite this antithetical relationship, however, I would like to offer four classic rock songs that will likely outlive the rock era and provide comfort and inspiration for rightist dissidents in years to come.

Here are my parameters.

  1. Beyond its already high quality, the song must address dissident themes. High quality alone will not make the cut. For example, “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys or “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles are beautiful rock songs that may survive for centuries, but still won’t have any more meaning to dissident movements than, say, an equally beautiful string quartet by Haydn.
  2. The song must be able to address the existential concerns of the Dissident Right without completely reversing the artist’s original intent. “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival pounds with rebellion in every note and is a cracking great rock song. Nonetheless, it is so rooted in Vietnam War protest and neo-Marxist class struggle that one would have to pervert its meaning entirely in order to make it make sense to the Dissident Right.
  3. The songwriters don’t have to like us. Most of them are still living, and I’m sure they would be appalled to see their work appear on a list like this one. But we shouldn’t care about that. One day they will be gone, but our movement will endure.
  4. The song must be classic rock—so excluded genres include country, heavy metal, hardcore punk, and pretty much everything these genres gave rise to. This is partially due to my lack of affinity to such genres. And ignorance. Don’t forget ignorance. Man can’t write about everything.

Song #1: “Black Messiah” by the Kinks, 1978

(Adapted from my article of the same name from June 2016)

This song is so overtly race-realist that I am shocked that it could ever appear on a record by a band as mainstream and popular as the Kinks. It starts with a defensive plea:

Everybody got the right to speak their mind
So don’t shoot me for saying mine

Note the high stakes here. Songwriter Ray Davies is telling us that someone might shoot him for speaking his mind. Recently Greg Johnson was arrested in Norway not for something he said, but for something he might say. Shortly before that, violent Antifa thugs prevented him from speaking at the Scandza Forum in Copenhagen. So, right away this is a relevant song for the Right.

It continues:

Everybody talk about racial equality
Everybody talk about equal rights
But if I told you that God was black…
What would you think of that?
I bet you wouldn’t believe it.

After the Age of Obama and his mulatto kleptocracy, I can believe it.

There’s a self-made prophet living right next to me
He says the Black Messiah’s gonna come and set the whole world free
He looked at me with his evil eye
And he prophesied.
And he really believed it.

He said a Black Messiah
Is gonna set the word on fire.
And he no lie-a
Cause he has truly heard the word.

By calling this prophet ‘self-made’ and referring to his ‘evil eye,’ clearly we are not supposed to take him very seriously. Now, here’s the kicker in which our narrator identifies as white and shares his (completely different) side of the story:

Everybody talk about racial equality
But I’m the only honkie living on all black street
They knock me down
Cause they brown
And I’m white
Like you wouldn’t believe it.

I’m sure a white liberal wouldn’t believe it. It seems our narrator is speaking to a white liberal, trying to tell him how things really are: that blacks are racist and violent and tend to target white people with their crimes. Then we have this:

Everybody talk about racial equality
Everybody talk about equal rights
But white’s white and black’s black.
And that’s that.

So what is this supposed to mean? It means that blacks and whites are different and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not education. Not social engineering. Not public welfare. Not affirmative action. Absolutely nothing. “And that’s that.” Later in the song, Davies doubles down on this race business and says, “And that’s the way you should leave it.”

Yes! I agree. We should leave it. The fact that racial differences are real is a big reason why blacks belong in their countries, and whites in theirs—a central tenet of the Dissident Right.

But it’s not just the lyrics that make this song so relevant. It’s the music as well. It is a catchy, if somewhat indolent, reggae number. Yes, reggae. The song uses black music to be critical of black people from a race-realist perspective. It would be like Eric Clapton writing a blues number about how black people can’t help but steal and have illegitimate children. That would be pretty shocking, wouldn’t it? Only “Black Messiah” is even more so given that the Kinks weren’t exactly known for reggae.

But there’s more. Incredibly, as if to double down on its negrophobia, the song then slides effortlessly, seamlessly, into Dixieland jazz! A whole horn section in glorious improvisation. What pop song goes from reggae to Dixieland and back again? It is truly one of the most delightful and surprising moments in all of rock music. Ray Davies could have written this song about his Aunt Minnie’s buttermilk biscuits, and this transition alone would still have made the song marvelous. But the fact that he skewers blacks with a second genre of their music speaks worlds for what he thinks of a black messiah. It’s like he’s going into enemy territory, fighting them on their own terms, and winning. “Black Messiah” inspires me every time I hear it.

Song #2: “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” by Jim Croce, 1972

(Adapted from my “A Dissident Remembers Jim Croce” essay from February 2019)

With acoustic guitar and piano ominously prickling the edges of this thumping folk-rock number, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” evokes a timeless mythology of fighting men and a world in which strength, stature, prowess, and reputation serve to extend a man’s power over other men. Crucial to this narrative is the promise of the showdown. Think Achilles and Hector, Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff, Holmes and Moriarty, Gary Cooper in High Noon, Batman and Bane.

Just like Croce’s smash hit, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” transcends genre and can be applied anywhere and at any time—Club-wielding cavemen, Japanese samurais, dueling officers, barbarian warlords, feuding Khans, it all fits—as long as you have aggressive men with not enough resources to go around (and yes, in this case, women are resources). In this song, an alpha male gets a little too full of himself and has to face a challenge from a determined rival. The encounter is primal and bloody, and there is only one winner. For Leroy Brown, the dispute is over a woman. For Big Jim Walker it’s over money. Can’t get more universal and masculine than that—and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

The story begins on 42nd Street in New York City where Big Jim Walker, pool hustler extraordinaire, rules the roost. We don’t get a clear read on the man’s race. He could be black, he could be white. Croce descends into a bit of Ebonics in this song, so you be the judge:

Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come
But he’s stronger than a country hoss
And when the bad folks all get together at night
You know they all call big Jim “Boss”
Yeah, I’d like to think of him as black.

Then enter Willie “Slim” McCoy, whom Walker had recently hustled. McCoy says he wants his money back but he really wants something more. What follows is one of my all-time favorite verses in pop music:

Well, outta south Alabama come a country boy
He say I’m lookin’ for a man named Jim
I am a pool-shootin’ boy
My name is Willie McCoy
But down home they call me Slim
Yeah, I’m lookin’ for the king of 42nd Street
Drivin’ a drop top Cadillac
Last week he took all my money
And it may sound funny
But I come to get my money back
And everybody say, Jack, don’t you know

And you don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Two clues point to the fact that Willie McCoy is indeed white. One, he’s from south Alabama, which is about as redneck and as deep into the former Confederacy as you can get. And two, Croce calls McCoy a “country boy.” Yes, blacks do live in the Alabama countryside, but the expression “country boy,” as in “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams, Jr., typically refers to a white guy, not a black one.

So when looking only at the text, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” can be seen as a fight between a white and a black. And the white wins.

What does McCoy really have on his mind when he walks into Big Jim’s pool room? Nothing less than murder. He wants to get back what’s his and leave Jim in pieces on the floor. This is essentially what happens, and I love how Croce describes it:

And when the cuttin’ was done
The only part that wasn’t bloody
Was the soles of the big man’s feet

“You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” should hold special meaning for the Dissident Right because it parallels the white experience vis-à-vis the Left and the hordes of non-whites currently invading the West. We had something great once. It got hustled from us by criminals, frauds, and liars. And now we want it back. I predict that the current culture wars will culminate in a bloody fight which will closely resemble the fight scene in this song. Whites will wake up and realize that they will have no choice but to fight in order to regain what they once had.

And when that happens, every single one of us should become Willie McCoy and arm ourselves with the words of Jim Croce:

Well, outta south Alabama come a country boy…

Song #3: “Safe European Home” by the Clash, 1978

A single snare shot announces the beginning of this insanely catchy rocker. In musical terms, “Safe European Home” rocks about as hard as possible while remaining within the classic rock genre. Fast, electric, yet melodic with sing-songy backing vocals, this song ironically pines for peace and tranquility. The lyrics are hard to catch but basically tell the story of a man who spends time in the third world and is thrilled to return to his “safe European home.” Things, apparently, were not so great outside of Europe.

I went to the place where every white face
Is an invitation to robbery
And sitting here in my safe European home
Don’t wanna go back there again

So returning to the ethnocentricity expressed in “Black Messiah,” we have a song the perspective of which verifies anti-white behavior among non-whites. Whites are basically suckers for being around them since the non-whites in question are only looking to rob them in one way or another. It is also safe to assume that these non-whites are indeed black since singer and co-songwriter Joe Strummer hints that “Natty dread drinks at the Sheraton Hotel.”

He also delivers this quite telling stanza which settles all the doubt:

They got the sun and they got the palm trees
They got the weed, and they got the taxies
Whoa, the harder they come and the home of the bluebeat
Yes, I’d stay and be a tourist but can’t take the gun play.

The Harder they Come is a Jamaican crime movie from 1972—the soundtrack of which became an iconic reggae album in its own right. Further, “bluebeat” is a form of West Indian pop music from the 1960s. So Strummer is talking about blacks, specifically Jamaican blacks, whose penchant for “gun play” was well known even back in 1978.

And all he wants to do is get away from them. What could be more Dissident Right than that?

The outro of “Safe European Home” is both prophetic and terrifying. It runs for about a minute and a half with dueling vocals pitting variations of “Rudie can’t fail” versus variations of “European home.” “Rudie Can’t Fail” is a later song by the Clash appearing on 1980’s London Calling, with “rudie” most likely referring to Jamaican “rude boys”—punks basically. Where in “Rudie Can’t Fail,” it’s ambiguous whether the “can’t fail” line is ironic, in “Safe European Home” it comes off as a threat. In the hindsight afforded to us after forty years, we can interpret it no other way.

“Rudie come from Jamaica,” Strummer tells us. We’re no longer in the West Indies. We’re back in Europe, and rude boys come follow us home, see? As Strummer chants repetitively about Rudies shooting and looting and not failing, co-writer Mick Jones reminds us of the song’s title, stretching out “European home” over Strummer’s increasingly spastic vocals. It’s hard to decipher what Jones is saying about his European home. But clearly, the themes are competing, with Jones hollering out “Explosive European home!” towards the end of the song.

Apparently, Europe is not so safe after all. By predicting the failure of multiracialism and mass third world immigration, “Safe European Home” has become nothing less than a clarion call for European whites to remember how safe their homes used to be before the rude boys moved in. If you listen carefully, you’ll find that whenever the song’s title is sung, Jones sings it together with Strummer, adding a rough harmony to the lyric. It reminds us that a home is not just for one person. Homes are for families and for nations, and these homes are now under dire threat. As a powerful, churning rocker, “Safe European Home” can only inspire us to one day take our homes back.

Song #4: “Powderfinger” by Neil Young, 1979

The blackest of all black pills, “Powderfinger” represents one of the few moments of great genius in the rock era—and perhaps one of the last great gasps of Western music. A searing electric live number, there’s really nothing like it. With its driving beat and several jagged, sub-virtuosic guitar solos, the song is recognizably rock, but its harrowing story and spectral narration makes it so much more. “Powderfinger” embodies a nihilism of historic proportions, something that makes a joke out the work of Young’s dourest contemporaries. Lou Reed at his best could portray the chilling desolation of a fallen world (“Heroin,” “Street Hassle”). Bruce Springsteen is unparalleled at depicting a man’s descent into such a world (“Stolen Car,” “State Trooper”). But these are personal impressions of individual characters. Poignant and moving, yes, but limited when compared to the apocalyptic conflict in “Powderfinger.” Perhaps the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” approaches its Faustian scope. But it’s too allegorical, too fantastic in my opinion to compete.

Young’s song gives us an abundance of personal impressions, told from the perspective of a young man who has just emerged from childhood and hasn’t had the time to grapple with the issues plaguing the characters above. He himself is not slipping into that fallen world like Lou Reed’s drug dealers or Springsteen’s car thieves. No, the world has already fallen, and this innocent young man, not even in his prime of life, is going down with it. Therein lies the unspeakable tragedy of “Powderfinger.”

The story seems simple and takes place entirely in a few seconds, but you can practically reach your arms between the lines—and God knows what you’ll find. Our protagonist is a member of a family or clan that is, for unknown reasons, at odds with authority. He spots a gunboat coming down the river and notes wryly that “it don’t look like they’re here to deliver the mail.” His father is dead and he realizes that there are no elder men around to deal with this crisis.

So the powers that be left me here to do the thinkin’
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wondering what to do
And the closer they got
The more those feelings grew.

Then Young unloads what might the most terrifying lyrics in rock:

Daddy’s rifle in my hand felt reassuring
He told me red means run, son. Numbers add up to nothing.

What does that even mean? The boat’s beacon is red. It has numbers on its side. Could that be it? Or is this an us-versus-them thing? As in, they outnumber us. And “red means run”—what is that? Could it be the red of blood, the blood of battle? Was the old man imparting the futility of fighting to his son? If so, then why does his rifle feel so reassuring? Does the boy want to die?

But when the first shots hit the dock, I saw it coming
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why
Then I saw black
And my face flashed in the sky

So that’s it. The boy is shot. The boy is dead. But his story isn’t. We know because he keeps telling it.

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Think of me as one you’d never figure
To fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love, I know I’ll miss her

Young waits until the very last line to disclose a sense of loss—just a simple and plain reference to romantic love in the face of oblivion. Any more I think might have been corny—anything less would have been incomplete. But it’s the first two lines of this last stanza which are the most devastating for me. By “powder” (as in gunpowder) and “finger,” he’s clearly referring to the man on the gunboat who had just killed him. But why is our hero asking for shelter now that he’s dead? Isn’t it a little late for that? Or maybe he’s referring to his memory in the minds of others? Or perhaps it’s something otherworldly? And “cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger” . . . could there be any greater embrace of defeat? Where he could have called for his surviving family members to sound an alarm or organize a defense or somehow prove his sacrifice that not been in vain, instead he wants the reason for his death to “cover” him. As in to bury? As in to hide? Who knows? But what we do know is this young man’s precocious sense of fatalism lives on after he’s dead.

Like nothing else, this song hurts.

And why does he have such fatalism? Because of who is he is and what he represents and how for him and his kind, time has run out. The dissident theme of “Powderfinger” is strong up until this point, but since it is cut in blood and soil, we see how easily it can be applied specifically to the struggles of dissidents on the Right. First, there is no mention of rebellion or organized warfare. This is peacetime, and despite the hillbilly character of our hero and family, the South is not about to rise again. Second, Young also does not mention any criminal behavior which would cause the Man to come bearing down on these people. Any talk of bootlegging liquor or growing cannabis or the letters “DEA” on the side of the boat would make the song little more than a precursor to “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle with its considerably less profound (yet not insignificant) meaning. Finally, Young offers no indication of why that gunboat is coming after these people except that it is because they are these people—it is because of our hero’s blood and familial relations with Mama and Dad and his brother and Big John and Annie Lou and his unnamed love. These are enemies of the state not for any ideology but for who they are.

Yes, “Powderfinger” does not overtly or covertly mention race like the previous songs do. But what is race other than extended ties of blood? A non-racial, non-dissident interpretation of the song can suggest the inevitability of primordial man being mangled in the relentless gears of Progress. There’s certainly some validity in this. But for the purposes of the Dissident Right, the door opens for a much deeper and more chilling interpretation.

This is the future of the white race. If we continue down the path we’re on with mass immigration and multiracialism, the only outcome for whites is oblivion. And “Powderfinger” depicts quite evocatively what that oblivion would be like—a despised minority living entirely at the whim of a hostile and malicious state which seeks its ultimate eradication. Things have gotten so bad that resistance becomes at best romantic and at worst utterly meaningless. Think of the 25,000 Zoroastrians trying to survive among 82 million Muslims in Iran. Think of 11 million Uighurs being swallowed up by over a billion Chinese. Think of the Don Cossacks and Russian Old Believers and the Ukrainian Kulaks whom the Soviets massacred or starved or march into gulags by the millions. Think of the Emims, a Biblical people once “great, and many, and tall” that had already faded into misty legend by the time of Deuteronomy.

Is this what we want? Yet whether or not we want it, this is what we’re gonna get if we, as whites, don’t do something about it now. “Powderfinger” should serve as the greatest cautionary tale of them all. If we take it’s meaning to heart today perhaps we will dodge a bullet tomorrow, unlike the tragic hero of the song.

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30 Comments

  1. Delian diver
    Posted December 28, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Apologies for off-topic.

    Is anybody going to write an article about Frank Zappa? His lyrics (not to mention his musical skills) definitely deserves to be considered as… As what? See lyrics examples:

    Tinsel Town Rebellion (1981)

    They’ll sell their ass, their cocks and balls
    They’ll take the check ‘n’ walk away
    If they’re lucky they’ll get famous
    For a week or two perhaps
    They’ll buy some ugly clothes to wear
    And hope the business don’t collapse
    Before some stupid magazine
    Decides they’re really good
    They’re a Tinsel Town Rebellion Band

    Flakes (1979)

    Flakes! Flakes!
    Flakes! Flakes!

    They don’t do no good
    They never be workin’
    When they oughta should
    They waste your time
    They’re wastin’ mine
    California’s got the most of them
    Boy, they got a host of them

    Bobby Brown Goes Down (1979)

    Hey there, people, I’m Bobby Brown
    They say I’m the cutest boy in town
    My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
    I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie
    Here I am at a famous school
    I’m dressin’sharp ‘n’ I’m
    Actin’ cool
    I got a cheerleader here wants to help with my paper
    Let her do all the work ‘n’ maybe later I’ll rape her
    Oh God I am the American dream

    Women’s Liberation
    Came creepin’ across the nation
    I tell you people, I was not ready
    When I fucked this dyke by the name of Freddie
    She made a little speech then,
    Aw, she tried to make me say when
    She had my balls in a vice, but she left the dick
    I guess it’s still hooked on, but now it shoots too quick
    Oh God I am the American dream
    But now I smell like Vaseline
    An’ I’m a miserable sonofabitch
    Am I a boy or a lady… I don’t know which

    Etc…

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted December 29, 2019 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      I have been thinking of a Zappa essay for years.

  2. Jay
    Posted December 16, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I have every Kinks album. I highly recommend “Village Green Preservation Society”, “Arthur, the Decline and Fall of the British Empire”, “Sonething Else by the Kinks” and “Muswell Hillbillies” as their best! That is not to say they don’t have great songs on other albums. But if you know the bio of Ray Davies, he resisted the psychedelic rock culture of the late ‘60’s, it would seem largely because he had knocked up a girl and gotten married and refused to have an abortion. His personality also inclined him toward a native love of Britain, which is more apparent than in any British rock then or after. They made great music, great beat, and were conservative. My favorite band for many years in the rock arena.

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 6:43 am | Permalink

      Hi Jay,

      I agree with your list. I am planning on a comprehensive review of Arthur for CC one of these days. Muswell Hillbillies is my favorite, although Face to Face and the Lola album are also excellent. Never quite figured out Something Else though…

      “A Little Bit of Emotion” from Low Budget however is also one of my favorites. I simply love the Kinks.

      • Jay
        Posted December 17, 2019 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        I would say that the song “Autumn Almanac” although not from the album “Something Else By the Kinks” (1967) but from that year, is one of my favorite songs by them. Also, who can forget the dystopian Preservation albums from the early 70’s. Although not their best music, they were not bad. Preservation 2 has a lot of Orwellian undertones with the farce of political struggle between a fake right and left presented. A quirky concept album with subtle truths.

  3. c matt
    Posted December 16, 2019 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    There’s nothing in the street
    Looks any different to me
    And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
    And the parting on the left
    Is now the parting on the right
    And the beards have all grown longer overnight

    If this doesn’t capture our current situation, nothing does – even down to the hipster beards!

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Hi c_matt,

      A great song on a great album. I would have liked just a little more specificity when it comes nationalism or white identity in order to put it on the list. Maybe it would have gone in a top 10 list. I took liberties with “Powderfinger” due to the references to the main character’s blood relations in the face of nameless state oppression. Where “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is reactionary, “Powderfinger” is apocalyptic.

      Anyway, that was the metric I used when considering WGFA. Thanks.

  4. Beau Sauvage
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I hear you sir but when we’re reduced to hopefully appropriating Jim Croce and Neil Young the project would appear rather hopeless

    Myself I don’t usually associate Negroes with Pool Hustlery. ‘Big Jim’ sounds white Esp. when Croce throws in big & dumb and ‘hoss’ etc. but then he’s called ‘Jimmy’ and as you say comes boppin’ out of the caddy and the ebonics again-all make him very black.

    WE know Leroy Brown was brown so…i think Croce is consistent.

    Black guys were more known for cutting–esp. when it’s 100 times–but it was to a much lesser extent a white guy thing to back before civil rights emasculated white men and consigned their fate to the tender mercies of the jewish legal system. ‘Slim’ was more assoicated with black guys at the time as was ‘Willie’ ..’Willie McCoy’ sounds supremely black, And because it seems highly implausible that black & white would have been mixing in bars or pool halls in the early 70s–even in the minds of tunesmiths– I have to imagine that the most likely scenario is that both characters are black. Esp. considered the ebonics employed as with Leroy Brown, which is definitely a black guy.

    I’ll have to hold my nose to try out the Neil Young. Seems impossible that the sick liberal moron that gave us ‘Southern Man’ could ever pen anything worthy..( haha i do like a lot of Young’s stuff)

    But Ronnie VZ’s “Sweet Home” rejoinder is far closer to a rallying cry for white identity than any rock song I can think of…

    Black Messiah! Where have you been all my life..INcredible that I had skipped this Kinks. Or perhaps the culture commie-czars skipped it for me..THANK YOU for this gift!

    What bout ‘White Riot’ by the Clash?

    When I think of Clapton’s famous ‘racist’ rant. Elvis Costello’s hilarious jibe…it seems the only reason rock hasn’t given us some great white affirmative or angry race realist music is that the tribe has controlled the output–and the wider cultural narrative–since its inception. Same reason right wing or white identified comedians or artists in any format could never see the light of day..but all this obvious.

    Listening to Black Messiah for the fourth or fifth time now it affirms how important it is to have art that affirms a worldview. It is so profoundly satisfying .. you can see why with the almost hermetically sealed soma world of diaspora propaganda that liberals can be so viciously and reflexively reactionary–so cozy and complacent are they in the matrix that reinforces their worldview by the nanny-second.

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Hi Beau Savage,

      I am thrilled I was able to introduce you to Black Messiah. Discovering something new like this, especially when it had been under your nose for so long, is a wonderful experience.

      As for your interpretation of “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”, I think we should disregard the song only if someone unearths a quote from Croce himself that both characters are black. Testimony from his widow wouldn’t count. In the absence of definitive artistic intention, I see no reason why the Dissident Right can’t assume the country boy Willie McCoy is indeed white. Also, when describing Jim Walker, Croce uses ebonics. But he does not use ebonics when describing or directly quoting McCoy. In fact, McCoy’s English is perfectly fine. Anyway, that’s my take. You might be correct in your interpretation (but I hope not!)

      White Riot would have been further down the list, but the article was approaching 4K words, and so I had to make allowances.

      Sweet Home Alabama. Great song, no doubt. Maybe belongs on a top-10 list. But it’s more about Southern identity than white identity. It might have grown beyond that since the 1970s, so there’s that.

      • Beau Sauvage
        Posted December 18, 2019 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

        Thank you sir, I appreciate the improvements on my thoughts.

        Re: Croce I agree that the syntax is the most hopeful clue . But our white country boy from sweet home Alabama should be speaking in his idiom, no?

        Is it possible that Croce subconsciously imbued Willie with Crocean diction, cause he identifies w/underdog?

        Anyway the violent ambush is such a black thing, If Croce had only made it a craps game in the alley rather than a pool game, (hustling/poolhall culture being so predominantly white),

        {sidenote: wouldn’t a white person who had been ‘hustled’ tend to recognize they had been ‘had’ but had mostly themselves to blame; it would be more black to ‘slash out’ 100 times}

  5. Alex
    Posted December 15, 2019 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    While the rest of the song is suspect I’d nominate the opening lyrics of “I’d Love To Change The World” by Ten Years Affer:
    “Everywhere is freaks and hairies, dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity”

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Hadn’t even thought of that one. Thanks!

  6. Adrian Roberts
    Posted December 14, 2019 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    “Hello Goodbye”. That is your choice Beatle song? Have you heard any of their other stuff (apart from “Yellow Submarine”)?

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      “Hello Goodbye” is an exquisite pop song. But yes, I could have selected any number of classic Beatles tracks instead, my favorites being “A Day in the Life,” “Hey Jude,” and “Let it Be.” Where songs like “You Won’t See Me” or “Ob La Di Ob La Da” represent the epitome of pop. These three and “Hello Goodbye” (and maybe “Eleanor Rigby” and some others, I’m sure) actually transcend pop, IMHO.

      Sadly, none of them address the themes that would land them on this list.

    • d_malaparte
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      “Nowhere Man,” “In My Life,” “Girl,” and “Ticket to Ride”

      • d_malaparte
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        and “Day Tripper”

        • Adrian Roberts
          Posted December 16, 2019 at 1:53 am | Permalink

          Forget anything else Lennon might have said, if you go through ‘Revolution’ line by line what you find is reactionary scepticism, culminating in the dismissive “You better free your mind instead”.

          • c matt
            Posted December 16, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            Agree.

            It is practically the anti “Imagine”.

            For me, nothing says dissident right like “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Even though we will.

  7. Immigrant Song
    Posted December 13, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure Powderfinger is not a Civil War song? Did the U.S. ever use gunboats on rivers during peacetime for law enforcement? Seems unlikely. 1861-5 the Miss. basin was crawling with them, they were practically amphibious. But I imagine everything was scrapped or sold come May 1865.

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      Hi Immigrant Song,
      I probably shouldn’t have called it a “gunboat.” One reviewer of the song called it that and I carried it through into my review. Young himself does not refer to it as a gunboat. As for the Civil War idea, Young gives us no indication of that. Basically, that boat symbolizes the authority of the state–any state. Part of the genius of the song is that Young leaves out all the details that would freeze it in time, yet keeps all the details that make it so evocative.

      • Immigrant Song
        Posted December 14, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

        I never knew this song had such diverse interpretations until yesterday. Some say it’s about a Vietnam vet running drugs to Florida or Georgia or South Carolina and getting killed by the Coast Guard… Well, if Neil won’t tell us what it means, it could be about that.

        From the first time I heard Powderfinger years ago I just naturally thought it was about someone on the Tennessee or Cumberland in the Civil War. There is a great nonfiction book about the Civil War Confederate Morgan’s Raid in the Ohio Valley that has a scene so cinematic: Morgan, north of the Ohio, sent a messenger south across the river, taking advantage of drought conditions where a horseman could actually ford it. As the messenger was resting his horse on a bar in the middle of the river, a Yankee gunboat came around an upstream bend unexpectedly. Those on the boat could see the rider from a half mile or so away, too far away to fire accurately, but near enough to force an immediate decision on the messenger, to go back to Morgan or continue on to the HQ at Tennessee or wherever. From the deck they saw him look back and forth trying to decide. I can’t remember what he did, but I do remember he got away.

        • Spencer J. Quinn
          Posted December 17, 2019 at 7:06 am | Permalink

          Hi IS,
          That *is* a cinematic scene. Do you remember the book title? Wiki’s entry on Morgan’s Raid lists several.

        • Immigrant Song
          Posted December 17, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          The Morgan’s raid book I read from the library decades ago was probably Dee Brown’s Morgan’s Raiders, published in 1959.

  8. Fenek Solere
    Posted December 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Dear Spencer,
    Powderfinger is indeed a classic cut and one that certainly resonates with me. The lines you quote always send shivers running down my spine…
    Best
    FS

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 14, 2019 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Oh, my God. Yes.

  9. cecil1
    Posted December 13, 2019 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Don McLean – American Pie

    That song has always been about the historic American nation and the attack that was (and is) upon it.

    The nostalgia for it is haunting.

    That’s how I’ve always heard that song from the first time I heard it as a kid in the late 1980’s.

    McLean may have meant it to be about a plane crash, but he accidentally and unconsciously transcended that message.

    • Sandy
      Posted December 13, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      McLean may have meant it to be about a plane crash, but he accidentally and unconsciously transcended that message.

      You think! Be a devil Cecil1 and check out roytaylorministries.com It sounds like your cup of tea.

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Hi Cecil1,
      I will have to give American Pie another listen! Thanks.

  10. Merfolk
    Posted December 13, 2019 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I would rank Guns&roses One in a Million as the ultimate alt right rock song, perhaps wignat even. There is an annoying apologia line, but I think they actually meant their lyrics!

    • Spencer J. Quinn
      Posted December 17, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      Hi Merfolk,

      I had it as #5, but for space and time considerations, so I had to leave it out. But, yes, agree.

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