War/Politics Songs (2)

Clearly inspired by Phil and Mike, I’d like to offer my own list of songs… although mine is more ‘political science’ than war-themed. I should acknowledge, as other have, that my statement about whether a chorus is great or not shouldn’t be taken as a statement that I endorse a particular interpretation of the politics of that song.

1) Be Prepared – Scar (The Lion King)

I have yet to find a better example of the commitment problem. Scar expertly bargains with the hyenas through verses 1 & 2, vividly describing the reversion point and simultaneously promising to stick to his platform of “you’ll never go hungry again”. But as the film makes tragically clear, unless there’s some sort of pre-nuptial agreement between politicians and their supporters, or a recall mechanism, then the political elite class can defect from any contract. I know this film has been compared to Hamlet, but I frankly find that a little insulting. The Lion King is so far beyond that. Plus who hasn’t wanted to be “King undisputed, respected, saluted, and seen for the wonder I am”?


2) Only 19 – The Herd

The original is by Redgum, but their cover is perhaps the finest anti-war song I’ve ever heard, and I really enjoyed doing a cover of this. It’s about a Vietnam veteran, and the final chorus is the one that gets me I think, with the image of the narrator being unable to stomach the sound of traffic-report helicopters even in his old age. This live version is really good.


3) Men of Harlech – Traditional

As I continue to write my dissertation, with nary a break, I have become a connoisseur of the various ‘top 5 inspirational moments eva’-type videos on youtube. I quite liked the film ‘Zulu’ before I grew up, and this song still is relatively interesting if you can separate it out a bit. It’s basically ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ for the military.


4) Roxy – Jeffrey Lewis

Another cover that I prefer to the original, this song builds to a pretty good final chorus I reckon, and is unapologetically and straightforwardly propagandist. I mean there’s no debating what the point of this one is, and that’s nice in itself.


5) The Lesson Of The Smiths – MJ Hibbett and the Validators

Really straightforward and narrative and really pulls that off, which is tough. Funny and engaging and thorough.


Honourable Mention1) I Saw Her In The Anti-War Demonstration – Jens Lekman


Honourable Mention2) It’s Like That – Run DMC


If I think of any more… haha.

About Ben Farrer

Ben is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at Knox College. He received his PhD in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2014. Ben was previously a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and previously held a research position in the Department of Political Science at Fordham University. His research and teaching interests are centered around parties and interest groups, particularly those from under-represented constituencies. A great deal of his work deals with the political organizations of the environmental movement. He studies both American and Comparative politics.

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