Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post are entirely my own view. They do not reflect those of Hendrix College or KHDX.
This November, we experienced something that, frankly, didn’t seem possible. The electoral college system decided that Donald Trump is going to be the 45th president of the United States of America. At the time of writing this, the popular vote is indicating nearly a two and half million advantage for
Madame President Hillary Clinton :,(. But, that is not what I’m going to talk about. Instead, I’m going to talk about how I have used music during this tough time, and how others can and should as well. For each blurb I write, I will include a song that fits in thematically or emotionally.
1. “Terrible Love” – The National
When I woke up the morning after the election, I really hoped it had all been a terrible dream. Getting on social media reminded me that it wasn’t, that the nightmare was reality. There were so many emotions rushing through me. I felt anger, sadness, fear, betrayal, and so much more. I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry that morning. One of the first thoughts my mind jumped to was my little brother, Santiago. He is 6 years old, and he will now have to grow up for the next four years with Donald Trump as the president. That broke my heart to think about. I thought it was probably safe to assume many people were going through similar feelings. During the forum held in Worsham, emotions were running so high, and I was so taken by everyone who was willing to share their feelings. Hearing people give their personal stories was so incredibly powerful, especially the one girl who spoke about her experience with an abortion. My blood boiled when someone then had the nerve to call abortion murder and explain why it shouldn’t be legal. Fortunately, the majority of people in there stood by her, and seeing everyone (except for the one group of Trump supporters) stand together in solidarity was truly inspiring. I chose “Terrible Love” as it has been my cry song for years now. Anytime I needed a good cry, I could just pop in my headphones, scroll down to The National, and press play and I would be set. And sometimes, you just need to cry. It is good to get it out.
2. “Head On” – The National
After enjoying some delicious gyros in the Caf (I love Hendrix and everything they do for us), my girlfriend, Hannah, had a great idea. Both of us were still feeling down, and we knew we needed something to cheer us up. She said that we should try to do something to make everyone who was feeling vulnerable and marginalized that they are loved and welcome. So, we figured we could get some friends, get some chalk, and write messages of unity all over the brick pit. After getting approval from the Dean, we gathered a group of our friends (and some strangers who we were so glad came too!), and wrote messages all over the brick pit. It felt great, and I really hope anyone who was able to see the messages could have felt some sort of “togetherness”. I picked “Head On” as I think it really fits well into this idea of not giving up. The subtitle of the song is “Hold on to Your Heart”, a message that many people probably needed to hear. In a time when there is so much pain and confusion, taking care of yourself is crucial. As the song says, “Hold on to your heart, even when the whole world’s bitter. Hold on to your heart, never let nobody take it over, ever take it over from you.”
3. “Muddy Waters” – LP
After hearing this song in the last scene of the season 3 finale of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, I have never been able to associate it with anything other than protests and riots. Coming from Austin, I would have loved to been a part of the protest downtown. Seeing snapchats from my friends back home was incredible, there were easily hundreds of people in the streets. I was glad to see it all over the country, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, etc. I read a comment on Facebook from someone who was clearly not negatively affected by the election results that “Now isn’t the time to protest, we need to come together.” Well, to that person, I would like to firmly disagree. It was the time to protest, peacefully. While on a smaller scale, I really did enjoy the Hendrix protest. It was great to see how many students were willing to put themselves out there. I’ll admit, I was a bit scared to be out in Conway with this protest. If there weren’t so many of us, I think it would have been much more intimidating.
4. “Black Skinhead” (explicit) – Kanye West
Of course, history has always shown that rioting will happen. Compared to a peaceful protest, it is by far the easier action to take. To just express your anger out in the streets, with hundreds (or thousands) of other people, must be extremely cathartic. However, just because it is easy, does not mean it is right. I picked “Black Skinhead” because of how angry and raw it is. While I may not like West as a person, I do appreciate how much emotion he can express in this track. You can feel the pent up aggression and years of racial tension behind the song. The Black Lives Matter movement is, frankly, something that should not have to exist. The year 2016 should not be a time in where it is a “debate” whether African-Americans should have equal treatment or not. I read a few days ago that while they only make up 2% of the country’s population, black males 18-34 make up 15% of those killed by police shootings. These figures are ridiculous. When you look at it that way, it is easy to see where the anger is coming from. While I will not condone violence, there are times where I can see how it happens. What is important though, is to be able to channel this anger into something productive.
5. “American Idiot” (explicit) – Green Day
I remember when this came out. I was in first grade, so it was a bit too much for me, but by third grade I was definitely listening to this album nearly every day. I absolutely loved it. Growing up, all I really knew about the Bush presidency was that we were in an unjust war in Iraq. That is all I ever heard about, and now, over a decade later, basically the only new bit of information I have is that the trickle-down economics of the time helped cause the Great Recession. Anyways, I think this song is important because it gives the perspective of the anti-fascist movement you often see with punk music. Although that has never really been me, I can appreciate it, and am glad that there is such a strong and outspoken group on the left.
6. “Open Your Eyes” – STRFKR
My current favorite song, see my review of STRFKR’s latest album if you want more of my thoughts on it. I’m including this as the last song on here because of how uplifting the music is. No matter how difficult times are, there is always the future. I do believe that one day we will be able to make this country, this world a place for everyone. While it would be unfair to say that everyone who voted for Trump is a sexist, racist, xenophobic bigot, there are far too many. Too many people are just completely and utterly ignorant, and it is that ignorance that hurts minorities. Lies that are spread about the hardships experienced by women, African-Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ+ community members, the disabled, Hispanics, or anyone else can create so much pain. With “Open Your Eyes”, the chorus is catchy enough to allow you to forget about the issues for even a minute. Sometimes its ok to blank out, and just experience the music. But what is most important is that once you’re done with that, is that you turn around and do something. Make change happen. It is in our hands now.