If anyone has read the attacks below, posted on Progarchy, that are assaulting the latest from both Roine Stolt and The Tangent, I just want to encourage people to ignore the ranting and raving, and to actually go and listen to the music and lyrics instead.
Stolt releases a song called “Lost America” and suddenly some heads explode at Prograchy. Hey guys, calm down. How about you actually listen to the song? Is it too much to thoughtfully digest what an artist offers, before pronouncing premature rash judgment?
The music to “Lost America” is itself not too bad. Musically, there is nothing offensive. I admit the track doesn’t do much for me, because musically it has nothing too innovative or elaborate to get me excited. But, the guitars are great, and it’s still pleasantly enjoyable to listen to, nonetheless.
And the lyrics? You guys obviously didn’t form your opinions based on anything other than a (wrong) interpretation of two words — “Lost America” — which then set you off doing free association with a bunch of complaints you have about bad politics ruining some other music.
I embed the lyric video below so you can actually review the song and its lyrics. Surprise: You’ll find the lyrics are positive. At least, they are ambiguous enough that you can still wave an American flag to them, if you wish. Most notably, and most ironically (given the rapid “straw man” attacks launched on the song), the lyrics speak repeatedly about taking the “high way” and taking the “high road.”
Moreover, you’ll be surprised to find nothing political at all in the song “Lost America.” So, what does the title mean? Well, you’ll find the song repeatedly sings, affirmatively, “you — you’re the heart of America,” which I take to be a positive affirmation of small town, heartland virtues (since that’s what the video images suggest).
It would seem to be more accurate to interpret “Lost America” as what can be rediscovered if you take a wrong turn and get lost in America. You’ll soon find yourself driving down a remote country highway, possibly rediscovering simple virtues, that are currently lost in public life, but are waiting to be found out in the heartland. (Any absence of humans in the images, well, I take that to symbolize the possible “rediscovery” of virtue as being still an open question.)
In other words, if I were the artist reading this blog, I would find the complaints about political propaganda allegedly being pushed by my music to be completely ridiculous. I would think: these writers didn’t even bother to listen before writing their “reviews.”
So, the hasty attack on “Lost America” is an attack on a straw man. As for The Tangent, if you haven’t gotten past the first song on Proxy because for some reason you think it’s unjustifiably political, well, that’s too bad, because I think Proxy is in the running for the best prog album this year. It’s completely forking awesome, my dudes.
You’ll be surprised to discover that the Proxy album takes the listener on an interesting journey that merely begins with an apparently “political” first track. I’ll explain more in my forthcoming review about the brilliance of this album. But the album cleverly takes an unexpected turn, because The Tangent quickly proceeds to self-consciously take “political protests in music” as a theme, and then subjects that theme and its youthful idealism to a relentlessly self-scrutinizing critique. It’s a brilliant development, and it remains nothing but just to its subject matter.
Similar to the case of Stolt, I find there’s nothing objectionable or offensive or propagandistic or simple-minded in the first song “Proxy” on The Tangent’s new album. The main point of the song is that it is wrong to cynically profit from war and the arms trade. When did it suddenly become beyond the purview of rock and roll to say such a thing? But besides that, what’s genius about the album is the way it then goes on to explore self-doubt about why even write such songs.
But more about that later. For now, my dissenting editorial concludes with a request: how about you guys stop ranting about politics, and simply write about the music instead?
(Indeed, that’s my way of saying: C’mon, man! I agree, let’s all take a social media chill out, and listen to good music instead. And Proxy is some really fine music.)