What albums to listen to as the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election gets closer

Columnist Jermaine Mohan at the RMG in 2019. Photo credit: Allaya Sue

With the 2020 U.S. presidential elections just right around the corner, and the ongoing pandemic crippling the live music concert business, many forms of entertainment have become limited.

Now is a perfect time to dive into some albums, especially three of them, that remind citizens of what the neighbours to the south are currently facing.

And yes, Canadians do have their own problem with COVID-19, but we haven’t faced political and social turmoil like the U.S. Just recently, however, the Trudeau government survived a vote of confidence at Parliament Hill.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama offered his words at a drive-in rally for the Joe Biden presidential campaign in Philadelphia, told CNN, “I never thought Donald Trump would embrace my vision or continue my polices, but I did hope for the sake of the country, that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But it hasn’t happened.”

Another thing that hasn’t happened over the past four years is the presidential playlist. Obama created them in Spotify and regularly told reporters what he was listening to. Thanks Obama.

And to that musical spirit, here are three must-listen-to albums for Nov 3.

The Clash by The Clash

When punk icons Sex Pistols came on the scene in Britain, The Clash soon followed. But instead of trying to create anarchy, The Clash brought forward a state of capitalism at the time and showed an outsider’s view on the 1970s United States.

Put together by bassist Mick Jones and accompanied by Joe Strummer, stand out tracks like “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A,” and “Janie Jones” showed the range of punk in ’70s England. Reggae influences litter the album, and cover reggae artist Junior Murvin’s 1976 track “Police and Thieves.”

The best song to listen to at this time is “I’m So Bored With the U.S.A,” which can be summed up as the current international state of mind.

Rage Against the Machine by Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine’s debut album set the anti-government mentality of the ’90s and early 2000s and transformed as a voice against U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration. But before Bush, there was President Bill Clinton and the war in Kosovo.

With anti-establishment anthems like “Killing In The Name Of,” which is rife with political lyrics, be prepared to march to government buildings, and demand change after listening.

The album cover is also the protest and self-immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, who was against the president of Vietnam’s treatment of Buddhist monks.

It’s also quite fitting that the track “Wake Up” was used in the 1999 sci-fi film The Matrix.

What’s Going On? by Marvin Gaye

No matter what, always save the best for last. Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? brings the same stories of social injustice and unrest The Clash sang about but also speaks out against the continuation of the Vietnam War.

“War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate,” pleads Gaye.

Gaye’s poetry on songs like “What’s Going On,” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” give people hope but questions the world’s intentions, even climate change is addressed in the album from 1971.

But as woke as the album can be, the last song, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” reminds the listener things will continue no matter how much change happens. Still Gaye gives hope, like his counterpart crooner, Sam Cooke, famously sang “change is gonna come.”

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