October 31, 2012

Mixtape Wars

Election 2012: Vodicka vs. Aued

Blake Aued and Gabe Vodicka contemplate the size of their respective flags.

It's election season. We know this because we are told it, every hour of every day, by the unflappably crazy cable "news" media and by an endless barrage of increasingly mean-spirited campaign ads (though, of course, not as many here in Georgia, a blue red state whose fate is sealed even before the first vote is cast).

We also know this on a local level, thanks to steady streams of misinformative mailers and the sad sight of kids paid to stand on street corners waving signs; because of vindictive he-said-she-saids heard on the radio and reported in the local press.

Considering it all, there seemed no better way to endure the last leg of the tug-and-pull—the pressure, the polling and the pigheaded punditry of the whole interminable process—than with a little bit of music therapy. But rather than look to the outside community for this edition of Mixtape Wars, we decided to stay in-house. We are the media, after all, and frankly, we're mad as hell.

And so, veering dangerously close to the end of their respective ropes, Flagpole's Music Editor Gabe Vodicka and City Editor Blake Aued got together and forgot their Fox News woes over a couple sets of songs.

Gabe Vodicka's Mixtape

1. "Military Madness" by Graham Nash

Why Gabe Vodicka picked this track: A classic antiwar ditty about loving your country despite its flaws and embracing your place in it while also being, like, ashamed of it, sometimes. Yeah, I said it. Wanna fight about it?

Blake Aued's reaction: Earnest little SOB. Wait, isn't he singing about World War II? I hope he's not anti-kicking the crap out of Hitler.

2. "Down to the Wire" by Neil Young

GV: This is such a weird song for Neil, musically speaking. It's about being in love with someone who's not the person you thought he was, but you can't quit him, you know? Kind of like a certain commander-in-chief. He hits me because he cares.

BA: I almost went with "Ohio," but this is more relevant. The election sure is coming "down to the wire." Ha ha.

3. "Why Is It So Hard?" by Charles Bradley

GV: The first time I heard this song, I almost started crying. God damn it, it is hard to make it in America (and getting harder, it seems). It's such an obviously personal song; you can hear the desperation in Bradley's wail.

BA: I hope Crosby and Stills don't feel left out. Bradley sounds like a liberal James Brown (who would tell him to quit whining, by the way).

4. "Where Gravity Is Dead" by Laura Veirs

GV: On the surface this song is totally not political at all. It's all about being detached and just kind of floating around above everything like a ghost. I imagine being president is pretty lonely, sometimes.

BA: Are you suggesting that Obama fly himself into the sun on a raft made for one?

5. "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon

GV: If only geopolitical crises were always this funny. Plus, imagine Mitt Romney listening to this song, or rock and roll, in general. Hilarious. It just doesn't fit.

BA: Good call. The shit has indeed hit the fan.

6. "Natural Disasters" by Propagandhi

GV: One of those rare bands I listened to in high school that I'm unashamed to say I still dig. They're obnoxiously left-wing—Canadian anarchists, total "South Park" fodder—but they've put out some seriously great, fist-pumping stuff. I love the line, "Everyone's hands cause natural disasters." Plus, they talk about dildoes in this song, which is weird.

BA: Yeah, I had my Dead Kennedys/Propagandhi/Rage Against the Machine phase in high school, too. I'm not proud of it. But you're right, it does rock.

7. "Chimeras" by Tim Hecker

GV: Hecker is one of my absolute favorite modern composers. So visceral. This tune could have soundtracked any dramatic political moment throughout history.

BA: An aide walks in slow motion into the Oval Office and hands the president a piece of paper. He reads it, then lets it flutter to the ground. The camera cuts to his stricken face, having just learned that a North Korean missile wiped out San Francisco...

8. "Reagan" by Killer Mike

GV: This fucking album, man. He didn't tell me to, but Killer Mike might be the reason I'm considering casting a ballot for Jill Stein next week. Maybe. I guess that makes me an undecided voter?

BA: Go for it. It's not like Obama's going to win Georgia, anyway.

9. "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan

GV: This song makes me furious, which I guess was its intention. The most incisive song Dylan ever wrote, and that's saying something.

BA: OK, now I'm really starting to feel like I'm hanging out with my aging-hippie dad. Seriously, though, they don't make protest songs like this anymore.

10. "Evolution" by Cat Power

GV: There's a vague sort of apocalyptic feel to this song—which features one Eddie Vedder on surprisingly subdued backing vocals (it's like "Even Flow" never even happened!)—and the title makes me think of Paul Broun. Do you think he's a Cat Power fan, at least?

BA: Pat Boone makes robocalls for him. So, no, probably not.

Blake Aued's Mixtape

1. "Eisenhower Blues" by J.B. Lenoir

Why Blake Aued picked this track: This dude was like the Herman Cain of 1952, complaining he's broke because Ike's taxes are too high. For the record, millionaires paid 90 percent back then.

Gabe Vodicka's response: 9-9-9! Now I'm imagining Herman Cain singing the blues. Also, this song is both topical and incredibly dated.

2. "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" by Bob Dylan

BA: Had to throw some Dylan on here, of course. I'm more of an electric guy, but this is my favorite song from his protest phase. It tells a really affecting story—not just a bunch of platitudes like "Blowin' in the Wind," for example. Check out the Mason Jennings cover from the I'm Not There soundtrack.

GV: "William Zantzinger" is one of those names Bob Dylan couldn't not include in a song. And yeah, proof that the man could actually tell a solid tale. See also: "Hurricane," "Sara"—anything on Desire, really.

3. "Oliver's Army" by Elvis Costello

BA: The best song about imperialism ever.

GV: Remember when white-dude singers could get away with saying the N-word? That was a weird time. (Um. See also: "Hurricane.")

4. "By the Time I Get to Arizona" by Public Enemy

BA: It's about Arizona voting down MLK Day, but it could just as easily apply to the "show me your papers" immigration law. And the S1W are tea partiers' worst nightmare. When they look at President Obama, they see a Black Panther-looking dude in fatigues and a beret.

GV: People were so racist in the '80s, weren't they? I'm glad we've moved past all that as a country.

5. "Eric B Is President" by Eric B & Rakim

BA: Now here's a ticket we can all get behind.

GV: I'll say.

6. "Slippery People" by Talking Heads

BA: Self-explanatory.

GV: The lyrics "You'd best believe/ This thing is real" remind me of that Shellac song where Albini is all "GODDAMN THIS IS REAL." I'd like to hear a David Byrne/Steve Albini collab. No, I wouldn't.

7. "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go" by Curtis Mayfield

BA: Nihilism never sounded so funky.

GV: "Niggas, whiteys, Jews and crackers!" Hell yeah! We're all doomed! Let's get in a little bit of chicka-chick guitar before we descend to be forever burned in the eternal flaming pit. I can dig it.

8. "Spanish Bombs" by The Clash

BA: Do you think when Obama listens to this, he wonders why they didn't just send a drone to take out Franco? Also, Mitt Romney wants MOAR BAYONETS!

GV: Ha! Mitt doesn't know anything about modern warfare. You don't even have to be anywhere near the enemy to kill 'em dead. Catch a clue, Mittens.

9. "When I'm 64" by The Beatles

BA: When I'm 64, I won't have Social Security or Medicare. Thanks, Paul Ryan!

GV: Yeah, but you'll be independently wealthy from your decades of smart investments. Free market, Aued. Learn it. Live it.

10. "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac

BA: This was President Clinton's campaign theme song. Man, I miss ol' Slick Willie. Come back, Bill! You can have all the blowjobs you want!

GV: Hold on a second, cowboy. You can blow him if you want, but I'll have no part of it. Also, this is may be my least favorite Fleetwood Mac song. What a disappointing way to end this. Can we listen to Curtis Mayfield again?