[WARNING: Every so often, a CD comes along that provides a rostum in which to interpolate my own polemics, especially when I've covered the musician in the past and can afford to let those critiques stand as to musical virtues while I pursue other matters. This is one of those times, and Punishing the Myth is one of those CDs. My appy-polly-loggies to Peeples in advance, but, hey!, we critics take our moments when we can, too.]
You can't, the saying goes, keep a good bastard down, and Grant Peeples is certainly ample proof of that. Myself, I've reviewed "Left" rebel musicians David Rovics and Jefferson Parson, both of whom aren't particularly nuts about me, my critiques, my Godwin-inspired meta-anarchistic ways, or my fights with the so-called "Left" in this country (Mike Malloy, Thom Hartmann, Brad Friedman, Randi Rhodes, etc., all of whom are actually, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out regarding Democrats, moderate Republicans).
Rovics and Parson may or may not be correct in their disdain, but, in light of their side of the fence's accommodationist candy-assed antics and propaganda, I'm not terribly inclined to credit their stance. Servants of bourgeois mercantiles, the media "liberals" they trail behind, the kleiglight svengalis haven't a clue the term historically denotes bizarre Chicago and Austrian Schools of ersatz Randian economics and reactionary monetary/market indiscretions. In that and in far too many other things, radio nabobs can jawjack the chrome off a trailer hitch and still emit absolutely nothing of worth, they and their artists. Peeples, on the other hand, as a voice against the ongoing capitalo-globalist conflagration, doesn't mess around, and You're a Slave to your Imagination, the very first cut on his new CD, Punishing the Myth, proves my point:
You call it art but you're just jerking off
My three previous critiques of his work are here, here, and here. Read 'em if you will, for music analyses, 'cause, this time around, as noted above, he's got me a bit worked up politically, and I'm taking the opportunity to pen, as you're already seeing, a personal parallel history lesson, adventures in resisting the same Leviathan he harpoons.
That trio of CDs chronicles Peeples' inexhaustible iron-willed campaign against the cancers eating away at Planet Earth via its baboon tribes, but this one cuts the bone to the marrow, and there's an undercurrent matching what some of us are past the boiling point on: it's well past time we-the-people stopped being prey to the radio and TV disciples of Edward Bernays, WELL past time. Hartmann, for instance, gained his riches through Bernaysian adman tactics and the hideous Sugar: The Essential Nutrient pamphlet printed in the hundreds of millions of copies for…schoolchildren. Not too predatory, hm? Beachhead secured, he then went on to service the extraordinarily corrupt Democratic Party and still does. Daily. Wotta "hero"!
Of Hartmann and ilk, legendary comedian Bill Hicks had cogent advice: he advised the entire ad industry to commit suicide and do the planet an unimaginable favor. Peeples is in solidarity with characters like Hicks, and I doubt the corporate NuLeft (the deceased Air America; its now severely co-opted sister, the Pacifica corporation; etc.) is much going to take to his take-no-prisoners attitude. That alone should raise eyebrows and interest levels. As he avers, you can fight and you can do so with fierce determination, but there's a price.
When I wrote for a year or so at the "Left" site OpEdNews.com with its Bircher-turned-"Leftie" publisher Rob Kall (Hartmann, a personal long-time buddy of Kall's, is also an ex-Bircher), I brought in thousands of readers for my arts and, a bit later, political columns but was soon 86ed for being "too Left", my entire backlog, all 116 articles, erased in vengeance for questioning certain aspects of "Lefties" like Amy 'Iron Fist' Goodman, Righties like Michael 'LAPD CIA Asset' Ruppert, and others whom OEN's publisher fiercely desired as advantagistic allies, potential adjunct money pumps of one sort or another. That has forever been his and his confreres' only brand of "Leftism".
I doubt, though, Peeples would've stepped foot into that environment for a millisecond. I just didn't quite know better at the time—I'd never published a political article before my OEN days—being in transition from zenarchist to anarchist to, now, meta-anarchist, a political consciousness peopled by exactly 1. What Peeples writes about, you see, is all too real but far too little analyzed in the hermetic corporate trap-web known as 'media'. You, dear reader, won't know that, however, until you also participate, get your feet wet, or better: hold your nose and dive into the deep end. That's precisely what Grant advocates in She was a Wildflower:
She wasn't afraid to face the sun
The Punishing CD isn't just a matter of very good protest folk-rock, it's infinitely more than the take-the-stage, please-the-Establishment, toe-the-Party-line, get-the-cash "rebellion" Rovics and Parson indulge. Should you want to see clearly how such a modus goes, read my review of Rovics (here), a critique rendered eight years ago (Jesus, have I been writing under FAME for that long?; where the hell did the time go?), which I still hold with but which today, due to my ongoing radicalization, would carry significant ancillary facts appended, data I sincerely doubt Rovics would much cotton to.
The same goes with Parson. I reviewed his work positively (here), and the guy went so far as to quote me directly from an OpEdNews review onto the reverse liner of that FAME-carried second release…but, well, after a number of radio luminaries got to him, whispering of my "betrayals" of the Democrats, a Party I've never been in the least bit a member of, he went into hiding, terrified he'd be seen as consorting with "the enemy". Sigh! Even the field of music criticism is prey, if you travel beyond the average crit-oaf level, to innumerable political machinations. Part of the point of Peeples' work is just that.
He's in tradition with the act-up artistry of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, the aforementioned Hicks, George Carlin, and too few others. Those of us who resist, you see, are few and far between, as the consequences are a bit daunting. Yet every song on this disc only refortifies the gritted teeth and bucked-up backbone one must possess to battle endless madness. To any who balk, I ask "What's the alternative?". The question's not designed to glibly invoke what Barbara Ehrenreich has cogently termed the 'bright-siding' we hear on the "Left" but instead to force realism into the political mythology machine we bounce about so blindly within. Politics and myth are just two aspects of religion, and religion is nothing more than business with a science-fiction heart. After all, what's the Holy Bible if not one of the West's most immortal sci-fi tracts? If you answered: "Well, it's also just a governance device", then welcome, brother, there's a place at the table for you!
Eliza Gilkyson sits in for a track in Punishing, and Grant stabled a roster of impressive players, including the highly versatile producer/multi-musician Gurf Morlix (his real name - how cool is that?!?!), but he also drew up a 24-page booklet with every word of his lyrics plus a couple of very interesting quotes from Pema Chodron and Joseph Campbell. It's great provocateurism and will leave you with more than a few afterthoughts. I'm not a Pema Chodron kinda cat, I'm an Ikkyu monkey, but all teachers have something to say, and Chodron, Campbell, and Peeples make quite a trio, each unafraid to ask the questions no one else will. They also provide the kinds of observations that can make even the most dedicated quail. If you're up for that, you're up for them………and I say you're up for that. If not, start running and hope that shadow just over the horizon never reaches out and touches you. Don't ever say you weren't warned.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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