Simple messages, authentic instruments, genuine emotion… Sounds like the Ramones, right? When that group, and the Clash, and the Pistols, and the Damned stormed the world’s stages in the late seventies, they did so by giving audiences an experience that was raw, intense, and heartfelt. It seemed more real than whatever that thing was we were listening to yesterday. The aesthetic of what was acceptable changed immediately, and the engagement felt by listeners caused them to come out of their apathetic funk, wear words on their clothes, and follow a new sound into the relative unknown.
Now we have a political campaign that is banging out the same chords, with dual front men making it hard to remember what elections were like before this new branding of unvarnished personality became vogue. The sound of it carries an urgency and a sense of change, but it is not new. Lincoln’s folksy ways of communicating are said to have sounded like he’d “left the bark on” and plenty of people loved him for it. Countless politicians, even Reagan, have campaigned by promoting simplicity. What seems different now is that the leaders, from opposite parties and sometimes (but, importantly, not always) opposite policy stances, are meeting at the same time in this late-seventies new music aesthetic. It’s as if the world’s most acclaimed classical composer and the world’s most endearing folk singer decided, simultaneously but unknown to each other and on separate labels, to both record albums entitled Damn the Lovely History, Let’s Light the Pub Afire!