Basslines and Protest Signs Part 67: New Beginnings

By | February 3, 2021 at 1:30 PM
Lady Gaga (photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Despite the promises/threats of a wild time from QAnon and various other conspiracy theorists, nutballs and, honestly, run of the mill republicans, the January 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris passed without much in the way of drama. We can’t let our guard down — the crazies are still out there, festering in moist corners of the dark web and spreading their inaccurate nonsense to anyone who will listen. (For example, did you know that the United States is a corporation not a republic, and therefore everything that has happened over the past couple of hundred of years doesn’t count? Get that nugget and more from your friendly neighborhood fuckwit.)

So anyway, the inauguration took place and, despite the necessary lack of crowds, it was a celebratory and inspired event. Let’s talk about the music and the statements that were made by artists simply by appearing. Nobody was surprised that, for the actual swearing in part of the ceremony in the morning, Lady Gaga excelled while singing the National Anthem in a dress which (as many have pointed out) recalled The Hunger Games. Rather than make a lame attempt to update the anthem, Gaga went full regal, even adding a hint of an English accent to her pronunciation. Gaga has been a vocal supporter of Biden throughout the campaign, so the choice of her for the anthem was something of a no-brainer. 

Jennifer Lopez too is a known progressive and her medley of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” (also performed at Obama’s inauguration by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger), “America the Beautiful” and her own “Let’s Get Loud” hit the spot.

It would be negligent of us not to mention poet Amanda Gorman after her performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” While not strictly “music” her rendition of the powerful piece of work was incredibly musical, practically hypnotic in delivery. At the time of writing, news has emerged that Gorman will be performing at the Super Bowl, potentially for an entirely different audience. No doubt, she’ll be enthralling again and maybe make a few people think in-between mouthfuls of beer and wings.

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 14: Garth Brooks arrives for the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 
14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

But the performer who raised the most eyebrows, caused the biggest stir, was country titan Garth Brooks. Brooks has long been a supporter of LGBTQ rights, though he refers to himself a republican. Still, he performed at Obama’s inauguration, and refused to perform at Trump’s. So clearly, he has some issues with the direction that his team has been heading in of late. 

Naturally, Brooks took some heat from GOP voters for his decision to sing “Amazing Grace” at Biden’s event. After Brooks tweeted a compliment at Gaga for her performance, the reaction from fans was mixed. A user with the handle Madness Exists Here tweeted: “Hell to the naw. Have been with you from the start. Friends in low places was our song as kids. You lost me here Garth. I never left you when you cheated on Diane even, but you lost me here. Not that you performed today. But the sheer hypocrisy in where you stand.”

Still, the vast majority of comments were positive, with somebody called Ria saying: “Thank you for today. Possibly the most significant thing you have ever done. To put your country above your comfort.  Your music has meant more to me then [sic] I could explain and today you confirmed my respect and love are well placed!”

The deluge of warm wishes offer some real hope at a time when we have little to cling to. The country remains divided like never before in modern history. President Biden’s calls for unity are falling on deaf ears, because the hatred between the two parties is so intense. And not just from the voters. Take a look at republican members of congress such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz — really despicable souls who continue to push lies about mass voter fraud, seem determined to take guns onto the floor despite the January 6 insurrection, and lick Trump’s boots. Greene claims that school shootings didn’t happen, and harraseses survivors. Along with wretched senator Josh Hawley, the fool who offered a raised fist to the insurrectionists on Jan. 6, these are the youthful, fresh faces of the far right. The people picking up Trump’s shit-stained baton and carrying it with clenched fists into the future. Trumpism isn’t going anywhere.

Side note: Literally as this column was coming together, Greene was “good enough” to admit that the Parkland school shooting actually happened. Isn’t it weird that that’s news?

So “unity” is a far-fetched notion at present. It makes sense that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declined an invitation from senator Ted Cruz to work together on laws aimed at Wall Street (following the Game Stop debacle), telling him that he nearly had her murdered. That’s a stone cold fact, and the outcry from republicans is disingenuous. Cruz and Hawley prolonged the certification of the election as they pushed the Big Lie (an appropriate term), leading to the treacherous mob storming the capitol. How could she possibly work with him?

Therefore, a self-confessed republican like Brooks, with a huge country following that traditionally will sit firmly on the right, performing for Biden was a big statement. He offered a glimmer of positivity. One day, when accountability has been secured, maybe an element of unity is possible.

Finally, let’s celebrate the fact that Biden was able to get the New Radicals to re-form, and also that former Germs guitarist Pat Smear now has an inauguration on his resume after performing with the Foo Fighters. And if you’re going to end an event with fireworks, why not be totally on-the-nose and have Katy Perry perform “Firework”? 

It’s nice to feel a little bit fuzzy at times like this, but hold onto the anger of the past four years. We’re gonna need it.