Monday, April 15, 2024

REVIEW: Leftist Lucinda Williams Offers the Perfect Soundtrack for MAGA Rage

'Because of all this crap that’s going on, it’s on the top of everybody’s minds—it’s all anybody talks about: Basically the world’s falling apart—it’s like the apocalypse...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) The double-standards of leftist hypocrites have become so ubiquitous in the Brandon era that oftentimes it’s hardly worth commenting on them.

One is hard pressed, in fact, to find a story in the news cycle that does not involve Democrats waging attacks against their political rivals that would have resulted, only a few short years ago, in shrieks of righteous indignation when the roles were reversed.

But sometimes the irony is just too rich to ignore.

Lucinda Williams—a triple-Grammy-winning alt-country artist who first burst onto the national scene in the 1990s, with A-listers like Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Mary Chapin Carpenter famously covering from her songbook—follows a long line of social-justice warriors turned singer–songwriters in the tradition of Woody Guthrie.

In fact, Williams’s father, the late Miller Williams, was invited to read a poem at then-President Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1997.

In concerts, Williams has vocally expressed her disdain for the Trump administration—for instance, repurposing songs like “Concrete and Barbed Wire” (off her breakthrough 1998 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road) to serve as attacks on the planned border wall.

Despite having found her success as a rootsy artist drawing on genres like folk, country and even zydeco music, Williams, 69, has, in her autumn years, veered toward a harder edge of angry guitar anthems with an almost punk-rock sensibility on her latest release, 2020’s Good Souls Better Angels.

“It’s different from my other albums in that there aren’t the story songs about my childhood and all,” she wrote of the shift in tone. “It feels exciting.”

The muse for her most recent album clearly appears to have been none other than then-President Donald Trump himself, masked under a thin veneer of biblical imagery.

“The devil comes into play quite a bit on this album,” Williams said in an online description via her website, which calls it “the most topical album of Williams’ career.”

The album was released on April 24, 2020. However, due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19, Williams now finds herself promoting it under circumstances that, while marking a full political reversal, seem no less apt to many critics of President Joe Biden.

“Because of all this crap that’s going on, it’s on the top of everybody’s minds—it’s all anybody talks about: Basically the world’s falling apart—it’s like the apocalypse,” Williams said on her website.

Although she never name-checks political figures like Trump specifically, the album includes songs lashing out against the media (“Bad News Blues”), and seeming to chafe under the dictatorial weight of what the singer deems an illegitimate source of authority (“You Can’t Rule Me” and “Bone of Contention”).

In the opening track, “You Can’t Rule Me,” she snarls:

You wanna go and tell me what’s good for me
You wanna tell me what I’m payin’ for
Well, the game is fixed, it’s plain to see
I ain’t playin’ no more

And in “Wakin’ Up,” she seems to channel all of those newly wise to the wickeness of the world:

I’m waking up from a bad dream
It shook me up, it was a bad scene
But I’m waking up, it shook me up
But I’m waking up, it f**ked me up

The song “Big Rotator” addresses systems of injustice that echo the current tyranny under Attorney General Merrick Garland:

Liars are venerated
Losers, congratulated
Cheaters, celebrated
Please compensate it
Vultures satiated
Murders, exonerated
Guilty, vindicated
Innocent, incarcerated

And “Shadows & Doubts” may resonate with the “blue” leadership of our federal government:

These are the dark, blue days
That much is true
And there’s so many ways
To crush you

Not all of the songs seem political, of course. On its surface, “Shadows & Doubts,” like many of the songs on the album, delves into the clash with one’s inner demons, such as depression.

It might easily be about the artist’s struggles with addiction and the shocking loss of contemporaries like Petty, who succumbed to a drug overdose in 2018.

You run into dead ends
When you don’t even try
You cut off your friends
When you get too high
And now the press
Has found you out

“Big Black Train,” meanwhile, seems even more rife with sexual innuendo than the biting breakup song “Come On,” which earned Williams a Grammy nod for Best Rock Song in 2008.

Many of the tracks on Good Souls Better Angels also seem to contain an undercurrent of hope, perseverance and triump in the end.

But where the songs do get political, there is something satisfying about the fact that they can apply equally, regardless of one’s ideological persuasion—whether or not Williams intended that to be the case.

In a world where MAGA’s brand of “white male rage” has become a go-to scapegoat—the Squealer to Biden’s Napoleon—Williams’s work is living proof that this is but a mirror reflection of the shameless display of grievances that the Left has, quite literally, turned into an artform.

Only one track on the album, “Man Without a Soul,” may be difficult for conservatives to relate to—and it happens to be the most overtly political one, according to Rolling Stone.

“A droning, guitar-driven track, the song doesn’t mention its subject directly, but as Williams alluded, it’s impossible to not pin the lyrics to the impeached President Trump,” said the magazine in its February 2020 review, which further noted that the album addressed “an array of cultural and political issues, from social media persecution to a nonviable leader.”

The song’s lyrics are as brutal as it gets—describing a figure well beyond the point of redemption, unlike the rest of the album.

You’re a man without shame
Without dignity and grace
No way to save face
You’re a man without a soul

How do you think this story ends?
It’s not a matter of how
It’s just a matter of when

Although it is tempting to flip the script and try to transpose this description onto any number of immoral and corrupt leftist leaders, Trump supporters may find it challenging to stoop to so severe a level of vitriolic invective.

Thus, it serves only as a reminder of the unfathomable depths to which Trump Derangement Syndrome can reach.

Or, for those who still yearn for the bittersweet taste of Schadenfreude, a fond recollection of that fateful night, Nov. 8, 2016, when all of the superficial niceties were cast aside and the Left revealed the true viciousness of its nature for all to see.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at truthsocial.com/@bensellers.

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