Cosmic Slop #109: Politics and Music – Don’t You Listen To The Lyrics?

By Shaun Ponsonby
Fri 09 June, 2017

Shaun Ponsonby keeps his eyes on the political and asks how audiences can possibly act surprised or offended when prominent, outspoken artists incorporate their views into their live shows. 

What a night, eh?

We just had that election that we’re having in 2020, and it was a night full of twists and turns that shocked the pundits, but I get the feeling that a lot of us non-pundity types were kind of expecting it. But it was certainly more dramatic than your average episode of Eastenders, that’s for darn sure. It was glorious seeing a succession of Tories squirm when the slow realisation hit that Theresa May had shot herself in the tits.

It’s traditionally hard for Tories to find vocal support. Most recognisable faces were endorsing Jeremy Corbyn. It was no different this time around. Even the bafflingly popular Gary Barlow decided not to be a particularly visible Tory bastard. They had Katie Hopkins, a woman so vile that even UKIP keep turning down her application to join (seriously), and Jim Davidson, such a notorious fanny that I can’t even be bothered to insult him.

It is hard to be an outspoken artist. If you are a successful left leaning musician, you get labelled a “Champagne Socialist”, which is an argument that obviously makes about as much sense as the fact that there are four sequels to the Kirsten Dunst film Bring It On.

Apparently, having been successful, it is literally impossible to give a shit about those less fortunate than you, and you should give EVERY LAST PENNY that you have earned in your career to all the homeless people because it is your responsibility to house and cloth everybody, not the government whose policies probably put them there. So, take that, literally everyone who voted Labour.

Of course, most tread a fine line. They don’t let it seep too deeply into their work for fear of alienating too much of the audience. But there are some who don’t give a frig, and jump balls first into a mire of angered activism.

Some of these are obvious. Realistically, there is nobody on the right who is going to see Billy Bragg, is there? But there are others who seem to ruffle feathers quite a bit more.

Former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters recently released his latest studio album, and first since 1992’s Amused To Death. It is titled Is This The Life We Really Want? and has been inspired by all the recent political upsets. It is Roger Waters, after all.

He is currently promoting the record in America on a tour called Us and Them, after the Floyd song on The Dark Side of the Moon. It is gaining rave reviews for both music and visuals, but what is curious is reading the comments on Waters’ social media updates.

Apparently, there are people in America who have been listening to Waters and Pink Floyd for nearly 50 years and had no idea he was not only politically outspoken, but  decidedly left leaning.

Much of the show is full of anti-Trump imagery, most notably during Money, which mocks his ties with Russia, and especially in Pigs (Three Different Ones), in which Trump is depicted as a pig with a micro penis. Along with the lyrics, his picture appears on screens, captioned with the word “charade”.

According to both reviews and people on his Facebook page, hundreds of people have been walking out, flipping Waters the bird, swearing as they leave and returning their merchandise.

Which begs the question; who did these people think they were listening to for all of these years?

Waters has always been explicitly political, and seems to gain more so with each successive project. The Dark Side of the Moon was sort of social political, Animals more explicitly so, The Wall even more explicitly so. My favourite counter-argument to this was that he hasn’t always been this political, and that he only started naming names on The Final Cut album.

But, even there, The Final Cut was in 1983. Using this counter-argument, he has been naming names for 34 sodding years. Did you never listen to his lyrics? I mean, you’re following him on Facebook, so I’m sure you have seen his posts. He even uploaded a performance of Pigs with the Trump imagery clearly on display, with the message “The resistance starts today”. You really have no excuse.

What people really mean when they say an artist should stay out of politics is “They should stay out of politics that I don’t agree with”. The other thing to do is just not go to the show if it is going to offend you so much. For example, I would never go to see Ted Nugent or Megadeth, because both Nugent and Dave Mustaine are right wing to the point where it becomes total arseholery to a leftie bastard such as myself.

Nugent, ever the gent, brandishes guns on stage and tells people he doesn’t agree with politically to “Suck on my machine gun”, whereas Mustaine has form for telling his audience that Obama was staging terror attacks with all the proof that these claims tend to come with; fucking zilch.

I’m not even a fan of these people and I know this. So if you are Pink Floyd and/or Roger Waters fan, how the fuck can you not know that Waters is likely to be an outspoken liberal? Read a CD booklet once in a while.


My family need to form a singing group and become famous. I can’t live with Bootle’s most prominent famous faces being Paul Nuttall and Cheggars.

NME run with the headline “Jeremy Corbyn Reveals Whether He Prefers Oasis or Blur“. I was wondering when they would make the election about Oasis. Get the fuck over it – it was 20 years ago, they’re not getting back together, and they were shit to begin with.


  • Image: Roger Waters’ Facebook