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The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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COLUMN: Musical mayhem
Brie Coder
Brie Coder is a graduate student studying graduate student in communication and leadership and can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

All signs point to this: Halloween 2023 was a success. The candy tasted sweeter (if you could afford it), and the costumes were neater. Suffice to say, everyone was in full spirits for the spookiest day of the year.

Although the black and orange holiday is in the rear view mirror, the horrors of reality are yet upon us. Between overseas wars, gun violence, immigration concerns and a harrowing economy, it seems fear has swept our nation and into our music.

That’s not to say this is anything new. Take, for example, the genre of punk and the messages of anti-conformity spread throughout the lyrics of bands The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Rancid and Dropkick Murphys, to name a few. Or the anti-Vietnam War songs like Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” or “War” by Edwin Starr.

But recently, it seems the stellar men who brought us “American Idiot,” Green Day, along with country-folk left fielder, Oliver Anthony, have something to say about the current climate we live in.

Through their own experiences and those around them, these anti-establishment vigilantes collectively crafted and beautifully articulated our cries and pleas into hit songs, “The American Dream Is Killing Me” and “Rich Men North Of Richmond,” respectively.

An already accomplished voice of truth, Green Day’s vocalist, Billie Joe Armstrong, explores in less than four minutes the yin and yang of the American system with “The American Dream Is Killing Me.”

Similar to Bruce Springsteen’s anthem “Born in the U.S.A.,” the narrative asked throughout this piece is, “Are we well?” As direct as they can be, Green Day answers it with a yes and no response. The yes replies come from what some dub the joy of their daily living: TikToks and condos. But, of course, those joys are answered with despair with homelessness, taxes and double talk of conspiracy and insanity.

Although the song certainly hits home, Green Day seems to combine their punk roots with some Beatles flair, as the middle chorus slips into a John Lennon, soft and dulcet sound, similar to “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

If you find this song to whet your appetite, then you’re in for a treat, as Green Day’s Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool have announced their next studio album, “Saviors,” which will be released on January 19.

They are not the only fearless man to stand in the face of controversy. Next in line is Anthony’s “Rich Men North Of Richmond.” In this tear-jerker, Oliver sits us down and tells the tale of woe and the undeniable rabbit hole of hypocrisy that tends to live in our American culture.

Anthony kicks off the song with the haunting lyrics, “I’ve been sellin’ my soul, workin’ all day,

overtime hours for bullsh– pay. So I can sit out here and waste my life away, drag back home and drown my troubles away.”

In other words, Anthony is standing up and representing the blue-collar folks who see nothing but zeros in their tenure of hard work. Gosh, if that doesn’t hit you right away, then I recommend getting your heart checked by a doctor!

Later in the song, Anthony addresses the red, white and blue elephant in the room on the government’s invasion of our privacy, singing, “These rich men north of Richmond, Lord knows they all just wanna have total control. Wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do, and they don’t think you know, but I know that you do.”

Other subjects mentioned include the abuse of welfare, homelessness and politicians getting richer and fatter off the backs of the working class.

Although some criticized Anthony’s song for bashing the body positivity community with his comments on overweight people and their abuse of welfare, or that this song was the self-proclaimed anthem of the conservative party (spoiler alert: it’s not!), it did not stop him from gaining the number one spot on the country Billboards and general Billboard Hot 100 charts. Not bad for a guy who self-produces his music!

Even though America is on life support, it’s not to say that we’re damaged goods quite yet. As the saying goes, “Music soothes the savage beast.” And right now, we need all the therapy we can get, including lullabies from artists who still love and care for a country that allows them to freely express their distaste and distrust of our government.

Love it or leave it: you’d have to be an “American Idiot” to think politics in music will ever end, especially since we’re on the cusp of re-electing or newly electing our 47th president next year. Oof.

Brie Coder can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.

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Brie Coder
Brie Coder, Columnist
Brie Coder is a graduate student in communication and leadership. She previously served as a columnist for The News.

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