“Four dead in Ohio.” “Paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.” “We’ll put a boot in your ass.” “What would you do if your son was at home, crying all alone on the bedroom floor because he’s hungry?” American popular music has a long history of politically provocative songs, some more artfully executed than others. In the last fifty years, popular music has played a large role in the United States’ broad conversation about politics; a role so pervasive that the entire premise of political popular music was sent up in a 2003 episode of South Park:
Like “I’m A Little Bit County,” many political songs go hand in hand with a given political issue: support or opposition to a war, pleas for increased environmental protection, plaintive calls to better understand the lives of strippers. But not every political song is so overtly an “issue” song containing a readily accessible policy stance. In fact, in January 1997 three rock songs were released— all addressing the same subject— with clear calls for empathy and understanding and lacking an implied imperative political action. And they came at the tail end of some of the most persistent domestic terrorism in the history of the United States. These songs were about abortion.