Woodie Guthrie's This Machine Kills Fascists

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The Death of Punk Rock Using music to present political ideas with the intent to bring about meaningful change in the world was not invented by punk rock. A specific example of this can be found in the music of the American folk musician Woodie Guthrie. His 1940 anthem “This Land is Your Land” is a classic example of a powerful protest song. In fact, Guthrie sang the song while playing a guitar with the words “This Machine Kills Fascists” written directly on it. One could argue that you simply cannot get more “punk” than that! However very few musicians were as overtly loud, angry and as upfront about their feelings and motivations as the punk musicians of the late 1970s and early 1980s. A quick review of song titles alone tells the story…show more content…
Sonically a punk song has very definitive traditions. To start, punk bands typically consisted of 3 to 4 core members. The music they created utilized an electric guitar, electric bass guitar, standard drum kit, and one or two lead singers. The songs were often recorded live in the studio and very quickly. This recording style reflected the fact that most bands had little money to afford lengthy recording sessions and also fed into the sonic tradition of a “live feel” to the recordings. Songs were played very loud and very fast. The beats per minute of a typical punk song are around 150-200. This loud, fast tradition also meant that the songs were short in length. Typically a classic punk rock song lasts 3 minutes long, but some tended to be shorter. Since the themes of the songs contained consistent anti-establishment messages that reflected an overall disillusionment with the government, military, employment and society, the songs ideas tended to be stated in a loud, fast, and very brief…show more content…
Originally written as a protest over what he saw as Capitalism’s destruction of America, Guthrie’s song has completely lost its original meaning and now is simply seen as a glorification of the beauty of our country and its resources. Likewise, this case study of the origins, history, sonic elements, and current state of punk music shows that over time a genre of music that was once a subversive and anti-establishment can also be completely assimilated into the mainstream. While the simple sonic elements of the music remain basically the same, everything else related to it has changed. The attitudes of the musicians and fans have softened over time. The theme and intent of the music has morphed into a commercially viable product. And what was once considered a scary and radical sub-culture can now be found at any store in any local mall. Most important, the communal aspect of forming a punk band has virtually disappeared. Due to advances in digital recording, the concept of a “band” in today’s music world is often just one person and a laptop computer. According to Mr. Davidson, “the concept of a group of friends who come together to make a noise will always be integral to punk music.” So when all of these factors are combined and considered, a person cannot make the

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