Articles: Politics and the singer

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By Jamie Barnes

Sometimes I think people feel let down when I refuse to make political commentary from the stage. Or I refuse to play a local candidates’ rally (I’ve been asked to play more than a few). Or, to get into debates with them out at a club before or after the show. For some reason in this day and age, if you have an acoustic guitar and a microphone – you are also expected to have loud opinions.

True, these are interesting times for the country we live in. There are many exciting conversations happening out there and I love to hear them and engage in them from time to time.

But I write songs. I sing them and record them. My MySpace and official Web site are for those songs – which, I hope, go beyond elections, nominees, pundits and such. I hope they are aimed at people’s hearts. My heart doesn’t beat to the rhythm of any party drum. My hopes don’t rely on men or the promises they may or may not hold to. I don’t rely on myself or any body of voters to ultimately bring about change in my heart or anybody else’s. We as humans are incapable of providing ourselves any sort of ultimate answer to suffering or evil. History teaches us we are perpetual ditch diggers and hereditary filth dwellers.

This is not to say I don’t care about who the next president is or what laws are in place to increase fairness or eliminate war and hardship. Not at all – I pay taxes too. I benefit from certain bills being written. A position of indifference is self-centered and not compassionate. It’s downright ignorant, really.

What I am saying is that my hope rests in something beyond what we are able to offer. Ultimately, this is what I sing about and put my energy into. Furthermore, songs don’t save anybody either. They are merely just another form of expression. I am for change – but the kind of change that can’t be obtained through voting or any other sort of self-righteous motive. Perhaps, the more we allow our hearts to be worked on, the more cement that is chipped off of them – the more light and warmth can radiate outward and make an impact on the lives and communities that we expose ourselves to.

So – I regret to say that I won’t be playing any rally any time soon or putting up any banners on my site supporting this person or insulting that person. If you would like to know what I sing about then I am happy to converse with you. If you would like to know my political opinions – nine times out of 10 I’m gonna talk to you about something else.

Jamie Barnes is a singer/songwriter based in Louisville, Ky. This essay reprinted with permission from Jamie’s MySpace blog. Visit him at www.jamiebarnes.net or www.myspace.com/jamiebarnes.

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