Every so often, an event occurs on the political scene that shocks many while causing others to smile. I’m smiling about this one.
In the mid-1960s and into the early 1970s, no band was more misunderstood than the Velvet Underground. Lour Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Nico and Maureen “Mo” Tucker created music that was challenging, irritating, at times ethereal and beautiful and at other times dangerous and ugly (frequently in the same compositions). The Velvet’s influence on rock music, especially the punk movement that followed them, still resonates today.
I’m certain most of you reading this have a view of rock musicians as mostly political leftists, loudly supporting every whacked-out progressive cause that comes down the pike, and you would be correct. So imagine the shock waves in the music world when this video clip appeared on YouTube some weeks ago. Wait for it…it happens about 2:40 into the clip, right near the end:
That’s none other than Mo Tucker, former drummer for one of history’s most anarchistic bands, speaking about her support for the Tea Party Movement.
What’s interesting is that this news report was broadcast in April 2009, about the time the Tea Party rallies were beginning in earnest around the nation. Tucker, who’s done some very un-radical things like working for Wal-Mart and helping to raise her grandchildren, seems comfortable in this setting, among the ordinary people of her community. She’s apparently as sick of the Obama Administration and its radical shift to the left as those of us on the traditional conservative side and she’s not afraid to express her opinions, her rock-and-roll “street cred” notwithstanding. Consider this: Tucker was pretty much at the front of this movement, not jumping on the bandwagon along the way.
Tucker certainly isn’t the only rock musician who’s spoken out about these issues, but the ones we know about, like the Ted Nugents of the world, generally live a conservative live they’ve led for many years. Tucker’s appearance came out of the blue and has stunned many supporters into ranting at her alleged “traitor” status, as though whatever movement they support is the same thing she’s supposed to support.
Tucker agreed to an interview with a St. Louis alternative newsweekly in which she clears the air on her beliefs in a frank and uncensored way. The best quote in the story comes when she expresses her dismay at people who attack her for her beliefs:
What are your feelings about the online reactions? Many people seem upset or outraged.
I’m stunned that so many people who call themselves liberal yet are completely intolerant. I thought liberals loved everyone: the poor, the immigrant, the gays, the handicapped, the minorities, dogs, cats, all eye colors, all hair colors! Peace, love, bull! Curious they have no tolerance whatsoever for anyone who doesn’t think exactly as they do. You disagree and you’re immediately called a fool, a Nazi, a racist. That’s pretty f’d up!! I would never judge someone based on their political views. Their honesty, integrity, kindness to others, generosity? Yes. Politics? No!
Whatever Tucker believes politically, I’m happy to see that she unafraid to express what she believes without worrying about the consequences of distressing the rest of the music industry or her friends. Tucker’s history with the Velvets and other bands certainly gives her legendary status. But legends, just like the rest of us, sometimes live “ordinary” lives working and taking care of family. That’s all the “street cred” she needs for me.
Mo, lots of us are sticking with you. Now sing it.