Trump Music


Political and topical music may be so anemic that I no longer hear enough to do an annual review of its highlights. But as moribund as it is, it’s not dead.

And when something comes along that exemplifies it at its best, I must make note here. Such is the case with a 2008 song returning with a new video by Eliza Gilkyson, “The Great Correction.” (Listen to it on

By way of full disclosure, I know Eliza and like her immensely. And I rate her work over the last two decades as consistently not just exemplary but also emotionally compelling. The clip is a collaboration with her son Cisco Ryder, who I not too long ago worked alongside as a fellow writer and editor for an Austin, Texas, local news and culture web publication.

To put it as simply as possible, the nearly 10-year-old song speaks to the situation we face with the rise of Trumpism and the virtual coup d’etat by a twisted GOP and conservatives – I’m tempted to add the adjective evil here – with a compelling eloquence and grace. As an example of what makes for great political music, it obviously hits one key component on the bullseye: Achieving that almost Zen koan state of being both timeliness and timelessness. That’s no mean feat, one reason why great topical music is so rare.

In fact, the song probably has greater relevance now that it did when recorded nearly a decade ago. The video – which shows black & white photos both historical and contemporary that relate to our cultural and political conflicts and issues interwoven with pungent quotes about resistance – underscores the song’s spirit and message and how it speaks to the current crisis without ever making direct reference.

Both the song and clip have a structural simplicity, yet again, in that Zen loan way of contradictory notions blending into something that makes higher sense, behind the seeming sparseness of both is a potency of truth and wisdom that hits home with a mighty wallop akin to a Zen master’s brickbat. This too is an essential element of great political music.

Its title, “The Great Correction,” is a notion that has been applied before to situations both specific and broader within human existence. As used here, it’s similar to what I’ve been saying for not just years but decades: That mankind must make a giant evolutionary and, I daresay, spiritual leap in order for us and the planet to survive.

There’s few things more obvious to me. Yet the rise of what can be found within Trumpism has given temporal power to too many of those who are not evolved, aware and wise. The forces of hate, ignorance, rapacious capitalism, prejudice, wrong-headed ideology and so much more of the many base human character flaws – and the way too many people in both micro and macro ways take out their negative personal issues and flaws on others and the world at large – are swirling around us in what feels like a near hurricane of crisises.

Gilkyson captures that all with a stunning poetic skill. She eschews literalism for the power of basic yet great truths. In way, the song is a prayer for humanity and Earth, especially in its final line: “Don’t let me down/When the great correction comes.”

It’s a gem of political music that gives me comfort and inspiration alongside a feast of food for thought. If more artists can create songs this great along with such moving visuals to accompany the music, maybe, just maybe, we might make it through the most troubling times (by far) I’ve known in my 63 years and achieve an actual and positive correction.

Populist Picks

CD: Peace Trail by Neil Young – God bless Neil Young for striving to create music that speaks to the times. But after the somewhat flawed yet meritorious Monsanto Years and potent live album Earth. he offers a rather weak mixed bag of songs that sadly don’t measure up anywhere near his best.

Book: Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – After going through a devoted streak of reading the gonzo crime novelist’s work back in the 1990s or so, it’s been a while since I’ve read him. This 2013 tale of mayhem and moral turpitude set in his usual milieus of the Florida Keys and Miami along with the Bahamas proves him as masterful as ever.

TV Documentary: The Cuba Libre Story – This eight episode Netflix look at the fractious history of the island nation so close to ours you can almost touch it offers a compelling and insightful historical overview at a time when the relationship between Cuba and America is shifting in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death.

Rob Patterson is a music and entertainment writer in Austin, Texas. Email

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2017

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