Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

WordPress Stats

This one is a quick one. Happy new year to everyone and all the best.

In 2015 I wrote 111 posts.

In 2014 I wrote 256 posts.

My best attractions in 2015 are posts that I wrote in 2013.

  1. Why Chris DeGarmo walked away from it all?
    Written in July 2013
  2. Vito Bratta – He made it just to walk away
    Written in May 2013
  3. Crying In The Rain – The John Sykes Firing From Whitesnake
    Written in December 2013
  4. What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?
    Written in November 2013
  5. Vito Bratta: A Rock N Roll Technician That Got Lost In All The Noise
    Written in September 2013

The above stats are almost identical to my stats in 2014. For that year, these are the posts that got the most views. The only difference being that Richie Sambora.

  1. Why Chris DeGarmo walked away from it all?
    Written in July 2013
  2. Vito Bratta – He made it just to walk away
    Written in May 2013
  3. Richie Sambora
    Written in January 2014
  4. Crying In The Rain – The John Sykes Firing From Whitesnake
    Written in December 2013
  5. What does Protest The Hero’s – Volition album teach us about life?
    Written in November 2013

How did people come to the blog?

The top referring sites in 2015 were:

  1. facebook.com
  2. en.wikipedia.org
  3. WordPress.com Reader
  4. en.m.wikipedia.org
  5. twitter.com

My favourite WordPress sites are; 

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Ripped Off – Here Is My Middle Finger Salute

“Gettin’ ripped off, underpaid” ….. from “It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll”

Bon Scott knew his stuff. For a person who had been trying to make it for a long time, he was well seasoned and experienced enough to come up with some great lyrics. He was a perfect fit to the youthism of the Young brothers. If you take the time to dig deep into his lyrics, you will notice a certain theme of being ripped off by promoters and record label execs, which is polar opposite to what artists are saying today. With so much backlash against streaming services and royalty payments, more and more artists are going on record to state that the “fan doesn’t support and respect music”.

So how can the music industry explain how bands that have performed live have not been paid the monies owed to them by the promoters?

The fans that supposedly “don’t support and respect music” purchased their $180 plus concert ticket. Surely this is a show of support to the acts on the bill that people value and respect music.

“So if you’ve got the money, we’ve got the sound,
You put it up and we’ll put it down,
If you got the dollar, we got the song,
Just wanna boogie woogie all night long” ….. from “Aint No Fun (Waiting Around To Be A Millionaire)”

For those that don’t know, the 2016 Soundwave Festival in Australia has been cancelled due to poor ticket sales. However, the roots of the problems go back. From the 2015 edition of Soundwave, a lot of bands are still owed money from their festival appearance.

For the full list, click on this link.

Here is a selection of a few;

The main artists;

  • Soundgarden — $2,132,075.00
  • Slipknot — $1,645,299.29
  • The Smashing Pumpkins — $1,267,446.43
  • Faith No More — $751,076.20
  • Marilyn Manson — $588,000.56
  • Incubus — $571,428.58
  • Slash — $484,628.00
  • Fall Out Boy — $394,107.14
  • Judas Priest — $349,560.55
  • Ministry — $203,952.01
  • Godsmack — $200,000.00
  • Lamb of God — $161,323.33

The medium-sized and self-financed artists;

  • Papa Roach — $93,050.93
  • Steel Panther — $92,517.57
  • Fear Factory — $78,263.96
  • Apocalyptica — $65,601.90
  • Falling In Reverse — $54,064.98
  • Atreyu — $52,044.64
  • New Found Glory — $43,279.88
  • Nothing More — $35,000.00
  • Of Mice and Men — $29,040.00
  • Killer Be Killed — $24,513.00
  • Escape the Fate — $21,985.68
  • Dragonforce — $21,000.00
  • Monuments — $19,153.00
  • Animals as Leaders — $16,607.14
  • Nonpoint — $8,137.54
  • Ne Obliviscaris — $5,720.60

Commissions to an agency for organising acts;

  • Live Nation Worldwide, Inc — $1,180,325.56

That’s some serious dollars taken from the hard-working hands of the fans and not paid to the artists. You see, a fan believes that the act would be getting their cut. It’s an unwritten law that it will happen. The fan also knows that the promoter, venue and so forth would also get their cut. Which in a lot of cases is more than the acts cut.

“Living on a shoe string,
A fifty cent millionaire,
Open to charity,
Rock ‘n’ roller welfare” ….. from “Down Payment Blues”

Life is tough and when you don’t get paid, it’s even tougher, because we all have other commitments that we need to make. So are the fans to blame again for not supporting music.

Are the fans to blame when managers, promoters and record labels rip off the artists?

“It’s a song (“I Believe In You) I wrote a long time ago. Well a long time before it got put on a record, which is kind of a drag in a way because our original managers ripped us off for our publishing (on) the first two Yesterday and Today records. We haven’t received a penny publishing to this day from those two records. I wrote “I Believe in You” about the time they were managing us so when I put it on the “Earthshaker” record well after they were gone they still took my publishing and never gave me a cent for “I Believe In You”. Anyway it was written a long time ago about a break up that I had with a long-time relationship I had with a girl so the song inspired itself more or less.”
Dave Meniketti 

There is a lot of money to be made in music and the fans are spending. The fans respect music and value music. It’s a shame that the corporate entities that benefit largely from the music that artists create don’t value and respect music in the same way.

Unless Artists make a stand and take back their copyrights or organise better rates for themselves when they sell/license their rights to the corporations, then that copyright royalty pay rise will just end up with the corporate entity the artists sold their copyrights too.

SoundExchange, the organization that collects royalties is considering an appeal at the Copyright Tribunals decision to increase the royalty rate that Pandora and other stations needs to pay.

Now why would SoundExchange want to do that?

It’s because they have collected over $3 billion dollars in royalties since 2003 and once you take their standard 30% administration costs, it adds up to a lot of money for SoundExchange for doing absolutely nothing. But they want more of that pie.

Artists as usual get short-changed by all of the corporations taking their cut. And even when they perform live, it looks like they are still being shafted by the promoters.

In Australia, the recording industry revenues are growing and have been since 2012. And what was the defining moment in 2012 that caused this shift in revenue.

Of course, it was the arrival of Spotify in May 2012.

And that is what fans of music do. We double dip. I like to stream and on occasions I love owning something physical from the artists that I support.

Since 2008, those physical purchases include only the special deluxe pieces of art that bands produce. To pay $30 for a DVD/CD special edition album release is just not worth it. I would rather pay the $12 a month Spotify subscription and access that digitally. Recently, I was one of 40,000 people who purchased Coheed and Cambria’s “The Color Before The Sun” Super Deluxe Edition for $70US and I am one of many who have pre-ordered Dream Theater’s new album “The Astonishing” for $170.

Music doesn’t exist without its best customer; the fan. So as a fan, here is a big middle finger salute to all of those comments about fans of music not respecting music.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music, My Stories

1981 – Part IV – Took The Midnight Train Goin’ Anywhere

 

Journey – Escape
It’s Journey’s first album with keyboardist Jonathan Cain and what a way to make your Journey debut. The album was certified 9x platinum by the RIAA and the single “Don’t Stop Believin” has moved over 7.5 million units (digital and physical combined) in the U.S alone.

The album was co-produced by former Lynyrd Skynyrd soundman Kevin Elson and one-time Queen engineer Mike Stone, who also engineered the album. But the main driver/decorator of the album is Neal Schon. His playing by 1981 was an amalgamation of so many styles and his phrasing and note selection was spot on.

“Escape”
This is my favourite on the album. You can hear the origins of the melodic rock movement (that gained momentum many years later), right here in this song. Like most of the album, it’s a Cain, Perry and Schon composition.

“He’s just a young boy out of school
Livin’ his world like he wants to
They’re makin’ laws, but they don’t understand
Turns a boy in to a fightin’ man”

This song is buried away. In 2015, any new fan will need to dig deep into their catalogue to hear “Escape”.

“They won’t take me
They won’t break me”

No one wanted to give in to the establishments like the schools, the governments and the corporations. We all wanted to go our own way and do our own things the way we wanted to do them.

“Who’s Crying Now”
This one is a Cain and Perry composition. When Neal Schon breaks out that little lead line from the 3.30 minute mark, the song starts kicking for me. Schon is at the peak of his powers and the Escape album is evidence of those powers.

“Don’t Stop Believin'”
The big one. 158 million streams on Spotify.

As good as the piano riff is, check out what Schon does with it. The palm muted legato pull of lick at the intro, whammy bend is enough to stop the intro from getting boring. The whole song has Schon complimenting and adding to the original piano riff. By doing that, the song becomes a bonafide classic rock song.

“Took the midnight train goin’ anywhere”

Everyone dreams of leaving their city behind for bigger and better things, thinking that if they do, they will be happy, because they see happiness is some attainable goal. Although this song has been played to death in my household because it has been licensed to nearly every movie or TV commercial, the message is still crystal clear. Don’t stop trying, regardless of your age.

And the piece d’resistance of the song is when Schon actually plays the vocal line “Don’t Stop Believin” as a lead break before it even comes in at the end. Brilliant.

“Stone In Love”
If you persist with the song and get the 2.30 minute mark, it transitions into a melodic lead outro, which for a band with so much commercial appeal, it was excellent to hear, Schon break out some chops.

“Mother, Father”
This song is interesting and very progressive like Genesis. It’s written by Jonathan Cain, Joe Perry, Steve Perry, Matt Schon and Neal Schon.

AC/DC – For Those About to Rock We Salute You
The follow-up to “Back in Black” and Mutt Lange completes his trilogy of career defining albums with the band, that began with “Highway To Hell”. The labels, as usual started to flood the market with AC/DC music. First, Atlantic Records in the United States released the Australian version of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” to the U.S market, while another label released Geordie recordings, from Brian Johnson’s old band.

With any success, more money gets thrown into the recordings and what you get is an album that is over-produced. Still, it gave the world the title track, which more or less closes every AC/DC gig with the stage prop canons firing away. The song and the name of the album was inspired by a book Angus Young read, entitled “For Those About to Die, We Salute You”, about Roman gladiators.

And the certification armies came forth and bestowed upon the band many sales certifications. 4x Platinum in the U.S, 5 x Platinum in Australia and Platinum certifications in most of Europe.

“Stand up and be counted
For what you are about to receive
We are the dealers
We’ll give you everything you need” ….. from “For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

Phil Collins – Face Value
One song sums up this album; the 50 million plus streamed “In The Air Tonight”. If 1981 proved one thing, it was the year of the big hit song.  Eric Clapton is also on hand to play some guitar on “The Roof Is Leaking” which is a cult fave of mine.

Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog
A lot of people don’t know that Rick Springfield started getting in the music business officially in 1969 via pop rock group “Zoot” and from 1972 as a solo artist. Keeping with the 1981  theme, one song sums up this album, and that is “Jessie’s Girl”. It’s a shame that the album has been withheld from Spotify.

King Crimson – Discipline
The birth of “Tool”, “Between The Buried And Me” and “djent” is heard on this classic album. Like “Tool”, King Crimson does not participate in Spotify streaming, so the album is not available for streaming.

However, YouTube has it.

Yep folks, that’s the world we live in.

Now, if you are looking for big arena rock choruses than King Crimson is not the band for you. However, if you are looking for a band that pushed musical boundaries and inspired a whole new generation of progressive, math and technical rock/metal bands, then King Crimson is the band to sink your teeth into.

Check out the instrumental title track “Discipline” and the similar sounding “Frame By Frame” and you’ll hear what I mean. “Elephant Talk” lyrically is garbage, however the bass playing from Tony Levin on his Chapman Stick is worth a listen.

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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Spotify Stats

I kicked off the year with “Better” from Guns N Roses.

My top 5 most streamed artists on Spotify for 2015 are:

  • Trivium
  • Machine Head
  • Lotus Crush
  • Y & T
  • Tremonti

My Top 5 most steamed albums are:

  • “Rabbit Hole” by Lotus Crush
  • “Silence In The Snow” by Trivium
  • “Bloodstone And Diamonds” by Machine Head
  • “Down For The Count” by Y & T
  • “All I Was” by Tremonti

My Top 5 most streamed tracks are:

  • “Hearts And Minds” by Lotus Crush
  • “Blood In The Water” by Lotus Crush
  • “Down From The Sky” by Trivium
  • “In Due Time” by Killswitch Engage
  • “I Ain’t Old, I Ain’t Young” by The Night Flight Orchestra

I listened to 67 different artists and 206 different tracks.

In Summer;

  • Machine Head, Blowsight and Guns N Roses did the rounds.

In Autumn;

  • Tremonti, 10 Years and Submersed did the rounds.

In Winter;

  • Trivium, The Night Flight Orchestra and Linkin Park did the rounds.

In Spring;

  • Lotus Crush, Trivium and Y&T did the rounds.
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Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

2015 – Part IV: My Horns To The Sky

NUMBER 13:
Halestorm – Into The Wild Life
Adele might get all the press, but Lzzy Hale is the one that will outlast them all. This is a pretty solid album and each week it’s still selling units and it’s being streamed. Spotify tells me that 3 million unique listeners streamed 330 years worth of Halestorm music. As an artist, that is all you can ask for.

“All you doubters and haters, actors, and fakers, I don’t have time for you” ….. from “Scream”

The truth is; we do have time for the doubters, haters and fakers. Initially, their spite; upsets us. In time, we harden up and are able to shrug it off.

“’Cause I’m a sick individual and I’m doing this thing called whatever the fuck I want” ….. from “Sick Individual”

It’s a brilliant play on words.

“And just like old school Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Lemmy
I need to drop it down low and make it heavy” ….. from “I Like It Heavy”

“Since I was 13 years old, I’ve had my horns to the sky” ….. from “I Like It Heavy”

I dig the reference to Lemmy instead of Motorhead. His legend is bigger than that of his band.

NUMBER 14:
Europe – War Of Kings
Europe had massive success back in the 80’s. You could tell that while they had fun, they just weren’t comfortable being in a pop world. You could hear in their music that they wanted to explore more territory creatively. And they did just that with their reunion in 2004. Five albums later they are making more money now than what they did in the Eighties. They have their own company, own their music and license it to people who want to work with the band. They plan their tours and merchandise. They work really hard on social media.

Spotify tells me that 6 million listeners played 240 years worth of Europe music in 2015.

I’m a big fan of Europe’s return to mysticism in the lyrics and personal reflection. They have re-invented themselves. And for lovers of the seventies Euro Rock influences, then “War Of Kings” is the album. Dave Cobb who produced “Rival Sons” is on hand to produce.

“Hit” songs on this album are “Days Of Rock N Roll” (how good is that riff), “War Of Kings”, “Children Of The Mind” (what a groove), “Angels (With Broken Hearts) and “Rainbow Bridge” (for the exoticism groove).

“Somebody told me, it’s all the same now
Somebody told me, we’ve had our turn
Gotta believe that times still ours” ….. from “Days Of Rock ‘n’ Roll”

I remember reading interviews with Europe during the writing and recording of “Prisoners Of Paradise” and how the record company asked them for “hits”. Eventually the album comes out; in a marketplace that was changing and morphing into an anti-rock movement. You can just imagine the record heads then telling Europe, “your career is over, your style of music is finished and there is a new style replacing the old style”. Sort of like “Ten Thousand Fists” from Disturbed.

“Nothing can touch the living hope the human spirit owns” ….. from “Rainbow Bridge”
“We build our lives, hopefully the one that we choose” ….. from “Angels (With Broken Hearts) Lyrics”

A decision was forthcoming for one of my kids, that as a parent I had to make for him. The road he will be on next year is a decision that was made solely by me, as a parent. Based on the information at hand right now, it feels like the right decision. Years into the future, hindsight might prove otherwise. And that is life in a nutshell. Born into this world, the main decisions are made by our parents. They set a course for our lives and hopefully it is not too far detached from the life we want to live when we get older.

NUMBER 15:
Periphery – Alpha / Omega
I saw Periphery at a small pub in Sydney called the Annandale Hotel. Impressive was the fact that six of them fitted onto that tiny stage that my three piece band once upon a time couldn’t fit on. It was a sold out show and Periphery didn’t disappoint.

I must say that I am a fan of their songs when they have more clean tone and melodic vocals instead of the screaming/growling vocals. In saying that some of their songs like “Ragnarok” have a mixture of both and a song like that needs that style.

I have seen some websites call them the modern face of metal. Periphery is a band that is technical. Nowadays, the odds are stacked against most bands that deviate from the basic verse-chorus formula. In my view, bands like Periphery and TesseracT always need to innovate with each release. Their style is such that they can borrow/be influenced from any musical style, culture/genre and fans expect that innovation.

And they are a band that is from the people, being formed via forums, blogs and other social media websites. Fans of the band ended up in the band. And they are realistic in their goals. They know they will not be as big as Metallica. So they play to their core and their core sustains them.

Spotify tells me that Periphery have 694,000 listeners, who have streamed 130 years worth of Periphery music in 2015. But if you look at their sales record, it is anemic compared to their streams.

Which brings me to the double album; Alpha and Omega. A concept story, albeit a pretty scary one if you read the lyrics. Check it out.

“What’s yours, is ours for the taking
Take this bruise as a sign that we own you now and forevermore” ….. from “MK Ultra”

“It’s never greener inside the mess we’re in
Wanting what you never have
The less we are content the more we throw away what little time we have left to grow” ….. from “Alpha”

“Staring at the hourglass, my life it feels like a machine running with no direction” ….. from “22 Faces”

“Hold your breath
We’re sinking down for miles in an ocean full of mortal mistake, where the light is much clearer
Is it time to purge our lungs amongst the shipwreck?” ….. from “Rainbow Gravity”

“Now I am a product of a mind that wasn’t ever mine and now it says “Kill them slow”” ….. from “Psychosphere”

“Suffocating in a world of human filth
Yes pull me under
Stop treading in a pool of your own blood
Accept demise” ….. from “Graveless”

“Can we show the ones who are blind?
Show them that we’re not blind” ….. from “Omega”

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Fame Game

“You let them know you are large and in charge. It’s the way you stand, the way you carry yourself. Being a front man is less about your voice than your ability to connect with a crowd. A front man is a salesman. Steve Jobs was a front man. Wozniak was the great songwriter, but he couldn’t sell the thing he created. He needed the cock rocker Jobs to say, “Pay attention to this!” I wasn’t always confident, but confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It starts as false bravado—you’re acting like you’re cool and confident even when you’re not—but if you’re convincing enough, people start to believe it. Then you start to believe it and then it’s the reality.”
Dee Snider on his philosophy on how to connect with an audience

You see, fame ain’t what it used to be. In the past, very few people made it and when they did, we all knew their name, regardless of their style of music. Now, no one even knows who the “stars” are. The odds of breaking through your inner circle are tiny, but people keep trying.

So where does that leave the artists who are trying to sustain a career in an ever-changing marketplace because fame is a game. It’s not always about the music, but more about communication and participation.

Sully Erna is a salesman. He goes on a radio show and Nikki Sixx becomes the topic of his conversation. He generates a ton of interest, a lot of discussion and he played the fame game. But that was weeks ago. The feud is old news again. Forgotten for the time being. The audience moved on to another topic, to another artist.

Remember when music records and singles used to be number one for ages. Well, that doesn’t happen anymore in music and it definitely doesn’t happen when it comes to information. News is an on demand item. The only question is where are we going to get it from. The usual suspects are far from impartial. Look at the Top 20 lists at Loudwire and Noisecreep and Ultimate Classic Rock and you will see that the lists are made up of the bands that had big PR campaigns with the website; not because the albums are worthy of being in the top 20.

Music is not the leader anymore. Information is. And with a million ways to occupy ourselves, artists need to find a different way to make us pay attention. So with everything available, we are drawn to very few.

Like James Hetfield.

The “SoWhat” fan club magazine interviews offer up personal viewpoints and feelings that people can connect with. He doesn’t do side projects because it needs to add to what he is about and not detract from Metallica. However he is now okay with his band mates side projects. He told us that Metallica lost millions doing the Orion Music + More festivals and he offers his insights as to why that might be the case. He gives us his feelings on “Lulu”. Then there is the movie “Through The Never” that cost the band millions. Again more insights or “excuses” as some metal websites called them.

So even though Metallica hasn’t released new music in seven years, Hetfield is constantly out there playing the fame game.

Whether you agree with the viewpoints or not, it’s actually good to listen to artists having a say instead of not saying anything. Even artists like Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley who fail to understand or realise that the record company model is based on stealing everything from the artist, are good at playing the fame game, especially when they have nothing new to offer musically.

Because it is virtually impossible to get mindshare in todays cluttered and chaotic world. We had MTV, Hit Parader, Circus, Rip and Metal Edge magazines and they reached everybody. Today, we get the popular squeezing out the less popular and what we have are people complaining there is no money in music.

And who cares what sales record is broken. Adele is all over the news about her sales figures. Star Wars the same. Michael Jackson and Thriller just passed 30 million.

Does anyone know who many records Black Sabbaths “Paranoid” sold, or Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil” or Dream Theater’s “Images and Words” or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” or Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” or Journey’s “Escape”.

Hell, even the bands won’t know how many albums they would have sold, as the accounting of it all was dodgy and secretive. But the music has maintained. Dream Theater is still doing victory laps from the success of “Images and Words”. I just forked out $170 for “The Astonishing” pre order of the deluxe edition.

In the end, everything is a game, with winners and losers.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Politics and Music

“We also license our music very aggressively. This is for two reasons: We derive a huge income stream from this exploitation, and our music reaches listeners in new ways, building more fans.”
Jay Jay French

There has been a bit of backlash to politicians and other movements using popular songs as backing tracks to their campaigns and demonstrations. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was exploited by Arnie for his California Governor campaign and recently by Trump for his presidential bid. Both times, the TS machine allowed it to happen. However, in 2012 Dee Snider asked Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to stop using the song, because he did not support Ryan.

Prior to Trump using “We’re Not Gonna Take It” he used songs from other artists.

Steven Tyler asked Donald Trump to stop using the power ballad “Dream On” at his campaigns. Trump responded by saying that he found a better song to take its place.

Trump was also asked to stop using, R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in The Free World”.

In Australia, anti-Islam rally groups started to use a song from Cold Chisel at their rallies, which had Jimmy Barnes (the vocalist) taking to his Facebook page to state that he did not support these groups using the music.

So what right do artists have if any, to stop these exploitations from happening?

Did you know that Neil Young was asking Trump for money for his stupid PONO music player before Trump decided to enter politics. Then months later, Young is asking Trump to stop using his music because he doesn’t agree with his viewpoints nor does he want to be associated with it.

How can it be that it is okay for people to purchase the music of the artists, but not okay for those same people to use the music of the artists to prove a point or get a message through.

Don’t we live in a democratic society, where freedom of speech is valued?.

And then that Copyright word is put out there. If an artist sells their copyright to a corporation for a fee, then what right do they have to “use copyright” as a censorship tool. They have sold their right. You can’t have it both ways.

If anyone has the right to complain, then it is the corporation.

So which way do artists want?

I have read articles where Dee Snider is even contemplating telling Trump to not use “Were Not Gonna Take It” anymore, however I hope he doesn’t do so.

Because, in the end, music needs people to thrive and it can be used by the people in many different ways. Many supporters of political campaigns and movements are music fans. So while the artist thinks that they are taking a stand against the politician or the movement, as a by product of taking that stand they are also taking a stand against their own fan base.

Now, people might come from different walks of life and have differing viewpoints on a range of issues. Just because an artist doesn’t agree with a viewpoint it doesn’t mean the people should be stopped from using songs that they grew up with or songs that could get their message across in a way no speech could.

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