USA Singers Trash Trump (Hugely) - Liberal Resistance

USA Singers Trash Trump (Hugely)

Summary: The USA Singers are a new musical group formed to trash Trump and Fascism with the power of music. They produce protest songs based on many different forms of American music, ranging from Rock to Big Band to Jazz. Check out their funny, powerful, and moving music at The USA Singers.

Donald Trump has been unmitigated disaster for the United States, but three positive things he has managed to do: he has united and energized the Left, he has revealed the fundamental cruelty and corruption of the modern Republican Party, and, most of all, he has inspired legions of great songwriters and musicians to produce new masterpieces of protest music—individuals and groups ranging from Rebel Rampage to the Parody Project have helped re-vitalize the great American traditional of political music.

And, now, we have a new and potent entry into field—The USA Singers, a collective of musicians and artists who have set out to fight fascism, with music. “I believe it was Dan Rather who said that we must fight this regime with humor and art,” says the USA Singer’s leader and co-founder, a professional musician who uses the name “Frankie D. Roosevelvet.”

He won’t reveal his real name. None of the USA Singers will—preferring instead to employ a variety of noms de guerre, all with certain comic connection to American history. There’s Rutherford Purple Hayes, Dolly Madison Avenue, Jackie Oniceass, Blind Orange Coolidge, Thomas George Jefferson, Herbert Hoover Damn!, and Slick Willie Chili, among many others. However, he will admit that they are all well known, and have been in the industry for a very long time. Under their real names, says Roosevelvet, “we have collectively played tens of thousands of shows…[and] all over the world.”

But, busy as they are, these musicians felt they could no longer remain silent given the nature of the Trumpian regime. “[Some of] the major artists have been sitting on the sidelines in all this,” he notes. “We felt it was our duty to add to the repertoire of patriotic political protest music.” The result was USA Singers, which has just released its first albumThe Orange Album.

Roosevelvet is quick to explain that USA Singers is not in the busy of producing parody songs. Not that they have anything against parody. He says they love people like Parody Project and Randy Rainbow, parodists pure and simple. However, they are themselves producing actual protest tunes, in the tradition of Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, and Woody and Arlo Guthrie. “Those are my heroes,” says Roosevelvet.

Thus, the tunes may be quite funny, like “Bigly Hands” and “Trump Train,” but they are original tunes, and are meant to instruct while they put “a smile on people’s faces.” Thus, in song after song, piece after piece, music video after music video, they savage the Trump administration and all that it stands for. We have, for instance, Border Wall, which sounds like a peaceful bit of Latin Lounge, even while it reveals the fundamental absurdity of Trump’s Wall. Also, there’s My Casinos, which gives us a very close look at Trump’s (failed) casino empire. And, of course, there’s (I’m Not) Kellyann, which explores the Orwellian nature of Kellyann Conway’s pronouncements, as in:

 

Up is down, left is right

Off is on, day is night

Rich is poor, black is white

Strong is weak, loose is tight

War is peace, love is hate

Death is life, lame is great

Good is bad, wrong is right

Lost is found, blind is sight

chorus

Can’t you understand

I’m not Kellyanne

Facts are what I say they are

I’m smart and I’m beautiful

 

The USA Singers are thus a must for anyone in the mood for a little anti-Trump musical humor. However, there are other aspects of the group. For one thing, they bring quite a bit of thinking to their operation. They consciously seeking out the most American forms of music, like Jazz and Rock, both American inventions even though, in some ways, ‘60s Rock became a British colony after the Beatles.

Still, says Roosevelvet, the group is working to link itself to what is uniquely American, “We are playing Rock, Blues, Hip Hop, Country…we have an art song that harkens back to Broadway.” It is hard, he notes, to get more American than Broadway.

And more, the group is consciously looking back to the uniquely American tradition of protest music—“we throw songs rather than bricks.” Thus, says Roosevelvet, USA Singers looks not only to the anti-war music of the 1960s, but also songs of labor protest, such as those of Joe Hill in the 1920s, as well as songs protesting racial injustice (for example, Strange Fruit, made famous by such singers as Billie Holiday), and the music of the anti-militarist and civil rights movements in the 1940s and 1950s, such as that of the Weavers and Pete Seeger.

Finally, the USA Singers are of interest to the musical historian in that with the Orange Album they are attempting to bring back the Concept Album, that is, an album which is also a single work of art, in which each piece of music continues or elaborates on a single idea—in this case the idea of Trump and his administration as an unfortunate aberration in our national history. Concept Albums were once rather common, with everyone from The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) to Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon) providing examples. However, in the closing years of the twentieth century, Concept Albums, perhaps because CDs do not lend themselves as well to the concept of the “album” as do vinyl records. Now, though, there has been at least small resurgence, perhaps because in an age of streaming, it is easier or more marketable to sell a whole collection of tunes (in effect, an album) than a single piece of music.

“We are in the tradition of the troubadour,” says Roosevelvet. “That is, we are of the folk ethic of writing music about important events.” Though, he admits, given the nature of the Trump administration, it is hard to keep up with the insanity.

Even so, he thinks that protest music will play a role in bringing down the Orange One. “Music is the universal language…it is the planetary language,” he notes, which makes it powerful. “We have never played a show, but we are selling records all over the world.”

And when does he think the USA Singers will do a show. “That’s up to you,” he says, by which he means the listeners. “If the public wants us, we’re there. If you want us, we’ll be there for a four-hour show in a moment’s notice.”

So, everyone, let’s give USA Singers that moment’s notice. Check out their website, their album, and their merchandise. And let’s all push for that four hour show.

After all, in an age of Trump…

We need all the troubadours we can get.

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Editor’s Note: Over the next few weeks, we will be running brief stories, with videos, on some of The USA Singers individual efforts. So stay tuned. We’ve got their protest songs coming!