music as social action ::
Tim Heidecker is an actor, comedian, and musician. In addition to his comedy duo and roles in TV and film, he makes occasional recordings and tours. His music, in a variety of styles, also leans toward the comic but in a topical, social-messaging way. A year after President Trump's election, he released the album Too Dumb for Suicide: Tim Heidecker's Trump Songs.
This week, he rush-released a track online in response to the escalating legislation against abortion in many states throughout the country. (Many musicians have, if not yet rushed songs out about it, weighed in through social media etc. about the issue.) A simple song featuring strummed guitar and a basic verse structure (a good model for those planning to write a song for their final project!), "To the Men" addresses lawmakers who voted for the bills by narrating details of young women in the targeted states.
Hear the song here, and lyrics are here ...
Participation! "To the Men" is about women — but not specific women. Instead Heidecker writes his characters loosely as a kind of composite. Instead of telling an individual tale that names a victim and describes a subjective situation, he broadens the narrative and rounds the characters. How does this tactic contribute to or detract from his messaging? Which of our criteria does it serve, and for whom?
5/28/2019 11:52:49 am
I personally believe that not naming a specific instance really makes the song communal & open & applicable to all cases. This makes it relatable to more people and something people can listen to and find a part that they connect to or that they feel is their story. However, on the flip side, I also believe that not naming a specific instance doesn't really make as much of an impact on a larger audience who may not be able to relate to the song otherwise. If you were to name specific instances and victims then people could get behind other's stories and be sympathetic. Also specific stories tend to pull at heartstrings more and that could get more people behind this song.
5/29/2019 11:30:22 am
Indeed, you've hit on something we've seen and discussed numerous times now — widening the message reaches more people but also dilutes it in the process. It cuts both ways, and the singer/writer of the song must consider which path to take.
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