Nationalist music is then described and elaborated through examples, drawing from a wide range of national identities. Brown then turns to labor music by focusing on the legend of Joe Hill. Movement and non-movement related political music is then explored and compared, including the music associated with the Vietnam War. Finally, the political content of hip-hop is examined. Never before has a book covered such a broad spectrum of political music – a timely publication given the exponential growth of contemporary political music.
Courtney Brown’s book discusses the political content of music over the past 200 years, from the classical to the hip-hop genres and everything in between. Beginning with Beethoven, Brown describes how Beethoven’s music has been used to support a wide variety of political views across the entire ideological spectrum, both during Beethoven’s life and long after. Then a provocative comparison of Bob Marley’s music and Richard Wagner’s “Ring” operas identifies striking similarities between the political ideas of these two composers relating to the idea of revolution.