The Clash and Musical Artistry: Against the Corporate Voice

Arden Henley
Friday 25 November 2022

Coon, Caroline. In Working for the Clampdown: The Clash, the Dawn of Neoliberalism and the Political Promise of Punk, edited by Colin Coulter, 52-68. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2019.

This article, originally a speech made by Caroline Coon, examines the power art has to influence popular opinion and politics. Taking 1970s British punk band The Clash as a case study, the article uses anecdotes to explain the author’s belief that there is great power in art, and that love and joy contribute much more than vitriol or profit-motive in crafting an effective political song and affecting the music industry. Coon argues that art can change and shape politics and details precisely how. With this knowledge in mind, we can conceptualize how to gear artistic industries like music toward peace and political peacemaking.

The speech aptly points out the relationship between art and joy, and between joyful art and politics. Art which is linked with joy–music we can dance to, songs we want to sing–gains much more traction, at least in the pop cultural sphere, than art which is inherently dour and demoralizing. Political art which is also joyful therefore gains the platform it needs to make observations and, in some cases, to change minds. Art which is motivated by the joy of making art, sharing it, and changing things for the better has much more emotional resonance than art which is motivated by the desire for fame or profit. We can learn from Coon’s arguments and experience in the industry and work toward creating joyful art which advocates for peace.


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