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Song Premiere: "Rebel Mama Blues" by The Pinkerton Raid

The Pinkerton Raid
21 October 2020

The Pinkerton Raid – Photo Credit: Nic Lauretano

The Pinkerton Raid’s “Rebel Mama Blues” is a satirical slow-burner with a Bowie-meets-Black Keys feel—a blast of zeitgeist-capturing political garage-psych that explores how a whole generation of white hippie-boomer parents were unconsciously primed for late-life Fox News brainwashing by 1960s anti-authoritarian individualism.

When the Durham, N.C., band’s singer and guitarist Jesse James DeConto wrote the song—premiering exclusively today at The Big Takeover—he’d been meditating on how a steady diet of Right-wing propaganda has strained intergenerational family relationships for him and so many of his friends.

“I always thought of my parents’ generation as these hippies who stood up to The Man,” DeConto says. “Then when all the post-mortems came out after the 2016 election, it was clear that the hippies, the boomers, were the ones who chose Donald Trump. They thought of him as some kind of rebel because he didn’t have political experience, and he was supposed to be this outsider who would ‘drain the swamp.’ None of that ever made any sense to me. They gave the power of the presidency over to a bully—the opposite of a rebel, the guy who beats up on rebels. And that’s exactly what happened when he sent federal agents and soldiers to intimidate Black Lives Matter protesters.”

For years now, DeConto and his mother have been “tiptoeing around the elephants—and donkeys—in the room.” The song isn’t specifically about her, though the two have certainly had their share of political disagreements over the years.

“It’s not intended as personal criticism,” DeConto explains. “I think what’s happened with my Mom is part of something bigger, and that’s what I’m interested in. It’s unprecedented—we’re having family conflicts I’ve never seen in my lifetime. The first time I noticed was 15 or 20 years ago with my grandmother. I think 9/11 stoked a general xenophobia, and we saw anti-immigrant rhetoric begin to take hold. Since then, FOX has been a propaganda machine, convincing masses of white conservative Christians they’re being threatened, persecuted or replaced.”

“It plays into the natural fears of aging people—that they can’t keep up with cultural changes; that their kids and grandkids are moving away from them physically, psychologically, spiritually and politically; that they’re being left behind or pushed aside. By the end of her life, my grandmother was angry about all these distant political matters that had very little to do with her life. It was like she’d become a different person on a steady diet of Fox News.”

With the boomers having lived through Vietnam, Watergate, Iran contra, the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis, and now a brutal pandemic, “Rebel Mama Blues”—while scathing in its condemnation—is also sympathetic. For their generation, DeConto says, “there’s “a fundamental distrust of those in power. It’s barely about policy differences—it’s a crisis of authority and trust. I think it speaks to the depth of anger at the ruling class, an anger that has become unmoored from reality and has voted against its own self-interest. So Trump comes along and amplifies that mistrust for his own aggrandizement.”

Wrapping up his thoughts on The Pinkerton Raid’s politically charged new single—a track sonically anchored by pounding drums, impassioned vocals, and some blistering Fender Mustang leads—DeConto condemns authoritarianism and stresses the importance of compromise.

“It takes so much time and energy to clear away the propaganda, distractions, and alternative facts, that everybody’s nerves are frayed by the time we get around to having a real conversation. But there’s still common ground to be found. Politics is compromise, and that often means voting for the lesser evil. But electing a ‘strongman’ is a rejection of the compromise of democracy.”

pinkertonraid · Rebel Mama Blues

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