Unless you have been living under a rock, whether you are or were a fan of Gangnam Style or not, you have probably at least heard of Korean singer/songwriter Psy. If you didn’t hear about him prior to this weekend you are all the more likely to have heard about him now after recent reports that he wrote and sang an anger charged call for the leveling of American soldiers through lyrics a few years back. A quick Google search on my computer just now brings up at least ten pages alone of headlines and websites discussing his apology, his upcoming gig in DC, or something surrounding this whole debacle.
The performance, which has brought this to light, seems to have occurred in 2004 in which Psy performed a song (Dear American) composed by Korean rock band N.E.X.T that included obscenities, name-calling of Americans, and even the call for their killing. I am saddened at this, deeply, and I hope you are as well. I am not surprised however at this, and while it makes me angry as well, I think that in looking at this at face value we have to start by taking a deep breath before we respond. Why? Because if we respond immediately we will likely respond in the same reptilian manner that N.E.X.T and Psy did.
What was your first and immediate response to the news, the video if you watched it, or reading all of the angry responses that are already out there? Let me ask you, and ask yourself; was it much better than his response through song and dance? Even as I heard about this news, my first response was to fire something off on the interwebs. I resisted, not because I am any better, but because I know all too well of my own responses when I act quickly and without some important first steps.
In many ways, I am thankful that this has come to mass media attention though, because this kind of issue is an important issue for everyone. Dealing with anger, rage, and the experience of injustice, violence, even evil or wickedness- whatever you choose to call it is a necessity, but as you have seen here, it is important for musicians and artists in a far-reaching way. So Intend to chew on this for the next week or so (stay tuned and follow for more discussion), and I do hope that you will pick up a copy of Tuned In as soon as it is available, because I have devoted an entire chapter to dealing with these kinds of responses in the book.
The truth is that we all write emotively. The question is; how will we write when we are angry? Will we warmonger with our songs? Will we write for war or peace? Hungering for justice is a good thing. I would even suggest that anger itself can be an incredibly good thing, and we will discuss why; but what we do with it may not be good at all.