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Wednesday, November 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 14.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Another round of songs inspired by Walkermania
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Last week, I provided a sample ballot of local protest songs specific to the Scott Walker era. Perhaps you're curious what else is out there. Or perhaps you just need some music to clear your head after Arthur Kohl-Riggs gave you his annoyingly rapid and complicated spiel about why you should sign that petition to put him on the Republican primary ballot.

Here are a few more write-in candidates in the running for best, most earnest, or craziest protest song of the recall period.


Making some noise
Disco group V05's song "Cheddar Revolution" shares its title with an album that compiles anti-Walker tracks from both local artists and out-of-town ones, like Milwaukee noise-rockers IfIHadAHiFi's "Imperial Walker."

You wouldn't want V05 to be too serious or heavyweight, but their take on the issues, complete with tongue-twisting chants of Wisconsin city names, isn't quite the satisfying dash of humor this whole affair needs. Considering it's a playful disco song, it's actually a bit didactic.

For quick, comic singing on current events, no one has bested Peter Leidy, the east sider you may have seen tackling the news in parodies on Wisconsin Public Television. He's made one of the few really unpredictable gestures in recall-mania music, turning Warren Zevon's demented "Excitable Boy" into the Walker Chronicle "Indictable Boy." (Watch a photo montage set to the song.)

Some Madison musicians haven't even had to create songs to take part in the debate, instead walking into some unintentional comedy. Singer and guitarist Matt Joyce of The Midwest Beat was mistaken for a she by none other than Fox News anchor Meghyn Kelly, as Joyce waved a handwritten sign behind reporter Mike Tobin. Joyce bashfully hid the sign whenever Tobin turned around, which wasn't quite as silly as Kelly's claim that protesters "assaulted" Tobin in an angry moment.

Inventive solo artist Julian Lynch also became a victim of gender confusion when he tweeted at Gov. Walker to ask what he liked to eat for lunch. He was rewarded with a video in which Walker referred to Lynch as female and earnestly claimed to have lunched on two ham-and-cheese sandwiches just about every day for 20 years -- the most compelling evidence yet that he just ain't human.


The loyalist
Lefties aren't the only ones feeling the power of song. Waukesha County's Glen Shulfer shares his love of guitars and his disdain for unions and occupiers via songs posted on his YouTube account. His most sensational hit is "Stand With Governor Walker," a lusty ballad proclaiming that Walker is "standing 10 feet tall from Ashland to Monroe." Except for a swipe at the unions, the song remarkably avoids the distinct tinge of bitterness and resentment that tends to characterize far-right rhetoric, meshing well with its shiny piano chords and Shulfer's demanding vocal performance.

The tune captures a strange characteristic of today's conservatives, in that its suspicion of government and its employees never diminishes its capacity for political hero worship. The only misstep comes in the YouTube montage accompanying the track, namely at 0:25. Why would he liken Gov. Walker to a lion tamer who's not only clearly in over his head but also wearing a dress?


Wishful thinking
In all fairness to Shulfer, he's not the only Wisconsin musician simpering at a politician's feet, and at least his choice is actually a candidate. In my first look at these protest songs, I mentioned Annelies Howell's contributions to the band Centime's Occupied EP. Her bandmate Sean Michael Dargan wrote two songs on the EP, wrapping it up with "Governor Feingold."

Perhaps Dargan's repeated lyric, "Governor Feingold, Wisconsin needs you" (that's all the lyrics, except for the occasional shout of "now!"), will shake Russ from his current role as author and head of a nonprofit that posts a lot of stuff about campaign finance on the Internet.

Since Dargan's known to be handy on the bagpipes, why settle for channeling political statements through friendly guitar-pop? An early-morning impromptu piping on our beloved ex-senator's lawn would make him cave for sure.


Out-of-state money
It'd be remiss to think of Walker-era music as entirely Wisconsin-grown. After all, the Cheddar Revolution compilation was partially supported by a donation from Ani DiFranco, and it includes Mekons member Jon Langford singing "Plenty Tough and Union Made." It will be celebrated with a release party at the High Noon Saloon on Sunday, May 6.

Billy Bragg, who's due to celebrate Woody Guthrie's birthday with a July 10 show at the Barrymore Theatre, showed his support of Wisconsin's unions on Facebook, posting a link to Rachel Maddow's explanation of anti-public-employee politics and Wisconsin's prominent role in labor history. Bragg's history of keeping pro-labor songs alive in turn inspired the quick-turnaround cover tributes from Ted Leo and The Mountain Goats.

Other national musicians who either showed up to sing at the Capitol or otherwise voiced their support are easy to lose track of. They included Tom Morello (switching from effect-hacking-ripper mode to that acoustic protest thing he does now) and Steve Earle.

If you're not exhausted yet, cram down another ham sandwich and hear still more via a protest song roundup compiled by Defend Wisconsin.

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