Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin may have a PhD in zoology, but he could have easily pursued philosophy, instead. Lucky for us – or unlucky, if you happen to disagree with him – Graffin decided to keep his academic life focused in earth sciences so his ethical theses could remain publicly broadcast through his 34-year-old punk band. True North is no exception to the rule – Graffin continues lecturing from the mic on the nature of right and wrong, as well as religion’s role in the whole mess. Socio-political punk activists are nothing new, but when one has letters after his name and teaches at Cornell, you pay attention. Here’s a look at the True North’s five most conscientious lyrics, in all their punkish, foul-mouthed and harmonized glory.
Graffin is dumbfounded by popular culture today, but he has some hope for tomorrow. It’s a skeptical hope, though, and rightfully so – some of today’s icons and consumers resemble the intellectual levels seen in Idiocracy. After all, one can’t find a better fan for “stupid hoes” like Nicki Minaj than a sofa-toilet owner (seriously, what is her appeal?). On top of smart guys, nice guys also finish last in today’s world, according to Graffin. While it’s a bleak outlook, remember that the “past is dead,” and that the present will die as well: [LISTEN]
Who can say what constitutes the most important sector of society?
The dominant portion seek an instant gratification
And are proud of intellectual poverty
Now the past is dead
Good deeds won’t help you get ahead
The modern signpost read the past is dead
Mitt Romney may be out of the political landscape, but that doesn’t mean these guys plan on giving him a break. After calling him out blatantly on his infamous “corporations are people” remark, Graffin extends his barbs to the financial hedonists that played a role in the 2008 collapse to a perceived steal-from-the-poor-and-give-to-the-rich strategy imposed by related political players. The chorus even tosses a satirical jab at the current republican obsession with Ayn Rand and Jesus Christ, two masters who couldn’t be more incompatible; All of this wrapped neatly in three-minutes of sing-along punk: [LISTEN]
Here is the church
There is the steeple
Open up the door
Corporations are people
Wait what did he say?
What the fuck did he say?
While Graffin obviously has issues with pop culture, religion and politics, he still acknowledges those who disagree. There’s an old saying: “no one thinks that they are evil,” but the reality is more extreme – outside of movie characters, everyone is convinced that their convictions are actually noble. We’re all the knights-in-shining-armor of our own life-movies, and know that we are upstanding – reverse-Robin Hoods notwithstanding. His point: your enemy, who lives by a different ancient book than you do, is just as passionate that he is virtuous and you are evil: [LISTEN]
Everybody knows what’s in their heart is right
Graffin’s lifelong obsession with science has turned into a borderline religion – he describes his “Naturalism” as a belief system of its own. While “Crisis” throws a couple dissatisfied references to our environment’s corporate pillaging and our silver spoon economy, the best take-away lyric is the warning that in any debate, logic is king. On the other hand, appeals to emotion, like an oil-soaked pelican, are unethically distracting gimmicks. Perhaps we need more “naturalist” politicians: [LISTEN]
When the wheel of fortune turns progressively depraved
It’s the manifestation of a biospheric decay
Luxury was privilege and I knew it all along
But to let human reason get trumped by emotion is wrong
An even worse substitute for fact is “popular consensus” – your parents called it the “jump off a bridge” mentality. Even if everyone you know does or believes in something, that doesn’t make it right. Again, Graffin’s target is religion, and here’s his point: does this giant Muslim congregation, uniformly praying in all the same direction, look silly to you? Do the passion and numbers make you nervous, as if they are dangerous? That’s how Graffin sees all religion. Re-enter my Nicki Minaj rage - forever trivial, despite “popular consensus:” [LISTEN]
Some people are almost impossible to live with
Some people have faith in the craziest things
They follow outdated conventions that were recorded
But most of it to me all sounds insane
Maybe that’s what you need to get you through the night
Maybe you’ve seen the light
But you know that popular consensus doesn’t make it right