The 2016 presidential race has afforded many artists and comedians plenty of fodder for their acts. Most entries in the resultant politically-charged subgenre of music are anti-Donald Trump, probably because the embattled mogul never met a licensing agreement. These quickly became concentrated efforts, with Dave Eggers’ 30 Days, 30 Songs project enlisting the aid of El Vy, Franz Ferdinand, and Death Cab For Cutie to blast Trump with sweet tuneage. For her contribution to the project, “Can’t You Tell?,” Aimee Mann’s conceit is that Trump’s in over his head. Now her The Both bandmate, Ted Leo, has released his own anti-Trump track, though he’s taken up with Kickstarter’s Election Issues forum.
Leo’s “In The Mean Times”—though he describes it as “hastily written and recorded one”—is filled with familiar sounds, though it’s the first song he’s written about Trump’s ascent and the circumstances that buoyed it. Protest rock is nothing new for Leo, who recently spoke with The A.V. Club about what comes after and in between those flashes of anger. The sustained tirade extends to Leo’s recent essay, in which he scrutinizes the currently political climate, as well as his own privilege in having a vaunted platform from which to share those ideas.
But going back to square one with Donald Trump and thinking about how he (and his party before him) has twisted the very real concerns of millions of working Americans of all ethnicities (whisper: “economic anxiety”) into a dog whistle the size of a bassoon, and how the entire apparatus invested in electing him President just glibly, daily, elides over it or ignores it completely… I got angry enough to use a curse word in a song again. It’s a song about my own economic anxiety, my anger at the way its been used by the Right, my own white privilege in being able to sit back and think and write a fucking song about this, knowing full well that it’s hitting other people much harder than it’s hitting me.
The song and screed are available at Kickstarter’s Election Issues, which also features an apathy kit for those who have completely missed the point. But if you’d like to tinker with the tracks, Leo’s offering them up for remixing.