Beer, Politics, and Rock & Roll
Flogging Molly: Within an Election of Home
In two days, the United States will elect a whole new slate of leaders. The context of the election is the man who’s not on the ballot, the President, and whose presence has been described by foes and friends as unprecedented. This election, politicos tell us, is one of the most important in our lifetimes. Everything about the political moment feels totally new.
That’s why a 14-year-old unpublished article by Brian Yaeger is such an amazing found document. Brian was in the pre-beer phase of his career as a music writer and was at the time the editor of a short-lived (and apparently little-mourned) magazine. He’d just done a feature on Flogging Molly, but the magazine folded and it would never run. Written in October 2004, just before the re-election of George W Bush, it is soaked in politics. Flogging Molly’s ex-pat Irish frontman Dave King’s attention is trained far more sharply on the election than anything musical. What’s remarkable about the piece is how closely the themes track to the current moment. I mean, change one name and this could have appeared in an article yesterday:
"I’m not eligible to vote in this election. You see, I love America. America to me is the most amazing country. I have so much at stake in this country. But when I think about George W. Bush, maybe it’s because I’m from another country, but I see him as a world leader. America in some respects used to be (a place) everybody looked up to. In the sense that, ‘That’s where I wanna go. That’s where I want to fulfill my dreams.’ But when somebody like George W. Bush comes around, that makes me want to go back home to Ireland. That’s not the America that I love. This man has totally alienated this country from the rest of the world."
There’s a lot more, including how politics inspired some of the bands bigger hits. And the politics continue to be prescient throughout, including a comment King makes about suppression of the college vote—a big theme in 2018.
Brian published this on Kindle on Friday, and he includes an earlier, published piece he did with the band in 2002, as well as a new introduction. It’s not really about beer, though in the course of affairs, great volumes of Guinness and Jameson’s disappear down experienced throats.
I make no claims of objectivity here. Brian’s a friend, and I encouraged him to try to monetize this rather than just throw it up on his blog. It’s a more precious document than most we have rattling around our hard drives (or brains), an irreproduceable one-off perfectly timed for the moment. Writers are trying to figure out a way to make a living in an era where readers expect things to be free. Well, a buck basically is free. This is a ghost from the past that tells us more about the present than a dozen explainer posts on Vox, and Brian deserves to earn a few shekels for his trouble. Go buy it (and even better to do so before the election).