Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
As if the Tea Party’s rallies didn’t irk liberals enough already, this week WNYC’s Studio 360 learned that the movement is cornering another market traditionally held by the left: protest songs.
Meet Chris Cassone, a right-wing Woody Guthrie. It was Friday the 13th in March of 2009 when he witnessed Glenn Beck’s infamous, bleary-eyed appeal on Fox News to “be that person you were on the day after 9/11.” Cassone happened to have a guitar handy, and what he saw must have had its intended effect. In the middle of the show, he started singing to his television. His lyrics were about taking his country back. A few more conservative anthems later, Cassone found himself performing at Tea Party rallies across the nation. At 60 years old, it’s the most politically active he’s ever been.
Then there’s MC Hi-Caliber. As far as music genres go, you don’t get more niche than conservative hip-hop, but that might be changing: Hi-Caliber has found an audience—and a voice—in the Tea Party. Also inspired by Glenn Beck, the New Jersey-based rapper focused his lyrics around the conservative cause, and now regularly appears at 9/12 Project and Tea Party events.
Listen to the rest of the story to find out more about the rhyme and rhetoric of the Tea Party’s troubadours. Also, be sure to tell Studio 360 which songs have inspired you politically.
(Thanks to Derek John, who produced this piece for Studio 360!)