During the height of his Reformation battles, Martin Luther reportedly said, “Here I stand; I can do no other.”
With slightly lower stakes and sometimes lesser motivations, popular musicians have turned their songs into the same kind of statements. These songs declare in four minutes why the artist has made the kind of life choices that have gained notoriety outside the recording studio.
So here they are: my five favorite Statement Songs of them all.
5. The Beatles, The Ballad Of John and Yoko. Why did John marry her? Did she really break up the most influential band of them all? The song will tell you all you need to know. Or not.
4. The Rolling Stones, Respectable. It was the late 70s, Canada’s prime minister married well over his head, and she in turn partied with the Rolling Stones. So how did the band respond to the negative publicity? Tongue in cheek, of course.
3. Don Henley, Nobody’s Business. Just after the Eagles’ first breakup in 1980, Henley was mired in controversy surrounding a party, some cocaine, and a girl. Did he offer a mea culpa? Yeah, right.
2. John Mellencamp, Small Town. Why does Mellencamp have that potent blend of nostalgia and vitriol? Was it nature or nurture? This song suggests the latter.
1. The Dixie Chicks, I’m Not Ready To Make Nice. When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, the Dixie Chicks were touring in Great Britain and native Texan Natalie Mains said this onstage: “…we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” The country music establishment responded by forcing the Dixie Chicks into exile. But if you know anything about biblical history, you know exile produces great art. Biblical or not, this is some of the best.