There used to be an old saying about how you should never talk about politics or religion in friendly conversation, because those are the topics guaranteed to make any interaction decidedly un-friendly. However, in the past few years, it’s been seemingly impossible to avoid the most pressing social issues of the day, even in traditional sanctuaries like sports and pop culture. In music, artists are increasingly putting politics at the forefront of their songs, forcing listeners to choose a side.
For this episode, I wanted to explore whether it’s still possible for people who disagree ideologically to come together as music fans and geek out over a shared love of particular songs and albums. I also wanted to delve into a question I’ve long found fascinating: Given that pop music generally is dominated by liberal-minded artists, how do conservatives put that aside and enjoy the music?
I figured a good person to discuss this was Jeff Blehar, host of the Political Beats podcast, which features journalists and pundits from the left and right expounding on their favorite artists, including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and National Journal‘s Charles C.W. Cooke. A “Never Trump” conservative, Blehar regularly listens to bands who don’t adhere to his personal viewpoints, including Radiohead and the Clash. Given the struggles that liberals have had in 2018 reconciling Kanye West’s apparent support of Donald Trump, is it really possible to “separate the art from the artist” in terms of politics? It’s a hard question, and Blehar and I had a great conversation trying to figure it out.