Jeffrey Lewis & The Rain: WWPRD
Jeffrey Lewis has made a record asking ‘What Would Pussy Riot Do?’. He wants anyone who does anything creative to think about the consequences of their art, because it has consequences. Sometimes it makes you rich, sometimes it can get you into trouble. So because “inspiration’s still the one resource the 1% can’t buy”, if you have an idea and someone wants it, ask yourself ‘What Would Pussy Riot Do?’
You might think he’s a naive fool. You might think that the music is going to be co-opted into some shonky corporate rubbish as soon as he releases it, turning rebellion into money. You might not like Pussy Riot’s music or their arguments. You might just shrug. Who cares?
Well I care. Not just what he’s saying – that he doesn’t like it when Beck’s music sells cars, or when Best Coast’s music sells booze – but the fact he’s saying it. It’s not about being the first to say it, it’s about keeping on saying it when – let’s face it – it’s a hell of a lot easier not to bother. But the best way to give in is to say ‘pfft, never changes anything.’
So thanks, Jeffrey, I’m glad you’re there.
The Guardian had him do some drawings, giving him different situations where Jeffrey is asked ‘WWPRD?’ They turned the last one on him, and he responded with typical wit.
Oh and the song is great – you probably know what to expect, but if you don’t, it’s exactly what hardcore punk sounds like when played by a folk band. That’s a good thing, by the way, this guy covered 12 Crass songs after all. One of the two other songs on the EP is ‘The Fall of the Soviet Union’, another of Lewis’ fantastic lectures in the style of his amazing ‘The Complete History of Punk Rock and It’s Development On the Lower East Side 1950 – 1975.’ He rewrote all of the songs on Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’ in iambic pentameter, too, and published it as a zine called ‘Sonnet Youth’. I’m not sure there’s anything he can’t do, really.
Here’s a decent-ish clip of Lewis performing ‘WWPRD’ in Cologne.
Go and buy it for £2.49 (digital) from Rough Trade.