The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

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Andrew Combs, ‘Bourgeois King’

Apr 21, 2017

In the wake of the presidential election, everyone is busy trying to put together the puzzle pieces that will make sense of this terrible mess. Pundits are scrambling, academics studying, mouthpieces screaming on Twitter from both sides of the aisle about who exactly is to blame. As constructive as some of this is, it all starts to feel like noise in the same chorus that got us here to begin with: the volume is high, but the content low. How do we climb out of this echoing cave?

Like the way humor has been able to shine an uncanny light on the political climate, music is a crucial piece of our healing: It helps us understand and synthesize the world around us, and use the power of forceful instrumentals or passionate lyrics to find cracks in our unstable reality. One of the best to come out of the 2016 election has been Andrew Combs’ “Bourgeois King,” off of his third LP, Canyons of My Mind. Written before Trump became president, it reflects on the cacophony of events that led to him assuming the throne and transmits the fear and anger of what’s to come. “Parasites and politicians, intertwined and holding hands,” he sings. “Feed us fiction, fabrication, make this country great again.” There’s something about Combs’ portrait of a spoiled royal seizing power through venomous slogans that says more than 30 think-pieces, especially when paired with the fury of piano and strings that surround the howl of his deep and tender vocals. There may be no savior or salve to this heal this moment, but songs like “Bourgeois King” grab us by the shoulders and rattle us deep — they can’t change the past, but they can influence our future.  

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