Ronald Wilson Reagan
With the recent passing of the "great communicator" Ronald Reagan, the press has been concentrating on his influence and achievements in the world of politics. No, this isn't going to be a political commentary, I would just like to touch on something that most people have forgotten: the influences of Ronald Reagan that affected music, mainly the punk/hardcore scene of the '80s. We aren't going to discuss whether or not you believe that Ronald Reagan was a political messiah or the devil incarnate. That is for the unbiased historians of 50+ years in the future to get right.
Once in concert, the vocalist for D.O.A. asked the audience,
This pretty much hits the nail on the head. Punk feeds on anger and aggression. Look at the English punks of the '70s - they had the massive unemployment of the U.K., sparking the Sex Pistols to utter the immortal "no future". But what did the American punks of the '80s have to complain about or protest? I tell you what…Ronald Reagan. By sheer force of personality, Reagan gave the punks of the '80s something to sing about. Can you imagine what they would have sung about had Carter been re-elected in 1980 or Mondale in 1984? That is some pretty lame material. I'm not saying that punk/hardcore would have died out without Reagan, but it pretty much single-handedly kept the ball rolling for a few more years.
To Ronald Reagan's credit we owe classic songs by bands such as Reagan Youth, Bad Religion, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, The Minutemen, and countless others. So, politics notwithstanding, Reagan did one great thing for music: he brought the punk underground together against a "common enemy". So, the next time you hear that '80s hardcore/punk song - you can know who to thank: Ronald Wilson Reagan. The father of American hardcore/punk.
P.S. One last thought…both REM and Ronald Reagan prospered in the '80s. Only Ronald Reagan knew when to give it up and call it quits!