10 Songs to Soundtrack the Federal Government Shutdown


Well, because a bunch of allegedly grown adults are having a pissing match in Washington, we are officially living through the first federal government shutdown since… well, the last time a Republican-controlled House threw its toys out of the stroller, back in 1995. Some 800,000 federal workers are officially stuck at home without pay, and the entire world is looking at the US and wondering what the actual fuck is going on. But rejoice! Because if nothing else, we’ve got an official soundtrack for you. Here are ten songs to play on repeat until this whole silly business gets resolved.

The Clash — “Remote Control”

“Who needs the parliament?” It looks like we’re about to find out.

Leonard Cohen — “Democracy”

It’s probably worth noting here that there is no mandate for what is happening on Capitol Hill right now. Whatever your opinion on Obamacare, the US electorate has twice voted for a president whose policies the House is now obstructing in defiance of the express wishes of the majority of the American people. “It’s coming to America first/ The cradle of the best and the worst.” Indeed.

Frank Zappa — “Dumb All Over”

Yeah, it’s really about religion, but nevertheless, its lyrical demolition job on idiot partisanship seems pretty appropriate right about now.

Patti Smith — “People Have the Power”

Patti at her most bombastic and utopian. “People have the power to dream, to rule/ To wrestle the world from fools”? If only that were the case.

Dead Kennedys — “Government Flu”

Hey, maybe it’s just that 800,000 people called in sick?! (Also, the “Why are you such a stupid asshole?” intro rather echoes the question on everyone’s lips this morning.)

Gil Scott-Heron — “Whitey On the Moon”

Way back in 1970, when he was still an angry young poet, Gil Scott-Heron penned this lyric about the skewed priorities of federal government spending, complaining that “I can’t pay no doctor bill/ Ten years from now I’ll be paying still,” while meanwhile huge amounts of money were devoted to the space program. Some 33 years later, we live in a country where the military budget is some $683 billion, but we’re facing a government shutdown over the sort of universal health care program that exists in most other developed countries. Plus ça change, etc.

Dr. John — “Somebody Changed the Lock”

And closed the door, and turned out the light, and etc.

The Specials — “Ghost Town”

This haunting dub classic from the Specials was inspired by the decline of their hometown of Coventry, but it’s gonna describe an awful lot of places if this whole silly situation doesn’t get sorted quickly. (Also, check out Kode9 and the Spaceape’s ultra-minimalist cover version from a few years back.)

Jarvis Cocker — “Running the World”

We look forward to the special, re-recorded 2013 version: “Cunts are still running the Republican Party.”

Public Enemy — “Brothers Gonna Work It Out”

Well, fingers crossed, eh?