Art is often shaped for the time period it is released in. Throughout history, artists will notice a problem in the world, motivating them to create something that will display this turmoil or maybe present a solution. We’ve seen this in paintings, movies, books, and of course, music. Although, despite its common usage, this motivation for songwriting is one that continues to work well—even today—because these songs are exactly what listeners need when they’re released. Sure, in the future, these types of songs might seem strange, but if they’re strong enough, their strength will overcome time itself and remain relevant for a long time.
One example of this musical archetype is “Stand Down,” a single recently released by Morrissey & Marshall. A London-based duo, Greg Marshall and Darren Morrissey came together during one of Morrissey’s concerts. He was playing with his former band when Marshall climbed onto the stage to join Morrissey in song. The pair from Dublin clicked immediately and their rock and roll journey together began. Since teaming up, the duo has played with and without a full band, touring with artists like The Magic Numbers, Damien Dempsey, and Sinéad O’Connor.
One might notice this duo’s recent tracks have been focused on fear of authority and breaking away from said fear. This is true of both their November 2015 release “Cold November Sunrise” and “Stand Down.” When describing the latter’s motivations, the duo writes, “Lyrically, the song is inspired by those poor unfortunates (usually politicians) who tend to stop at nothing when striving for success…They will lie, mislead, instill fear and do whatever it takes to get people on their side, without any true regard for the people. This song sparks the idea that there will eventually come a time when we’ll come together, rise above them, and use truth and honesty to start fixing all of the things that need to be fixed.”
Basically, this song is perfect for the 2016 Presidential Election, as well as politics in general. Because candidates want a multitude of votes, they typically twist their words around and get people scared so they can win. The main problem with this is that it’s simply for their personal desires. I don’t agree with this bandwagon method, but I do agree with Morrissey & Marshall’s intent, that the people should unite and solve our problems civilly. No problems will be solved if these politicians continue making promises they can’t keep, merely steering events in their favor.
The song has a great motivation and message behind it, but how does it sound? Honestly, it reminds me of 80’s rock and roll because of just how strange the song sounds. Even the title produces questions—I’ve heard “stand up” before, but “stand down” almost seems like surrender. From the beginning keys, this track has a whimsical nature to it reminiscent of the lies these politicians want you to believe. It sounds nice and dream-like, but none of it is the truth. The vocals and lyrics are slow and drawn out, which enhances this dream state, speeding up only during the chorus. There are many smartly-written lines such as “There is another place in time/When we rise/We rise/Using our true minds and realize.” My favorite part is toward the end where amongst the music and cries of “Stand down,” one of the vocalists yells lines like “There is no point in trying.” He seems to be telling the politicians to give up, which causes the title to make much more sense. The liars should give up because the people will inevitably overcome them, judging the world for themselves.
It’s a great song with amazing lyrics and instrumentals, but I would also encourage people to check out the single’s music video, if only because the politician is played by a child wearing a suit, one who yells and screams at several adults. This imagery is genius because like how children typically want their way, there are many politicians who act similarly, some even resorting to name-calling when someone points out a flaw in their campaign. However, the adults eventually walk away, reducing the child to near-tears as they move on, dancing and singing alongside the band. This song is definitely needed now and I have a feeling it will remain relevant for years, at least until people learn to think on their own. Everyone should check it out, simply because it transcends audiences, and I hope many check it out before Election Day, if only to make a wise decision.