Citizens United is a compilation album that features bands and artists from Australia, United States and the United Kingdom. I am the pivot for this project because all the artists featured are my friends and I pulled the album together.
The inspiration for the album came from emails from my LA based screen writer friend Dave Gebhardt who was driving back and forth from LA to Albuquerque in mid 2012 to visit his mother who was dying of cancer in a hospice there. His meditations on the declining state of American politics, corporate consumer culture, war and American history, love and connection, the Beatles, the aching beauty of the desert landscape, and the death of a loved one were profoundly moving. I suggested we work on a project that captured some of these feeling and ideas, and the result several months later – with a little help from our friends – is Citizens United
It is a diverse album both musically and emotionally. Citizens spans Velvet Underground drone pop, Beatles-esque tunes, glam-rock, folk-rock, achingly beautiful cinematic soundscapes, to poignant and darkly funny spoken word meditations on death and American culture.
The title is a reference to the 2010 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission ruling by the United States Supreme Court, which effectively removed restrictions on corporations donating unlimited sums to politicians and governments. The ruling has been highly divisive in American society, and spawned a national grassroots movements to change the constitution to make it clear that “corporations are not people”. Its a massive undertaking, but more and more State legislatures, starting with Montana are passing resolutions in support of this movement, to try and stem the tide of political corruption, demolition of democracy and concentration of corporate power on a scale not seen since the 1890s ‘robber baron’ oil trusts
Calling the album ‘Citizens United’ is a way of acknowledging this current USA political struggle (which will have implications around the globe), on a scale and importance of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements of the 60s. But also ‘reclaiming’ the term as what it should really mean, which is about people – in our case artists – joining together to be good citizens helping each other and supporting democratic ideals and practices.