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The Top 10: Conservative Pop Songs

·3-min read
Hope you guess my name: Sir Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones (PA Archive)
Hope you guess my name: Sir Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones (PA Archive)

This list was just an excuse to start several arguments, including ones about the definition of “conservative”, when poses become ironic, and why there is a “No Beatles” rule in my Top 10s. Anyway, here we go.

1. “I Fought The Law”, The Crickets, 1960. (Some people prefer the version by The Clash, 1979.) “Pro law and order,” said Conor Downey, Whitstable Stevie and Steven Fogel.

2. “Ballad of the Green Berets”, Barry Sadler, 1966. Counter-counterculture hit in the US at the time of Vietnam war protests. Thanks to John Peters and Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Pink Dress.

3. “Sympathy for the Devil”, The Rolling Stones, 1968. Excellent nomination from Amanda Graham.

4. “Okie from Muskogee”, Merle Haggard, 1969. Such an anti-hippie tirade that several bands covered it as a spoof. Nominated by John Peters, Tamara, Chris Smith, Graham Fildes, Ben Milne and Conor Downey.

5. “Sunny Afternoon”, The Kinks, 1966. “The tax man’s taken all my dough…” Nominated by Steven Fogel and Wario Argento, although Paul T Horgan said that the song is not sympathetic to the aristocratic narrator.

6. “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, The Who, 1971. Anti-revolutionary song that ends with the couplet: “Meet the new boss/ Same as the old boss.” Thanks to Tom Doran, John Hall and Nigel Morris.

7. “Part of the Union”, Strawbs, 1973. Not entirely serious, but definitely anti-union. Nominated by Nigel Morris, James Burton and Paul Stockton.

8. “Sweet Home Alabama”, Lynyrd Skynryd, 1974. A response to Neil Young’s songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama”, which the band felt did down the South. Nominated by P D Anderson, Alasdair McGowan and Sandy Rush. Lynyrd Skynyrd also recorded an album called God & Guns, 2009, said Nigel Morris.

9. “The Trees”, Rush, 1979. Libertarian nonsense-parable nominated by Nigel Morris, Thomas Joseph and John Duncan.

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10. “No More Lockdown”, Van Morrison, 2020. “A disgrace,” said Steven Fogel, who also dislikes “Stand and Deliver” by Morrison’s anti-lockdown ally Eric Clapton.

Two nominations were ruled out of order on grounds that they were sarcastic: “I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher”, the Notsensibles, 1979; and “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)”, Pet Shop Boys, 1985.

Don Macintyre, John Nicolson and Cole Davis nominated “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down”, The Band, 1969, but that it was covered by the very non-conservative Joan Baez in 1971 should be a clue to its ideology. It is the lament of a poor southerner for the ravages of the American Civil War rather than a Confederate anthem.

Several songs about sex roles – “Stand By Your Man”, Tammy Wynette; “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”, James Brown; “I’ve Never Been to Me”, Charlene – have been left quietly to one side.

Next week: Leaders who have left their parties, after Arlene Foster left the Democratic Unionist Party.

Coming soon: Oddly named railway stations, current or past, such as Whatstandwell in Derbyshire and Wait-A-Bit in Jamaica.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to

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