While we all have an opinion on certain things, few individuals in recent times have been and are proud to be as outspoken with their views as song-writer David Poe. His latest track “What The President Said” is, as the title suggests, a lyrical ‘tirade’ at Mr. Trump, addressing the fact that so many of his tweets are disrespectful and offensive to the people he’s meant to look out for. While the song and its video continue to gain huge momentum and support from the likes of Jane Fonda, Poe spoke to ThisIsTheLatest about his early ambitions, the upcoming midterm elections and his hopes for more bands and artists to start speaking up about issues that matter.
TITL: First of all, who is David Poe? How would you sum yourself up in a few words?
David Poe: I’m a songwriter.
TITL: Who or what most inspired and encouraged you to get into music? Have you ever had any other career ambitions or has this always been your goal?
DP: All my novels clocked in at three minutes, 30 seconds long. Song-writing was the next obvious choice.
TITL: Your latest track “What The President Said” is considerably outspoken towards a certain Mr. Trump. Why did you decide that now was the right time to write and release it?
DP: I’m against racism and inequality, you see. But not every day can be one of outrage. I recorded the “This is what democracy looks like” chants on my phone at the Women’s March and at the LAX protest against the first, failed Muslim ban. The song was built around the voice of the people. Both song and video are designed to inspire voters as we head towards midterm elections, and beyond.
TITL: Can you recall any of his particular tweets that angered or infuriated you, fuelling your need to write the song?
DP: Where to begin? I came of age in New York City, where he is commonly despised. Couldn’t even carry the vote of his neighbors who lived on the same block. From the pink and gold, Saddam Hussein-inspired decor of his buildings to his forays into fake wrestling to his stint as a game show host, he was the punchline to several jokes. An oaf, but back then, only that.
From the racist opening salvo of his campaign to the revelations provided by Access Hollywood, I was one of those who believed that no self-respecting person could ever vote for him. The complicity of Republican lawmakers in his rise is unlikely to be forgiven.
But if I had to locate the turning point from simple disgust to fear of endangerment, I would have to say the sympathy and false equivalency he expressed towards neo-Nazis after the Charlottesville incident. No person of any conscience will ever spin that comment.
TITL: How did Sister C get involved in the project?
DP: Sister C is one of the finest voices for which I’ve ever had the pleasure to write. Her recorded efforts are rare, so I was fortunate that an artist of her caliber felt moved to contribute to this project. Together, we became a choir.
TITL: How much of an impact do you think, or hope, the song will have in terms of encouraging people to vote in the November midterm elections?
DP: Music is a rallying point unlike any other medium – it travels with us, and confirms our commonality. I hope to hear someone singing it from a voting booth when I head to the polls: “Don’t let ‘em get away with it …”
TITL: The song has already had over 10,000 views on YouTube and been championed by the likes of Paste Magazine and shared by the likes of Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. Did you ever expect it would get the reaction and response it has?
DP: It is humbling when anyone, especially innovators of their pedigree, respond to it. But most of us feel like the song sounds.
TITL: What would be the nicest and best thing someone could or has said about the song?
DP: Some people who attended the Women’s Marches and engaged in the “This is what democracy looks like” chant have said they hear themselves in the song. And they’re right, they can.
TITL: Do you have any upcoming performances planned where fans and those who have had the song brought to their attention can hear it live?
TITL: Given how much attention WTPS is giving you and your career, where do you go from here?
DP: I now have written enough songs to offend an audience of NRA supporters for at least an hour.
TITL: Finally then, do you wish more people, especially bands and artists, and those who have the power to reach an audience of millions with their music and messages, would be bolder in speaking out about things that matter to them, as you have done?
DP: Yes, and I’ve got new songs for them to sing! I’ve got one for Bruno Mars and one for Chance, one for Taylor Swift and Rihanna and P!nk. I’ve got a duet for John Mayer and Frank Ocean, and one for Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand. I’ve got more songs than I can sing myself. I would be grateful for the help of like-minded colleagues.
But what I really wish is that radio, especially indie and public radio, would have the guts to play some of these songs. Perhaps radio and some artists are concerned about alienating their audience. They shouldn’t be. Protest songs are created in the most grand tradition of rock & roll and hip hop.
Imagine if radio had refused to play “Ohio” by CSN&Y after Kent State, or if the band hadn’t recorded it because they were concerned about offending their fan base! The world would be different. But history bore them out, and radio still plays that song, and they play it far more than any current protest songs.
YG & Nipsey Hussle, Milck, A Tribe Called Quest, Fiona Apple and Eminem are a few who have released protest songs. Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers did one with Springsteen. Carole King, Billy Bragg and Chicano Batman have done pertinent covers. I wish every artist would raise their voice, as well as their Twitter accounts, and any artist of note who wants to do so can connect with me there. It’s clearly time for all of us to stand up, with our songs as well as our votes. Don’t be afraid. Art is made to reflect the world, not just to entertain it; artists always point us towards the future.