In one of my first posts I argued that many artists are just inept propagandists: they have an idea they want to defend or promote, they do it poorly and muddle the message; then, art emerges in the process, like a flower from a turd.
The example I gave then was old-ish. But there are more recent examples, for instance in rock music. Take this very good story that was recently published in the Wall Street Journal, in which the writer of the Jefferson Airplane’s signature song, “White Rabbit” (this is the one everyone thinks is called “Go ask Alice”; and I agree that should be the title, anyway) explains how she came up with it:
So Grace Slick wanted to write a song about how she hated that her parents were hypocrites, drinking their liquor “Mad Men”-style while complaining that she was doing drugs. Fine. I do challenge anyone to come up with that conclusion after listening to the actual lyrics; if not for her explanation, I would have never suspected what she meant to say in her (excellent) song.
After all, she gets it herself: “If I had done it right, more people would have been annoyed.” Her failure to comunicate her simple, adolescent fury and to get people upset with her parents gave us art: