Ted Leo Releases "In The Mean Times," Political Track for Kickstarter's "Election Issues" Project

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It’s an exceptional election year, so it’s fitting that artists are coming out in exceptional numbers to provide musical commentary on these events. Singer-songwriter Ted Leo says that he’s been holding off because of the overwhelming noise in the 2016 campaigns.

Until now. Today, Leo releases “In The Mean Times,” an upbeat rock track that’s both angry and optimistically resolute. Leo describes his ambitions thus:

It’s a song about my own economic anxiety, my anger at the way its been used by the Right, my own white privilege in being able to sit back and think and write a fucking song about this, knowing full well that it’s hitting other people much harder than it’s hitting me; my desire to gather close to the people that I love and to tell those who feel personally under attack by these politics of divisiveness that I love them especially right now, that everyone who’s been pushing back is an inspiration to me, and that I hope we all come through this together and ready to keep fighting after November 9, because this work will continue.

Leo’s premiering “In The Mean Times” through the Kickstarter project “Election Issues,” which, unlike the Kickstarter format with which most of us are familiar, is a collection of free resources that are meant to be a creative outlet in these frustrating times. According to the project description, it’s “inspired by the idea that interacting with political issues in creative ways—reading, writing, dancing, singing, drawing, and more—can encourage profound reflection.”

Although countless musicians use the Kickstarter platform to fundraise for their music, this is the first time that Kickstarter has invited a musician to contribute to one of its own activities.

Inspired yet? Leo enabled a free download of not only the track but also of its constituent parts, so that folks can use the building blocks to make their own songs if they wish. If you’ve been looking to get out your political anger via a musical channel, here’s your opportunity.

Listen to the track via the Paste Cloud below, or download it for free here, and read the lyrics of “In The Mean Times” beneath that. Check out the rest of Kickstarter’s Election Issues creations (they’ll release new ones until the election on Nov. 8) here.

“In The Mean Times”

It’s been a long long year
Just trying to maintain
We’re up and down this hill
I’m trying to remain
A sinner being sincere
A human being humane
I get exhausted ‘til
I get pissed off again

I know the healthcare costs
I know the GDP
I half-believe in luck
I know there ain’t no “free”
But I see the wealth that’s lost
On this society
And I see these motherfuckers
Tryin’ to gaslight me

I’ve got my four cards paying
I ain’t naive or dumb
I can’t afford the fees
Ah, and to keep me sane
I can’t afford to see
I pay the minimum
So they don’t email me

Ooh, in the lean times
You lean upon me, friend
Ooh, in the mean times
We’ll push against that trend
The arc is ours to bend
This isn’t where it ends

Who owns anxiety
And who is put-upon?
Anxiety is baked
Into the ground we’re on
But what they feed that tree
Is just a racist con
We’ve got some ground to make
I’m pulling my boots on

Ooh, in the lean times
You lean upon me, friend
Ooh, in the mean times
We’ll push against that trend
Ooh, in the lean times
You’re gonna need a friend
Ooh, in the mean times
We’re gonna buck that trend
The arc is ours to bend
It’s never where it ends

Sometimes on Saturday
I walk the avenue
I live under the hedge
Ah, but my eyes are blue
Policemen block my way
But I know they’ll let me through
I’ve got some privilege
I’ve got some work to do

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