From the January 2004 Idaho Observer:

Traditional weapons for contemporary times

Lyrical ridicule and “volk” music

A different kind of review by Don Harkins

Throughout history there have been a few in every generation gifted with the ability (perhaps the burden) to see through the lies and deceptions to past and present truths shaping the lives of those around them. At some point those people (us) don't need any more information to better understand what we already know to be true: That we are all in serious trouble. What we need are tools to help others see what we see so that we can all participate in stopping the madness defining our times.

We grow up appreciating the works of William Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift, H.L Mencken and others whose brilliant satire shaped the thoughts of people in their day.

We who can already see are not numerous enough at this time to prevent the inevitable implosion of our culture from innumerable social, political, economic and environmental factors; we need to reach a critical mass of public understanding of the issues to stop the madness and create the environment wherein positive change is possible.

Experience shows that bulleting the facts and lecturing the blind with the truth is not an effective way to generate the critical mass we seek. So, we must find other ways to get past the conditioning and the fear that allows the blinders to stay on the eyes of society.

While The IO, for instance, serves the needs of the all-seeing choir, it has the effect of repeatedly striking the general public about the head and shoulders with a blunt instrument (rendering it overwhelmed in unconscious disbelief). In recognition of this fact, The IO staff is always in search of tools of understanding that appeal to a broader spectrum of people. We produce some such tools ourselves (see the backpage). We also promote the tools others produce (see page 17).

Watching MTV is a collection of 22 tracks performed by the Jones family of South Bend, Indiana. The CD is a disarming mixture of humorously biting social commentary set to upbeat traditional fiddle music and short, fun instrumental fillers.

E. Michael Jones, the father and bandleader, was a speaker at the Mut zur Ethik conference in Feldkirch, Austria last September. I also spoke there and reported how the conference speakers and organizers were together for nearly two weeks holding discussions, eating, drinking and going on field trips (The IO, October, 2003). Jones carried his well-worn mandolin with him wherever the group went. At any time, the group could spontaneously be encouraged to break out into song. Jones would lead the rather ill-trained international choir to sing a lot of popular or traditional tunes during a discussion, at a restaurant or a pub or even on a trail in the alps. Much to our glee, he also taught us a few of his own songs.

We had a lot of fun with “The Neocon Song” and “Tell George Bush We Won't Fight in His War.” We actually got pretty good at singing them and even achieved a semblance of harmony. Jones was told by several people that he ought to get those tunes recorded and release a CD. “Watching MTV” is the result.

While the Jones Family Band, comprised of Mike, his wife Anna and his son Samuel, is not likely to win any Grammys for this effort, Watching MTV will win the heart of everyone who listens to it. The Jones do not have a TV and entertain themselves by playing music and engaging in other pre-(M)TV family activities. So, you get to peek into the Jones' parlour while they play and feel all the things you feel when regular folks get together and make music. You also get to peek into the witty, classically educated yet cynically lyrical mind of a Philadelphia-born, Irish-Catholic political and social dissident.

Jones calls the musical style of this CD “volk” music -- “traditional European ethnic melodies used as a vehicle for what we want to say, just like our ancestors did,” Jones explained.

The tunes are catchy and danceable. The sound quality is clean but warm and human -- not what one would call a digitally mixed and flawlessly mastered modern overproduction. The CD contains the title track and the two songs previously mentioned, plus The Ballad of Jessica Lynch, Fighting Hate, Fear the Jews, White Trash Bill, The Domestic Partner Song -- and many more. It sells for $15 + s/h.

To order contact Jones at (574) 289-9786 or write him at 206 Marquette Ave., South Bend, Indiana 46617.

Jones is also the editor of Culture Wars, an electronic periodical that analyzes history and current events from the unique perspective of someone who believes that faith, family and tradition are to be honored by our actions -- not desecrated by them. Visit

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