A recent Guardian Music Blog post asked for examples of really bad lyrics about current affairs. I nominated Pendragon’s Green and Pleasant Land, and it predictably made some other Guardian commenters’ heads explode.
I knew the song was controversial, but until I googled for the lyrics I didn’t realise quite how vile they were, with their references to Sharia Law and far-right urban myths about not being allowed to mention Christmas. The whole thing reads like a parody Daily Mail bingo card set to music. Except it’s not supposed to be a parody.
I remember when I saw Pendragon live a couple of years back, a poor gig ruined by terrible sound. Nick Barratt was complaining about the reactions to the song, and seemed to take offence at being called a bigot. Nick, if you don’t like being called a bigot, you could always stop behaving like one.
I guess it’s easier to be critical of a band’s lyrics when you’re not a big fan of their music. I always thought Pendragon were one of the least interesting of the 80s crop of neo-prog bands. Like contemporaries Marillion and IQ they started out wearing some obvious influences on their sleeves. But unlike those bands, who merely used those influences as a starting point to develop their own musical identities, Pendragon seemed content to continue sounding like a derivative pastiche of their 70s heroes; indeed some of their songs contain whole sections lifted from Pink Floyd and Yes.
Anyway, here’s a link to the song itself, so you can make up your own mind about it.
Pendragon have been around a long time, and have gathered themselves a loyal fanbase. But for me there are more than enough great bands in the progressive rock scene nowadays to feel any need to bother with bands that write such “problematic” lyrics.