Many of you were invigorated by my colleague John Halle’s provocative article “Occupy Wall Street, Composers and the Plutocracy”, which I posted in this space last year. He’s now written a kind of historical prequel, tracing the changing relationship between music and leftist politics through the 20th century: “‘Nothing is Too Good for the Working Class’: Classical Music, the High Arts and Workers’ Culture.” I find particularly intriguing a mid-century view articulated by Hanns Eisler that “simple music does and can reflect only simple political thinking,” and that “it is easier for people who appreciate complex music to move on to an appreciation of complex political problems, than for those who limit themselves to folk (pop, rock, gospel, blues, etc.)” This will certainly not go unchallenged (and John is not asserting it as his own view), but I’m fascinated that, before the 1960s fusion of rock and progressive politics, classical music was seen by some as having a potentially more crucial role. The depth of John’s historical knowledge in this area, and – even more – his ability to maintain all these cultural contradictions in their complexity, is phenomenal. We’re actually discussing writing a book together, though I’m not sure what, beyond my 600-word-an-hour writing speed, I have to contribute.