Joseph Arthur. Picture: Ehud Lazin
Joseph Arthur is performing at Oslo in Hackney just in time for the US Presidential election. His Campaign Song received backlash for bashing Donald Trump
“Let’s make America great again is the slogan of the liar who is stoking up the fire of the racists and the bigots who are following him.”
These are the opening lyrics of Joseph Arthur’s The Campaign Song. They don’t leave much to the imagination in terms of his political position.
“It’s hardly a revolutionary stance to go against Donald Trump,” says Arthur. “There was a point where I thought I’m just saying the sky is blue.”
But that didn’t stop the backlash. If there’s one place you can be sure you’ll find an argument, it’s the YouTube comment section.
“If you put something like that out and get no hate back, you’ve done something wrong,” says Arthur.
“The hate comes fast and furious and the people you know are likeminded people, they don’t exactly get on the internet and love you.
“I’m surprised about how many of my fans are Donald Trump supporters, it makes me rethink how much I even like my music,” he adds, laughing.
“It was originally just about me going on tour and not looking at news for a while and then checking out the news. It was the first time I saw Trump in those early violent rallies and people were going ape s**t and I just had a freaked out moment of: how is this real? What the f**k is happening?”
While The Campaign Song might be his most topical to date, he’s better known for the work that preceded it.
Arthur has released upwards of 20 albums, from solo records to collaborations with such giants as Lou Reed and Peter Gabriel, who discovered Arthur and supported him when he was in his early days.
Starting out on a Sequential Circuits Six-Trak synthesiser given to him by his now Trump-supporting aunt (“I love her dearly”), he created his latest album with the help of a 1912 Steinway Vertegrand piano.
The Family is a combination of fiction and non-fiction which delves into family dynamics, real and imagined.
“I started talking to my parents and interviewing them about their parents and I explored a bit of personal history and incorporated that into the songs,” he says.
“My parents had a limited music collection. The two records I remember were The 4 Tops.” He sings this down the phone. “That, to me, is amazing. I still love that. That and Jim Croce. It’s all I remember hearing for most of my early childhood.”
Joseph Arthur is performing at Oslo in Hackney on November 8, just in time for the US Presidential election.