When the folk music revival hit postwar America, its preeminent performers either kept mum about their politics or tilted strongly to the left. But not every folk fan followed their lead. Bill Geerhart—the man behind CONELRAD, an invaluable website devoted to the cultural history of the Cold War—has compiled Freedom Is a Hammer, a fascinating album in which lesser-known musicians of the 1960s sing songs about Communist conspirators, liberal media bias, and other themes of the right.
Some of the tracks are clever. Others demonstrate that liberal songwriters don’t have a monopoly on heavy-handed harangues. Most follow the genre’s formulas to a T. Listeners who don’t happen to know where Budapest is located might mistake “Remember Bloody Budapest,” a song by future Reagan speechwriter Tony Dolan, for another lefty protest number. At least until the lines, “Where were your songs of righteousness/When Kennedy was killed by a Marxist?” —Jesse Walker