Blue State, Red County

Blue State, Red County

Amanda Rose Riley's picture



In Your Little Liberal Oasis (Blue State, Red County) (50/90 Challenge, one take)

Liner Notes: 

This is another one I'm having trouble titling by the way. It seems like "In Your Little Liberal Oasis" is the more prominent hook, but I feel like it's too confrontational of a title and the song's not meant to be *that* confrontational.

I will say I'm quite proud of myself for my first 50/90 because not only have I finally, for the first time in my life, turned off my inner editor telling me lyrics and melodies aren't good enough (which has actually enabled me to be more creative and improve my writing significantly!) but I've also turned off my inner editor telling me when I might offend people. So I hope this doesn't offend anyone who proudly lives in a liberal oasis, but I am enjoying being able to write about whatever I want and not worry about who will and won't like it until I decide if I want to release it more publicly.

I had this pretty simple idea a long time ago. You do hear a lot about these liberal cities or college towns in red states, that's fairly common. But I'm the opposite. I live in New Jersey, a blue state, but in a county that has a lot of uneducated people and even people you could call rednecks, and tends to be consistently Republican (though due to blatant gerrymandering I recently got a Democratic Congresswoman, so that was weird for me). You never hear about red counties in blue states, so I thought it would make an interesting song. I was going to make it more about my experiences here and the emotions that go along with it. Then as I was writing it, as you can see it turned more into a bit of a diatribe against insularity. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy a world where everyone shared my most important values, it's just that it's not real, and I think it's better to be aware of reality, giving you an opportunity to work with it, than to shut it all out and convince yourself that things are better than they are. I've met a lot of people who live in these oases and believe that about 90% of the country thinks like them and that the media exaggerates conservativism - but it's not true, the country is 50-60% liberal (including center left and social liberals) at best; you're just looking at a skewed sample, and that doesn't help anyone.


In your little liberal oasis, in the center of some great city
White men in immaculate suits don't get mildly offensive in uneducated accents
Looking around for support with excessive confidence, and almost always getting it

In your little liberal oasis, you host a vegan potluck for friendsgiving
No family gatherings of several dozen who won't even eat potatoes with dairy free margarine
And if you try to bake them cookies without eggs they say, I knew I tasted something fishy

I gotta take a 20 minute bus ride to the city
To find a group of people who think like me
While you're half a dozen miles from bumping up against the opposition
And you never had a need for a car, so you're never gonna find it
All insulated in your red state, blue county
While I'm suffocating in my blue state, red county

In your little liberal oasis, you're always patting each other on the backside
Everybody knows that everybody else is never gonna falter and they're always gonna be right
You never wonder if you're in an echo chamber, you're so sure most of the country thinks alike

In your little liberal oasis, you've left yourself no room to create change
There'll never be a martyr or a sacrifice when you're so focused on restricting conversations
And it's hard to influence someone's mind when you've never even met, and you can't understand them anyway

Please keep your comments respectful, honest, and constructive. Please focus on the song and not the demo.


johnstaples's picture

I really like this and I think you are onto something profound! I love "In Your Little Liberal Oasis" as the title. Yes, maybe a little confrontational but hey, I wrote a "wear your f'ing mask" song with lots of cursing this summer so I tend to like confrontational! You did a really nice job in your lyrics of identifying stereotypical liberal stuff like vegan potluck and friendsgiving! I really liked the energy in the chorus when you take that bus ride! I'm not sure from my listen whether you wish there were more people like you nearby. I guess you could move to the city and fold into the liberal bubble you correctly identify. Or stay in the red county and fight or hide your true self. Ideally the red and the blue could move a little closer to one another and I used to believe this was possible. These days I really don't know any more. Willfully elitist on one hand and willfully ignorant on the other. I kinda understand how civil wars can start.

But anyway, you did a great job of putting this all together! Nice work!

Zeekle's picture

The song sounds good. I’m not even going to try and understand US politics. Ours are bad enough.
I couldn’t decide on what side of the fence you were standing, which is really clever in a way. Kept listening intently trying to work it out. Well done

Sunfire's picture

We've become so tribal and insulated these days that I think this is what your song hits at. But, this red state, blue state concept I believe was created by our own lovely media. Once it's played over and over again (Red state/Blue state) and it has been in my recollection since about the time we went into Iraq in 2003 , it's just a matter of time before the general public starts buying it and the general public has.....bought this and now look at where we are. I think what you've got here is good. Many of us live in bubbles and refuse to hear or listen to someone who doesn't think like they do and as a result they stereotype those people. Sadly, in my observation people in their quest for fairness and equality are ostracizing and doing the same thing to those who they see as being prejudiced and oppressive to their perspective and others who may think like them. It works both ways. I've met just as many educated dummies as uneducated ones, so I think your song strikes at all of what I just said and kudos to you for sharing it with us. You sound great and bring it all together in a good song that should get people to stop, listen and think. .................I hope. Lol

fresh spotless youth's picture

You have a really lovely voice and a nice sense of melody. I really like this song. I definitely live in a liberal oasis. That said, I grew up amongst farmers and cowboys and Republicans of all stripes, so I don't think my thinking is terribly insular. Ezra Klein has a good book about polarization, which has helped me to better understand the way that identity is at the core of lots of our current divisiveness. But enough of that! You're pretty dang good, so I'm glad you've turned off that critic and got on with writing songs. Personally, I think you overstate the degree to which liberals live in an echo chamber and attempt to "restrict conversations." That said, if you really want to be successful, you need to be even less subtle and go all-in on Conservative Identity politics, like Creed Fisher does with If You Have a Right to Burn My Flag (Then I Have a Right to Kick Your Ass). I love how he can decry political correctness while talking about directing violent acts at people employ who symbols in a way that he finds offensive. What a snowflake! Anyway, keep at it, 'cause you have talent, IMHO.

nancyrost's picture

This is the kind of song that starts conversations, and I hope you can get it heard in places with all sorts of different demographics. Thought-provoking observations, nice bits of humor, and great chorus melody!

AndyGetch's picture

Interesting premise and exploration of a contrast to red/blue pigeonholing. Certainly one that could use more exploration since everyone I know and every place I have lived has been different. When I was reading the liner notes somehow I was musically anticipating something like Frank Turner's Photosynthesis and was presently surprised at the gentle melody and slower almost reflective tempo. Being vegan I get a giggle out of the second verse and my generally opposite experience in food based gatherings.

RalphCarl's picture

I love this one. We are all deposited in little boxes sprinkled randomly everywhere, the irony in your lyrics seasoned with truth and compassion. I'm putting the term"Liberal Oasis" in my NPR Lyric Bank, or maybe in the Yeehaw Word Box, I ain't decided yet. Really love the whole idea of this song. Great lyrics.

mike skliar's picture

Very worthy topic, difficult subject, kudos for you for taking it on. I've lived for a while now in what I guess you'd describe as a 'liberal bubble/oasis' , but I'l gently push back and say that for me and most of the folks I know here, we certainly don't take it for granted that the rest of the country is just like us in political beliefs. There's 'bubbles' on both sides of course, tho it seems to me that only one side is denying science, etc. Keep writing political themed material, there is alot to write about these days! (I've been writing about political type things for a while now, tho not exclusively)
nice work!