I had never heard of a man named Roy Linton or a band called Large Maml until I was searching for an artifact to apply aspects of rhetorical criticism to. Turns out I’m not alone. Large Maml is virtually unknown except for the people who attend their small club shows. About a week before the second anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th, Large Maml sent a copy of their song, appropriately titled “9/11” to Buffalo State’s on-campus radio station: 91.3 FM WBNY, which I work for. I had been keeping my eyes open for something rhetorical, and after reading the lyrics that were included with the CD, I knew this was what I had been looking for. I did further research on the band’s website www.largemaml.com, and learned a lot more about the band and the songwriter: Roy Linton.
According to background information on Large Maml’s website (www.largemaml.com), Roy Linton is a former Marine and Vietnam veteran who hails from Iowa. Linton says he is very passionate about the country he was born in, and has a great sense of patriotism. Based on information off the band’s website, I found out that in 1993, Linton formed a band called Large Maml with a few other people he met who had similar views about the United States, and more specifically, the actual land that we live on. Large Maml is still together to this day, and they still play shows in the Midwest. The band plays a mix of rock n roll and blues music, with lyrics that touch upon many political issues that the world faces today. They released their first album “Blue Planet, Red Sky” in 1994. Almost ten years later the band released their album “Blue Soul” on the second anniversary of the tragedy of September 11th. The song “9/11” (the song I have picked as my artifact) is a track off of this new album. Roy Linton states on Large Maml’s website that “9/11” is about the hunting down of Usama Bin Laden. The song is dedicated to “the grunts and soldiers who ride on and in armored personnel carriers and tanks, along with all those who serve and have served in the United States military.”
After learning about things in class like the three constituents of rhetorical situation (exigence, audiences, and constraints) I was able to look at this song in different ways than I would have been able to prior to learning this information. Beginning with exigence, which according to what we learned in class deals with a speaker inviting or even demanding a response from an audience, I was able to look at the purpose of the song and try to decipher what changes Linton thinks need to be made within our country and government. At first I wondered if maybe Linton thought a change needed to be made within our military system because of things he may have experienced while in the military, but I don’t think this is true based on reading the lyrics to “9/11” and further understanding his militaristic approach to getting our “revenge,” by reading information about him.
I think the exigence of this song goes a little deeper than the audience just forming an opinion on what happened to the World Trade Center on September 11th. Linton has a definite patriotic side to him, but based on what I read about Large Maml and their beliefs on their website, I now know that they do feel some things need to be changed about our country. These ideas tie into the song “9/11” because if our country had been doing things differently, in the way Large Maml feels they should, maybe other countries wouldn’t resent us. We might be better off, and above all, safer. It’s a fact that a lot of our country’s money is spent helping other countries and getting involved in other country’s business. That money could be spent on the people living in the United States on things like health care. Large Maml addresses this issue by saying: “No one in America should be forced to choose between eating and buying their life sustaining medication. But it happens every day.” We know we have people suffering in our own country, yet our government is preoccupied with other countries, and they don’t seem to care. Other countries see us doing this and Large Maml acknowledges this in other songs of theirs. Large Maml also states on www.largemaml.com that as Americans we need to have a sense of pride in our country and stand up for our country as well. “We should take care of one another and take care of the Earth. It’s the only Earth we have and once it’s gone we can’t move away.” All of these points of view on Large Maml’s behalf are forms of exigence not only within the song “9/11” but also within the meaning of the band as a whole.
I don’t think Roy Linton was trying to persuade everyone to follow his same belief on how we should get revenge, but I think Linton is trying to voice his own ideas in “9/11” and at least get people to realize we can’t just sit around as a country and let this happen again.
I believe Linton’s audience is every American. If we are living in this country then we are being affected by our country’s actions as well as other country’s actions. Also, in essence, his audience is anyone who hears the song “9/11” either on Large Maml’s CD or at one of their live shows. Their audience is not only Americans who feel the same way they do, and support the war, but also people who are anti-war and people who aren’t sure what their opinion is. Our sense of patriotism is what could bring all of us as Americans together, and help solve the problem at hand.
Someone who is picking up the CD knows what they are getting themselves into based on the fact that the lyrics to “9/11” are right on the cover of the CD liner. Including the lyrics to the song was a wise move in that, it catches people’s eye and makes them want to hear the song if they are somewhat patriotic and aware of our country’s situation. On the other hand, somebody who is Anti-war, and also narrow-minded might toss the CD aside after reading a couple lines of the lyrics. This restrains the possibility of changing somebody’s already existing opinion on the war. The only opportunity Large Maml has to request a change in somebody, is if an anti-war supporter decides to humor the band and give the song a listen and really listen to the lyrics, or if a “fence-sitter” takes a chance and listens to the song.
Audience also plays a role within the distribution a CD. I work at WBNY as the Promotions Assistant so I have a good idea of how promotion of an album works. This CD that I found from Large Maml was just a copy of their one song: “9/11.” It was obvious that they sent us the song not only because it was a preview of their new album that was going to be coming out, but also because it was sent to us a few weeks before the anniversary of 9/11. A sheet was included with the CD that had the lyrics on it as well as background information and contact information. There was something on this CD case that would catch different people’s attention. Personally, the lyrics caught my eye but other people might be interested in the title of the song, etc.
My guess is that the CD was sent to as many radio stations as they could possibly send them to, and wherever else a CD with a message like that might be an influence on someone. By sending WBNY that CD they hoped we would not only listen to the song and agree with the message it was sending, but that we would play the song over the air and influence even more people.
More opportunity lies within the performance of “9/11.” The song was pretty much written to be performed. When they are playing a show at a bar or a club, the people who are watching them might vary a bit. The audience will probably consist of some people who are fans of Large Maml. Also in the audience you will have people who are just regulars at that bar, and are there to check out what is going on that night. Also, you will have people who were brought along by friends who may or may not know who Large Maml is. Therefore, there will be people in the audience who do not agree with the direction “9/11” takes. When Linton wrote the lyrics to the song he had to try and use strong language and opinions to get his point across. He was going to try and attempt to persuade non-supporters to contemplate changing their minds because they are Americans.
Overall, I think Roy Linton and his band Large Maml are engaging in the speech act of “Announcing.” If you decide you want to support and agree with the song “9/11” you have to agree with the war, and getting revenge. With lyrics like “I’m looking for you, you desert son, you killed my people now you better run” it becomes clear that Linton thinks we need this war to put fear in the enemy so this won’t happen again, and also to get our revenge. They are announcing to listeners that this is what they think we need to do. There isn’t much room to incorporate your own ideas in the plan if you want to support what this song says.
We have learned that constraints are special limitations and opportunities. Constraints are something that a speaker faces and has to work to overcome and triumph over. Constraints for the song “9/11” mainly lie within the audience and within the songwriter when he was writing the lyrics to the song. When the song was written I’m sure it was a known fact that not everybody was going to agree with the topic. Roy Linton speaks very passionately within the song and uses some very harsh and descriptive language, and that doesn’t help the situation much. This is a constraint that was brought upon by the songwriter himself. An example would be the line of the song that says: “Make the ground rumble, light up the sky, you hurt my country now you gonna die.” The same emotion could have been expressed a few other ways, but Linton chose to be very blunt, and get right to the point he wanted to make. Some people may have kept more of an open mind if the song was more vague and not as descriptive. Conservative people who heard “9/11” and lines like that one, may have just shook their head and stopped listening to the song right then and there.
Constraints lie within the people who are in the audience at the band’s shows and are anti-war. Constraints are also evident when it comes down to what kind of people are going to listen to the CD and give the song a chance, as I discussed before. Large Maml is pretty much unknown to a lot of people even though they’ve been around for a decade. You won’t catch their video on MTV or VH1. They’re not that kind of band with that kind of credibility. They would have a much easier time influencing people if they were more well known. This holds the band back as well.
It is hard to truly answer the questions posed by exigence, audiences and constraints without really analyzing the words in the song. In this case, “9/11” has some very strong lyrics which help decipher the real points of these questions posed by the three constituents of the rhetorical situation. When I analyze the song fully, I know I will be able to come to even more conclusions and find out even more about Roy Linton and his purpose for writing the song. I have also emailed him asking him for a little bit of insight on the song “9/11” and I look forward to his reply.