Sunday, March 30, 2008

Come you masters of war

An interesting blog over at Politico gives several good reasons why protest songs have not resonated widely in our culture during this long war in Iraq - fragmentation of our listening experience, a volunteer army, a culture obsessed with a "reality" that is not a reality.

Reading the comments attached to the blog, and it's something you must do, it's clear that there are still as many brain-dead Americans as there ever have been who are willing to say, "it's because the songs suck and the singers are traitors"

Well, that's just not true. There were songs which resonated through our culture at the height of the civil rights and anti-war movement of the sixties and seventies: Blowin' In the Wind, Who Will Stop the Rain, Eve of Destruction, Where Have All The Flowers Gone, What's Going On, For What It's Worth, Fortunate Son, Ohio, Abraham, Martin and John, Woodstock. That was at a time when radio playlists where not enforced by corporate owners, and every boy in America was worried about being conscripted into an immoral war. But there were many songs written and played that did not hit the top of the charts, did not become "anthems for a generation" but have become standards in some circles. After all, it wasn't really hip to be singing along with Barry McGuire.

So there was Masters of War by Bob Dylan, I Ain't A Marchin Anymore by Phil Ochs, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy by Pete Seeger, Universal Soldier by Buffy Ste. Marie, Sam Stone by John Prine and many more.

This president and this war has inspired thousands of songwriters, some of whom I've written about here before, some who have written great songs. I don't know about the Tori Amos, anti-Bush song, but here are a few I'd check out:

Man of God and Highway 9 - Eliza Gilkyson

Dear Mr. President - Pink

Rich Man's War - Steve Earle
Volunteer and Seeds of Peace - Mark Erelli
Commander - Girlyman

Chickenhawk and Thanks for the Support - Roy Zimmerman

Dad's Gonna Kill Me - Richard Thompson

After the Parade - Dan Bern
Dangerous Times and Liar, Liar - Chuck Brodsky

Some Humans Ain't Human - John Prine

Dress Blues - Jason Isbell

Lives in the Balance (acooustic) - Jackson Browne

The Price of Oil - Billy Bragg

Guantanamo - State Radio

Mr. President - Spicewood Seven

Devils and Dust - Bruce Springsteen

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but an illustration. And another good reason to listen to independent radio stations like WWUH.

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