Thursday, October 14, 2004

Are The Times A-Changin’?

  Look, I’m not tryin’ to start a fight here.  Lord knows we’ve already got enough of those.  It started out as us against them, and now with elections approaching, it’s us against us.  These days, we’re having to choose sides more often than a schizophrenic during March Madness.  And this year, I’m trying hard not to participate.

  I know it’s irresponsible, but it’s too hard to sort the information from the misinformation, the truth from the propaganda.  I mean, if Dan Rather can’t do it, count me out. 

  But it’s getting harder and harder to avoid these “issues.”  Everything’s an “issue.”  Medicare and tax relief and domestic policy and homeland security and family values.  And “Flip-Flopping.”  Flip-Flopping is an issue.

  It seems like I’m forgetting one. OH!  The war in Vietnam, er, Iraq.  Okay, it’s not Vietnam…yet.  But the way celebrities—actors, actresses, and particularly musicians—are reacting is eerily reminiscent of the 1960s.

  If we look back to the early years of the Vietnam War, popular music was very supportive of the war.  Look no further than “The Ballad of the Green Berets.”  The song was number one on the pop charts for five weeks, a huge hit for SSgt. Barry Sadler (a Green Beret born in Carlsbad, NM).  Then suddenly the tide turned.

  Pop music turned against the war.  Folk music was already speaking out against it.  When it was Dylan and Joan Baez, it was one thing.  But when Edwin Starr and Neil Young and CCR started in, the Nixon Administration started thinking twice.  Could we be seeing that trend again?

  After 9/11, radio was rife with patriotism, from Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith to Springsteen and Billy Joel.  Now it seems safer for artists to speak out against the war.

  Country-Rocker Steve Earle has a new CD out (The Revolution Starts…Now, Artemis Records) that speaks loudly against the war in Iraq.  Rappers like Jadakiss and Wyclef Jean are starting to openly ask questions, in Jada’s “Why?” and Wyclef’s “President.”  And rock artists are coming out en masse against the war.   A Perfect Circle, Drowning Pool, The Strokes, and System of a Down all have released anti-war singles.  And Zack de la Rocha, former frontman for Rage Against The Machine, released a single called “We Want It All,” which I assume is against the war, but I can’t understand a word he screams.

  Some of the classic protest songs are being dusted off again, too.  Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” was used as the theme to Fahrenheit 9/11, Wilson Phillips have recently covered “Get Together,” and A Perfect Circle just released their version of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

  Vote or Die, Choose or Lose, Rock The Vote.  I think that P. Diddy, Michael Moore and MTV can take a break.  Everyone else, it seems, is doing their job for them.

  As for me, I’m just going to lay low for the next two weeks, try to avoid the issues, and wait for the release of  U2’s new CD, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. 

                                                                                                            -From Pulse

                                                                                                              October 14, 2004