Add to Technorati Favorites
Democratic Party Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Where Have All the Anti-War Songs Gone?

The movie theater lights came down 10 minutes before show time, but instead of coming attractions, or ads for popcorn in the lobby, a three and a half minute National Guard recruiting video began to play. Immediately, it became obvious that this was no ordinary schlocky military-produced film, but a slick rock video by the popular rock group “3 Doors Down.” The video, “Citizen Soldier,” chronicles the history of the National Guard; one of their own fired the shot that “started a nation,” and others “stormed the beaches of Normandy” and includes footage from 9/11 and Guardsmen rescuing a cute blond boy from what looks like the aftermath of a tornado.

The reality, of course, is that for the last several years, Guardsmen, more often than not, have been deployed to Iraq, not here rescuing Americans from disasters. 3 Doors Down, by appealing to its fan base, is helping to send young men and women to fight in Iraq. The new recruits will most likely not find cute blond kids to rescue, nor will they start a nation.

The times they are indeed a-changin’.. During the Vietnam war, the popular bands of the era were putting out seminal anti-war music, not recruitment songs. Where have all the Pete Seegers gone? Gone to commercials everywhere, it seems. Even the formerly anti-establishment hero of the farmers, John Mellencamp, has gone corporate, happily singing that this is our country in those repetitive Chevy commercials. He informs us that, “There’s room enough here for religion to forgive,” but this inane, banal piece of bad songwriting cannot be forgiven. Long ago, Mellencamp told us that he fought authority and authority always won. Maybe he just got tired of fighting and decided to just take the money and run.

Four and a half years into the Iraq conflict. and it’s hard to think of a single Iraq-era anti-war song. Yet, even young people born long after the Vietnam war can name a handful of that era’s best protest songs. “Alice’s Restaurant,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “One Tin Soldier” come quickly to mind. Something has indeed gone haywire over the last 30 years if the most memorable anti-war musical moment (not even a song)came from the Dixie Chicks, a country group no less, when the lead singer announced a few years ago that she was ashamed that the president was from Texas.

Do today’s artists and listeners just have different political viewpoints? Or could it be the lack of a draft? Maybe self-preservation helped inspire the great anti-war song output of old. Or could the corporate ownership of radio simply be keeping these songs from us? In March of 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, The New York Times published an article about the state of anti-war music, saying, “One thing is certain: a war, as opposed to the prospect of war, would quickly generate more anti-war music.” Four plus years since then, it seems that certainty, like the music business, just ain’t what it used to be.

1 comment:

Delilah said...

Keep up the good work.