Monday, August 21, 2006

Musicians Rock, Rap and Twang Against the War

ABC News
Musicians Rock, Rap and Twang Against the War
Three Years After the Dixie Chicks Got Pounded for Criticizing President Bush, Diverse Musicians Join the Chorus

Aug. 20, 2006 — - Anti-war songs are often thought of as a relic of the Vietnam era, but today's stars are now increasingly criticizing the government over the war in Iraq.

Just a few years ago, this was considered a risky career move, but now rocking against the war is, quite literally, all the rage.

Perhaps the most acidic anti-war songs today are coming from an old hand. In the 1960s and '70s, Neil Young raged against the Vietnam War.

Now he has a new album, "Living With War," filled with songs like "Let's Impeach the President." Young says he's never made a record that produced more anger -- or more appreciation.

"I have people holding me by the shoulders with tears in their eyes thanking me for saying these things," he told ABC News.

That a major record label put out this album signals a real cultural shift. In 2003, the Dixie Chicks were bashed and boycotted for criticizing the president.

Today, the Dixie Chicks have a hit record.

Meanwhile, anti-war songs are pouring in from all corners of the musical spectrum -- including country legends such as Merle Haggard, classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, pop stars such as Pink, rappers such as KRS-One and punk rockers such as Green Day and Anti-Flag.

"We're trying to get a reaction out of people," said Justin Sane of Anti-Flag. "Even if people don't agree with what we say, we're trying to get people to think."

The proliferation of protest songs is reminiscent of the Vietnam era. But there's one big difference: Today, the musical movement is not accompanied by a mass movement against the war.

"The question is: Why haven't these musicians written the right song to start the movement?" says Dave Marsh, a rock historian. "And the answer to that is: That's not what songs do. What songs do is not start things. What songs do is help sustain them."

With a few notable exceptions, most of today's protest songs have not been big hits. It's also worth noting that, while the Dixie Chicks do have a hit record, they've had to cancel concerts in the South and Midwest, where some radio stations still refuse to play their songs.