Sunday :: Mar 12, 2006

"They Say The War Is Over, But I Think It's Just Begun"

by pessimist
Country music still is regarded as very, very conservative in the USA. Because of this it has hit us harder than other artists who were against the war. - Martie Maguire, Dixie Chick

Remember back to 2003, when Dixie Chick Natalie Maines had the audacity to declare (during a concert in London):

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."
Radio stations across the country dropped their music like a rock. WDAF-AM in Kansas City even held a Dixie 'chicken toss' party, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group's tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

Maines was forced to back down:

"As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

Guess what - Maines and her partners are back, and this time they won't back down:

[T]he DIXIE CHICKS are planning to re-ignite their feud with US President GEORGE W BUSH in a provocative new song. [NATALIE MAINES] remains defiant and has penned new tune NOT READY TO MAKE NICE, which addresses the controversy surrounding her concert comments: "Forgive, sounds good/Forget, I'm not sure I could/They say time heals everything/But I'm still waiting."

This time, the Chicks' backs aren't being watched by Alec Baldwin. This time, it's the reigning King and Queen of Nashville:

Yesterday, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw - the husband-and-wife superstars of country music - laid into President Bush about his inconceivable bunging-up of the response to Hurricane Katrina.

And the Hits just keep on comin'!

McGraw, a native of native of Delhi, La., and wife Hill, who grew up in Jackson, Miss., spoke for attribution:


"There's no reason why someone can't go down there who's supposed to be the leader of the free world … and say, 'This is what I've given you to do, and if it's not done by the time I get back on my plane, then you're fired and someone else will be in your place'."

"When you have people dying because they're poor and black or poor and white, or because of whatever they are — if that's a number on a political scale — then that is the most wrong thing. That erases everything that's great about our country."

Hill uncharacteristically unleashed an epithet, calling the situation, "Bull- - - -"


"I fear for our country if we can't handle our people [during] a natural disaster. And I can't stand to see it. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out point A to point B ... And they can't even skip from point A to point B. ... It's just screwed up."

McGraw let out a stream of frustration, growling "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

Howard Beale, the fictional newscaster whose moment of truth made the movie Network, would be proud of you, Tim:

'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:

[screaming at the top of his lungs] "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

But we digress.

Despite the anti-Bu$h comments, no one thinks that these high-grossing country music stars are going to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Red State Mi$fortune in 2006 as the Chicks did in 2003:

Eric Alterman puts it into perspective:

Unlike the Dixie Chicks who spoke their minds on the eve of the Iraq war about being embarrassed to be from the same state as Bush and were essentially banned from country radio stations drunk on patriotism, my hunch is neither Hill nor McGraw will pay any kind of price for criticizing the president and letting an expletive fly. Defending incompetence does not usually arouse deep passion among radio jocks or music fans.

And it doesn't stop there! George's Southern fundamentalist 'base' is cracking:

Worse for Bush, the McGraw-Hill public flogging comes just days after an Elon University poll revealed a clear majority of voters in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush's performance in office.

Two days later came the stunning poll results published in the Indianapolis Star that showed Hoosiers statewide giving Bush just a 37 job approval rating, down 18 points in one year. In 2004, Bush won Indiana, a longtime Republican bastion akin to the Deep South, by 21 points over John Kerry.

Is this what it looks like when the base begins to crumble?

Sure is! Maybe that is why so many artists have now come out of the corporate closet with their disapproval of King George and his (mi$)Admini$tration!

When the Chicks first spoke, Bruce Springsteen was one of the few to risk his popularity by defending them. As Chick Martie Maguire said to Spiegel Online in 2003:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In view of the campaign against you, did other musicians show solidarity with you?

Maguire: In the Country-Scene practically no one. These people head for the hills fast when there's trouble. They're not there for each other. That was very disappointing. Merle Haggard dropped a few kind words about us [read them here], but that was it. We only got support from other areas, from Bruce Springsteen, for example.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You sound bitter, when you talk about your Country colleagues...

Maguire: Yes, I think, we don't feel a part of the Country-Scene anymore, that it can't be our home anymore... No, we see ourselves now as a part of the large Rock and Roll family.

This time, many others are joining their criticism to that of The Chicks (along with Whoopie Goldberg and rapper Paris):

Kanye West: “George Bush doesn't care about black people.” He later told Barbara Walters, “ I spoke from my heart, and I stand by my statement.”

In June 2004, Morrissey came to the attention of the FBI for interrupting a Dublin concert with news that former US President Ronald Reagan had died, adding that he wished Bush had died instead. Months later, Morrissey urged US voters to get rid of Bush, calling him a terrorist and adding that he "single-handedly turned the United States into the most neurotic and terror-obsessed country on the planet."

Subsequent 'interviews' with the Bureau and with British intelligence officials didn't stop him from adding just this week (3/9/6):

"My view was, how would anyone be remotely surprised? It's [July's London bombings] an obvious retaliation against Blair's intentions," Morrissey said. "And you can't refer to these things as being terrorist attacks and yet assume that the actions of Blair and Bush are not terrorism. They're worse than terrorism; they're the actions of egotistical monsters."

"Bush views Iraq and thinks, 'Well, we will control this country eventually anyway so it doesn't matter how many people we kill'," he added.

The list of musicians applying their talents to political expression is slowly growing:

"Everybody was afraid to speak out against him [Bush]," says singer Rickie Lee Jones in a [June 2004] telephone call. "It was a very dangerous time. The atmosphere was very reminiscent of fascist Germany.... I've never been an activist, but I wanted to start doing something."

Jones makes no bones about her views about the president on her compact disc Evening of My Best Day. Despite its soft atmospherics, the opening tune off the track, Ugly Man, may be the sharpest attack on a president to date, while the up-tempo bounce of Tell Somebody (Repeal the Patriot Act Now) is similarly self-explanatory in its rebellious intentions. Jones wants to be clear that what she is protesting is not the Iraq war, but the actions of George W. Bush. Asserts Jones, "Call it what it is! It's not a war, it's George Bush - the man wielding the weapon is the problem."

And the men wielding the weapons know this better than anyone:

Angry Frontline Rap

The group 4th25 (Fourth Quarter) is building its own distribution network from the ground up and recently released their first track since returning from Iraq. While stationed in Baghdad, Sgt. Neal Saunders and five fellow soldier-musicians built a makeshift studio, then mixed and recorded 15 tracks chronicling their harrowing tour of duty. They vent their anger at politicians, insurgents and civilians; few escape their wrath. Many of the rough, raw tracks are laid over the eerie pops of explosions. The album has received acclaim from television and public radio as well as Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Yet despite these few credible nods, the corporate radio and recording industry has been completely silent.

Antiwar And Online

Lenny Kravitz: We Want Peace
Willie Nelson: Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth
John Mellencamp: To Washington
Beastie Boys: In a World Gone Mad
REM: The Final Straw
Chumbuwumba: Jacob’s Ladder
Green Day: Life During War Time
Billy Bragg: The Price of Oil
Steve Earle: The Revolution Starts Now
Luka Bloom: I Am Not at War With Anyone
Jonatha Brooke: War
Paula Cole: My Hero, Mr. President!
Crack Emcee: Red, White & Blue
David Dondero: Pre-Invasion Jitters
Michael Franti and Spearhead: Bomb the World
George Michael: The Grave (cover of Don McLean's Vietnam protest song)
Paris: What Would You Do
Zack de la Rocha/DJ Shadow: March of Death
System of a Down: Boom!
Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Eugene Chadbourne and others

• 4th25, digital download, Hate Me, an iTunes exclusive offered through their Web site, recounts their trials and tribulations navigating record labels, the media and the music industry.

It isn't just musicians who are blasting Bu$h. Visual artists are as well:

Sticking it to Bush at Whitney exhibit

Now it's art's turn to bash George W. Bush, and it's doing it with real gusto at the Whitney Biennial 2006.

No one saw this much old-school politicking coming. We should have. First there was the inclusion of a sizeable contingent of non-American artists — many Canadians among them — for what has traditionally been the ritual pulse-taking of American art.

American sculptor Richard Serra is represented with Stop Bush, an angry litho crayon drawing on Mylar from his own collection. More convincing for its honesty than as art, it expands the original shocking image of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner, [Ali Shalal Qaissi], into a vengeful wraith-like figure. Then there's The Deep Dish Television Network collective's video series, Shocking and Awful: A Grassroots Response to War and Occupation (2003-2005). And this is just the start of art's anti-war hit list.

Whether you begin at the beginning of the massive exhibition at the Whitney Museum, or its tail end, you come upon Francesco Vezzoli's Trailer for the Remake of Gore Vidal's "Caligula" (2005). Vezzoli's celebrity-laden 5 1/2-minute faux movie trailer — with the likes of Helen Mirren playing lead-the-horsy with a duo of near-naked studs — is already the star turn in the entire group exhibition ... The libidinous Trailer, based on the 1979 feature film Caligula, is any born-again president's worst nightmare.

Trailer isn't art. Then again a lot of other things shouldn't make this claim either. What Trailer has is a down-with-the-king rebel attitude — albeit of the '70s porn variety — that's central to this Madison Ave revival of the spirit of '60s-70s agitprop. Its signal is clear. In the debauchery of ancient Rome — read, Washington — we have an obnoxious twit of an emperor, played by the 34-year-old Italian artist himself, ruthlessly getting rid of his critics.

That about sums up King George, doesn't it?

In addition, Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan is about to kick off a national speaking tour withThe "Bring 'Em Home Now" concert:

"Bring 'Em Home Now!" will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 20, the 3rd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Rufus Wainwright, Bright Eyes, Chuck D, Peaches, Steve Earle, Devendra Banhart and Fischerspooner, are among the artists expected to perform.
"It is impossible not react to the current state of affairs through personal action and artistic production," said Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner in a statement.
Organizers said the concert will be followed by a national "Bring 'Em Home Now!" speaking tour that will feature Sheehan and various authors traveling to 15 U.S. cities in April.

I haven't been able to come up with as good a closing section as this, so I'll use it instead. All you have to do is replace 'in Vietnam' with 'before Iran', and it all still works after 35 years.

My Name Is Penny Evans And My Age Is Twenty-One
I'm A Widow Of The War That Was Fought In Vietnam
I Have Two Baby Daughters And I Do The Best I Can
They Say The War Is Over But I Think It's Just Begun

I Remember I Was Seventeen When First I Met My Bill

At His Father's Grand Piano We Played Old 'Heart And Soul'

I Only Knew The Left Hand Part, He Knew The Right So Well

He's The Only Boy I Slept With, And The Only One I Will

First We Had A Baby Girl, We Had Two Good Years

And Next The Warning Notice Came, We Parted Without Tears

Then It's Nine Months From Our Last Goodbye Our Second Child Appears

And It's Ten Months And A Telegram Confirming All Our Fears

So Once A Month I Get A Check From Some Army Bureaucrat

And Once A Month I Tear It Up And Mail The Damn Thing Back

Do They Think That Makes It All Right? Do They Think I'll Fall For That

They Can Keep Their Bloody Money, It Won't Bring My Billy Back

I Never Cared For Politics, Speeches I Don't Understand

Likewise I'll Take No Charity From Any Living Man

But Tonight There's Fifty Thousand Gone In That Unhappy Land

And Fifty Thousand 'Heart And Souls' Being Played With Just One Hand

My Name Is Penny Evans And My Age Is Twenty-One

I'm A Widow Of The War That Was Fought In Vietnam

I Have Two Baby Daughters - Thank God I Have No Son

They Say The War Is Over But I Think It's Just Begun

- Steve Goodman, Ballad Of Penny Evans (1971)

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