The irony is not entirely lost on me that since I finished The Protest Song Project, I have been royally one-upped by various Bigger Names.
First came Dolly Parton with her CD “Those Were the Days“, featuring 60’s folky faves Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Where Will the Children Play? and John Lennon’s utopian vision of a better world, Imagine.
Then Bruce Springsteen came along with “The Seeger Sessions,” covering the songs of protest-singing hero Pete Seeger. I admit I haven’t heard this one, because sometime during the eighties I choked on too much Boss, and I can’t listen to any more of his tortured snarl or witness his gotta-be-fake-by-now blue collar pose. Also, he dances like a girl. Nonetheless, I have to say he has jumped on the protest bandwagon with this release, and good for him.
In March The Dixie Chicks came storming back from their three years of death threats and righteously indignant wingnut attacks (brought about by the Chicks’ public opposition to the war on Iraq) with an unapologetic CD and single, Not Ready to Make Nice and Neil Young has just released “Living With War,” a merciless indictment of the moral bankruptcy of the Bush Administration and its bloody and useless war on Iraq (you can hear his entire CD if you click on the link).
Dolly and Bruce are hedging their bets a little, doing old songs by other writers. If they get too much heat for saying bad things about the government they can always claim they just liked the tunes, grew up with them, etc., and wanted to do some kind of “tribute,” but God forbid they actually meant to actually say anything to their audiences, or to the administration. Still, the songs on their current CD’s are legitimate protest songs, and hearing them sung by artists of their stature can only help the cause of peace, honor and justice in America and the world, so I say “Right on, Dolly and Bruce!”
Neil and The Chicks are putting more on the line with their releases. They are unmistakeably speaking truth to power, and attaching their names and reputations to their words, not to mention that their new music might cost them a lot of money, not just now but for years to come, as ignorant jackasses boycott their records and concerts. Do you think “ignorant jackass” is a bit too strong? These are the same people who will “never go to France,” for God’s sake, or drink French wine, because the French didn’t join the coalition of the willing in the runup to our invasion of Iraq. So to Neil and The Dixie Chicks I say “Right fucking on!!”
I don’t have the juice to put a piece of music in front of millions of listeners. But even though it will forever look like these artists came forward bravely at a time when no one else dared speak, you know and I know that The Protest Song Project originated here last June, so we know who really came forward first. My fellow bloggers, I think you deserve a little credit for your vision and your bravery. You’ve been speaking out and raising concerns for six years now, and whether or not you rolled up your sleeves and wrote a verse to Not In My Name, may I offer you my fondest regards, and my best power salute: