,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Looking For A Song, A New Anti-War Song

Anti-war demonstrators marched today in London and Glasgow. Duncan Campbell wrote in The Guardian, UK, about the need for "a new anti-war anthem that will capture the mood". One of my favorites is Bob Dylan's Masters of War. It very aptly describes Bush, Cheney, Blair and the warmongers. "I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in" said George McGovern who had served bravely as a B24 Liberator pilot in World War II. Partly because of his anti-Vietnam stance, in the 1972 presidential election George McGovern, the Democratic contender, suffered a landslide defeat against Richard Nixon. Today, not only young men but also young women are dying in another unjustified war now raging in Iraq. Those who began it talk smugly about their heroism and sacrifice. We read about families of dead soldiers. Some of them say "that is what he (she) wanted". No doubt there are soldiers who believe in the rightness of the war. But not all, certainly not all. And what about those who return maimed? The very people who gave us the war are responsible for the conditions at Walter Reed to happen. A new song must express our sorrow.....and rage.

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

---Bob Dylan
Copyright © 1963; renewed 1991 Special Rider Music

The same old songs

There is a gaping hole for a new anti-war anthem that will capture the moment and the mood

Duncan Campbell
Saturday February 24, 2007
The Guardian

'And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?..." Forty or so years ago, no anti-Vietnam war rally was complete without someone trying to sing the I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish. Country Joe McDonald himself is still very much with us, living in Berkeley, still protesting and promoting versions of his 1965 song that now incorporate the war in Iraq.

Today tens of thousands of anti-war protesters are due to assemble in George Square in Glasgow and Hyde Park in London, when they will hear a new version of the other great anti-war anthem of that era - War (What Is It Good For?), originally sung by Edwin Starr in 1970. The latest interpretation is by Ugly Rumours, an anti-tribute band named after the group in which the prime minister performed in his long-haired youth.

London demonstrators will also be entertained by Ed Harcourt singing Masters of War, written in 1963 by Bob Dylan about the military-industrial complex that profits from the fighting (and Joan Baez may even be appearing). These are all great songs, but where is the defining anti-war anthem of today?

The first world war, as anyone who has seen the musical Oh! What a Lovely War will know, produced dozens of haunting songs from When This Lousy War Is Over to The Bells of Hell. In the second world war, everyone did know what they were fighting for, which may account for the fact that there were fewer in the way of protest songs, but the Vietnam war brought a bundle to the fore in addition to the contributions of Country Joe and Edwin Starr.

The cold war gave us Randy Newman's still highly topical Political Science ("No one likes us / I don't know why / We may not be perfect / But heaven knows we try ... Let's drop the big one now"), and the conflict in Northern Ireland prompted Billy Connolly to write a beautiful little song called Sergeant, Where's Mine? ("All your talk of computers and sunshine and skis / All I'm askin' is - sergeant, where's mine?"). And from the Falklands war we had Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding, as sung by Robert Wyatt.

Nor is there a shortage now of songs about what is happening in Iraq. Bloc Party's Helicopter, Hard-Fi's Middle Eastern Holiday and Elbow's Leaders of the Free World are just three suggested by a colleague, and there are many from the other side of the Atlantic; but there is still the lack of a defining anthem.

Andrew Murray, of the Stop the War Coalition, says that every week he is sent new anti-war songs, but they are mainly in a traditional folk style, and he has not yet come across a new song that has quite the anthemic, rallying resonance of Fixin'-to-Die or War. He said that the anti-war movement has had plenty of support from writers, actors and artists, but not quite as much as he would have hoped from the musical fraternity. Ms Dynamite was at the big 2003 rally, Damon Albarn has also attended protests, and Nigel Kennedy and Brian Eno have been active - but Murray says there is a gaping hole for a new song.

There is no shortage of bands and musicians of all generations committed to political action, whether in terms of climate change or poverty, and there is no lack of willingness to help. This summer an army of young and middle-aged musicians will take part in Live Earth to draw attention to the dangers of global warming. But it is one thing to offer one's services and another to compose that elusive song that somehow captures the moment and the mood.

Murray says that if anyone can come up with such a song they will be guaranteed a big audience. Out there somewhere there must be a musician lurking with lyrics scrawled on the back of a flyer just waiting for their moment.

In the meantime, it's one, two, three ...


George McGovern flew B-24s in World War II. The B-52 was not even built until the 1950s.
Thank you. The post has been corrected.
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