Protest songs beginning to flow

Published 11:25 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By Staff
Last October I wrote an editorial wondering where the new generation of war protest songs was hiding. That was then.
Most notable to me is brown-wrappered “Living With War,” for which Canadian Neil Young, 60, cranked out nine songs in six April days.
He wrote four on the day he recorded them.
Young charges the Bush administration with lying, spying, waging war without right or reason and dereliction of duty to America's founding ideals.
He even sings, “Let's impeach the President,” melding that Crazy Horse garage guitar with a 100-voice choir. Singers were informed about the impeachment song; more came than were called on an hour's notice.
It's decidedly one man's opinion, a Foxy flourish of he reports, you decide, and you might hold against him a lyric in “Roger and Out” like “trippin' down the old hippie highway” as politically passe, but to me it feels more like his “Rust Never Sleeps” mantra of it being better to burn out than to fade away plus the urgency of “Ohio,” about the Kent State tragedy.
To conjure images of Vietnam repeating itself when we are denied the coffins coming home that might visibly “Shock and Awe” us of the toll, Young inserts a mournful trumpet blowing “Taps.”
The Dixie Chicks are also not going quietly, thumbing country radio with a feisty return, “Taking the Long Way.” Their unapologetic seventh album marries the trio's Texas roots to a harder classic rock sound.
Rather than let rest singer Natalie Maines' anti-Bush remarks which landed them in hot water with radio programmers in 2003, they declare they are “Not Ready to Make Nice” with the help of some Heartbreakers and a Red Hot Chili Pepper.
There are also Pearl Jam's “World Wide Suicide,” Pink's “Dear Mr. President,” Bruce Springsteen's “Mrs. McGrath” from his Pete Seeger tribute album and even Paul Simon, who sings on “Wartime Prayers,” “Gone like a memory from the day before the fires/People hungry for the voice of God hear lunatics and liars.”
Superpower or plutocracy?: America's survival rate for newborn babies is not the worst in the world. We're ahead of Latvia.
Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States ties with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly five per 1,000 babies.
Latvia's is six per 1,000, according to a Save the Children report released May 8.
So much for our vaunted health care system. Save the Children follows on the heels of another humbling study that showed white, middle-aged Americans are far less healthy than the English, despite spending double what that country does on health care.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “Voter restlessness imperils incumbents of both parties this year - especially the Republicans who control Congress … voters are beginning to demand more candor and more responsibility. That is also the theme sounded by one of the current generation's best political reporters, (Time magazine's) Joe Klein, in his new book, ‘Politics Lost: How American Democracy was Trivialized by People Who Think You're Stupid' … His real beef is not with the consultants but with presidential candidates who lack the convictions, the ideas and the backbone to run their races as themselves. His plea is for authenticity, and on that score I think he reads the voters exactly right. Klein draws a devastating portrait of the last two Democratic nominees, Al Gore and John Kerry, faulting both of them for trimming their public positions to suit what they - and their consultants - thought were the prevailing winds … voters can sniff hypocrisy … They also can accept disagreement with a politician's policy views if they believe he is genuine in his convictions. That was, of course, one of Reagan's great strengths, and it worked to President Bush's advantage for a long time - even though he took the nation to war and refused to ask for any sacrifice except by the families whose sons and daughters were the casualties. The presumption of authenticity … is John McCain's greatest strength going into the 2008 presidential race.”
Keith Richards, 62, the Rolling Stones guitarist, underwent surgery in New Zealand May 8 to relieve pressure in his head from an April 27 fall in Fiji, delaying the Stones' European tour until June.