January 12, 2007

Take Five: Songs Against The Occupation

[Take Five. Every Friday, Fire on the Mountain picks a category and lists five cool things in it. It's up to you, dear reader, to add your own in the Comments section. Just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of the piece and you're off to the races.]

Hey, this Take Five is a natural. W has just opted for escalating the war in defiance of public opinion, of the brass (sweating over the damage the “new way forward” will do the military), of the new Congress (where the Dems are being forced to deal with the war instead of their First 100 Hour “gimme” list) and of the world (even Bush’s poodle, Tony Blair, is withdrawing troops).

It’s war over the war now, folks. And the soundtrack is being cut as we fight. Here are five I’ve been listening to a lot.


The Price We Had To Pay—Charley Anderson

Take Five isn’t a “Best Of…”, but I challenge anybody: name a better song to come out of this war. Cut by a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, and told from the point of view of a returned combat vet, it moves me to tears, or at least toward them, every time I hear it. The cut is playable (maybe even downloadable?) near the bottom of the left hand column of the homepage at the Bring Them Home Now! website, and it’s a very rough recording. Listen anyhow. More than once.

Girl At The March—The Spunk Lads

This is an anomaly here. It isn’t Iraq-specific, though it references the gigantic global mobilization to stop the invasion in February, 2003. Done by Liverpudlian punk, erm, legends, the Spunk Lads, it too combines the political and the personal—the urgency of the great march and the jolting and inspiring effect a single fellow demonstrator can have.

Ain’t Going Back Again--Peace Machine

Dennis Kyne is a veteran of the first Iraq War and a stone activist, in particular around depleted uranium--DU. This song is as timely as they come—watch what happens as National Guard units and reservists are told, forget all those promises, they’re gonna be shipped back to the Sandbox. This song has been in the top 100 for months at Neil Young’s utterly amazing compilation of 1138 (and counting) independent anti-war songs. Give “Ain’t Going Back Again” a vote there.

Halliburton Boardroom Massacre—David Rovics

Rovics is a fine and prolific songwriter, and left as hell. Plus which he puts tons of his stuff up for anyone to download (make a donation, eh?). I could pick a dozen, two dozen songs from his work over the last few years, but I decided to go with this because David chose to make it the title tune of his most recent CD. It’s interesting in this company, because the song’s protagonist is an Iraq vet, like Charley Anderson, and hit by DU poisoning (see Peace Machine above). By me, the well-composed lyrics still lack the power that comes from experiencing the real thing, but the violence fantasy the title references speaks to me loud and clear, and I suspect will to all but the most Gandhian among us.


I went back and forth on including this because only the first verse directly references the war, but decided it’s a definite yes. The title munition in that first verse takes out a high school grad who enlists for the same reason as Rovics' guy:

He ain't really a killa though, takin' a lotta risks
This is what a poor person do for a scholarship
He turned around and got a face full of hollow-tips
But don't be mad, he died for the flag.
Yeah, I know, “hollow points” shows his frame of reference is Hip-Hop Nation, not Anbar Province, but the next two verses make a sharp critique of two poisonous masculinist behaviors—playa and thug-- that connect to the combat macho of the first verse. And the end is just as grim.
We made for more, we die for less,
When you starvin' in the ghetto, I'ma write the rest
See my girl think I'm hard, and my Momma think I'm hard
But when I'm all up in the dark, I just fall on my knees.

There's mine. Kick in one or two of yours.

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