[JPL] Iraq war songs

mark zaborney mzaborney at wcnet.org
Tue Sep 25 01:01:14 EDT 2007

"But, overall, it seems that the country is fragmented in such a way, that a
popular anthem may no longer be possible."

Fragmented politically and culturally. It may be called popular culture, but it's really become a collection of niche cultures, some of which overlap on occasion. Say there were a song that captured this moment. How would the song even be transmitted to enough of the masses that it would be on everyone's lips, that the Ken Burns of 2067 would know he must have it in his Iraq War documentary? 

Another difficulty: Though the United States has been at this longer than it was in WWII, the nation has not been on a war footing. Even the sacrifices come from small groups, not the masses, as the losses have been those of families and of communities mourning sons and daughters who won't come home.

To the question: Yes, Ben Allison and his "Cowboy Justice" is protest. The Liberation Music Orchestra and "Not In Our Name." In the popular music/indie rock realm, Rufus Wainwright on his latest album has a song, "Going To A Town." But it's more an expression of ennui at the state of affairs -- the refrain, "I'm so tired of you, America" -- than a song to be sung at rallies or marches. The most trenchant line: "You took advantage of a world that loved you well."
(By the way, Steven Bernstein and John Medeski play on the album's title tune, "Release the Stars.")

Maybe we won't have real and powerful songs about this era until Johnny and Jane do come marching home, and they're left to cope with their memories and scars while living in a society that was told to fight terrorism by shopping.

Mark Zaborney	
WBGU, 88.1FM
Bowling Green, Ohio
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