RAGE AGAINST THE (BUSH) MACHINE
Reading your editorial “Songs of Protest” [May 15] I had to chuckle. Did you really refer to the musicians as “courageous”? (I have to look again, just to confirm. OK, you did.) In what way are they courageous? Oh, you mean because they wrote pop lyrics criticizing the President and/or the war? Boy, that is courageous (shivers down my spine)–no one else would dare do that. And they did this in America? In America? Are you sure? And they got away with it? It’s a miracle they survived to collect their gawdy royalties. I’ll tell you what courageous would be: an Iraqi singing a Saddam Hussein protest song just four years ago. Or a Cuban singing a song to protest Castro’s treatment of gays. Now find me that artist, and I’ll be the first to call her courageous. (If you need help with her bail or exhumation expenses, just let me know.) Well, I’m inspired by these courageous troubadours of yours. I feel like doing something equally courageous. I think I’ll go to the grocery, buy sixteen items and stand in the express checkout lane. Or tip 14 percent the next time I dine out. I’ll let you know how it goes, if I survive to tell about it.
The Dixie Chicks, Neil Young and Pink do deserve credit for adding their voices to the dissent. However, you overlooked an incredible protest song by Dar Williams on her recent album, My Better Self. The song is titled “Empire” and its poetic lyrics are some of the most powerful statements I’ve heard on the policies of the Bush Administration.
Heber City, Utah
The Nation overlooked one of the clearest, most powerful voices against the reactionary policies of Bush and his cronies. Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes has been composing protests for a few years, culminating in his 2005 anthem “When the President Talks to God.” To wit: “When the President talks to God,/Does what God says ever change his mind?/Which voter fraud must be concealed, when the President talks to God?/While they pick which countries to invade,/Which Muslim souls still can be saved?/When the President talks to God, does he ever think that maybe he’s not?/Does he ever smell his own bullshit when the President talks to God?”
JOHN MARK KRENKEL
How could you omit Steve Earle from the list of artists? Someone needs to listen to the albums Jerusalem and The Revolution Starts Now.
I was all set to complain that no one ever mentions the punk rockers, who have been singing (or screaming) against Bush since the day he was selected. Then I saw that you named my favorite political band ever, Anti-Flag–a simply fantastic band. Other punk bands that do great political music are NOFX, Bad Religion, Propagandhi and the Descendents. (There’s more, but that’s a good start.) The album cover for The War on Errorism by NOFX is hilarious.