Birth of a Protest Song and a Time Out
It's time to stand down for a few days. As usual with me, it's not a matter of needing a break. It's more of a lingering concern that I don't want to stop. Sometimes you have to force yourself to walk away in the interests of your own mental well-being. Ahh, why be so dramatic? I'll explain later - sometime on Wednesday - what happened.
Plan A was to have a new protest song done, but that has been postponed. It's not like the old days when I would strike at any hour of the day or night. Back then I could rescue a wasted day at the last second, often turning on the recorder after midnight. Of course, some of those sessions were a little hazy, if you know what I mean. Hell, oftentimes they were just recordings of parties with whomever was around wailing away on vocals. I remember listening back the next day to one particularly rowdy version of "Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again" by Kris Kristofferson - who incidentally used to live at the Dhahran air base near where I was born in Arabia. I was butchering the lyrics in a drunken, stoned - although quite impassioned - vocal presentation. The words came out:
"I can see her in the faces and the burned out empty places in my mind." I always remembered that phrase: "The burned out empty places in my mind." And they say there's only one Bob Dylan.
Actually, Bob Dylan was in Portland the night I wrote these next lyrics. Talk about being pretentious - the greatest lyricist of all time is performing several miles away, and I'm sitting in my basement cranking out the words to this piece of crap song. Actually, this one is okay because it's honest. In a political climate that needs screaming about, all we're getting from this generation is bling. Where's the great protest songs? Vince Gill has a new one called "Take Our Country Back", but it's about taking country music back to its roots. That says it all, doesn't it?
Am I missing something? This past week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act into law. It was the last piece of legislation rammed through because of the War on Terror. John Ashcroft recently said we must trust that President Bush won't misuse these powers - powers that basically mean he can arrest anyone at anytime without charges and hold that person indefinitely while torturing them. Listen, if you want to rely on trusting the all-powerful person in charge, then go live in a dictatorship. Or stay here. Same difference. Our system was designed to check the power of the people in charge, but that's all gone now. Put your trust in these people - are you crazy? The fact that they asked for these powers means they can't be trusted. It means they didn't protect the Constitution.
In a recent episode of the Born to Slack cable show, my co-host James Shibley and I finally put some original stuff together in real time. 130 episodes in, we finally winged some gold. Here are several points that I'll remember from that free-flowing rant:
1. The Bush administration loves to say the terrorists hate us for our way of life. The President also says 9/11 changed everything. What is really going on is that 9/11 didn't have to change everything - the Bush administration used 9/11 to change everything. If the terrorists hate us for our way of life, then changing our way of life is the same as appeasing the terrorists. If we really wanted to fight them, we would remain as free as before.
2. The macho-sounding tough talk of the right wing actually is incredible cowardice. They're saying we should be so afraid that we give up our freedoms, but what are we really afraid of? As I said on the show, "When you and your family get in the Suburu to go watch some Hollywood piece of s***, do you look at your wife and say,'Honey, which way should we drive to the theater today so we can avoid al Qaeda?'"
3. The fact is we're not really being threatened like villages used to be when the Vikings or the Roman Empire attacked. So we're giving up our freedoms for fears that aren't really that immediate. We're giving up our freedoms based on talk of being afraid. Contrast that with the generations before us - they really faced some serious situations and showed unbelievable courage.
4. This led to a riff of the concept of Liberty Sluts - giving it up too easy. And thus a protest song was born. I recorded one version, then I dumped it and started again. I wanted it faster because it just wasn't sounding angry enough. Here are the words. I'll be back on the blog in a few days:
Why are you so scared?
You give your own freedom away
It’s painful to watch you
sell out the USA
What about the men who fought
on Omaha Beach?
You’re letting what they died for
slip out of reach.
It’s such a disgrace
and you’re so cowardly
You call yourselves patriots
but you’re the worst enemy
You’re Liberty Sluts. You’re giving it up.
Way too easily, you’re Liberty Sluts
The fate of a nation,
comes down to moments like this
but you don’t want the hassle
so you blow it off with a kiss
What about the men who froze
at Valley Forge?
Now you’re going to sell them out for King George?
You’ll never be safe if you’re no longer free
You should try growing a pair for Liberty
You’re Liberty Sluts
You’re giving it up
Way too easily,
You’re Liberty Sluts.
See you down the road.