It is often said the war in Iraq is comparable to the Vietnam War, but there is one thing that is noticeably different — where are all the protest songs?Many of today’s musical artists are so worried about having a radio-friendly hit that they forgo writing any songs that have actual messages. Thankfully, some artists are willing to take that risk.
Now that the mid-term elections have come and gone, let’s take a look back at some of the most politically-charged songs to come out in the past year.
Although new songs from Steve Earle, the Flaming Lips, the Indigo Girls and P.F. Sloan contained political messages, we’re going to focus on songs from some of the more popular artists today.
Pink, the Dixie Chicks and John Mayer all released widely successful songs with a political message.
In what is perhaps the best song to be released this year, Pink asks President Bush to take a walk with her so she can point out all the mistakes he has made as the leader of this country.
The thing that stands out the most about “Dear Mr. President” is that Pink doesn’t go after the obvious issue of the war in Iraq, but instead focuses more on domestic issues.
“What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away/ And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay/I can only imagine what the first lady has to say/You’ve come a long way/From whiskey and cocaine,” are just a couple of the lyrics laced throughout the song.
The thing is, you can hear that Pink honestly believes every single word she is singing. It is not just a song released to gain attention.
She also tackles the “No Child Left Behind” policy along with the problems of homelessness and minimum wage.
But what has to be the biggest sting to the president is the closing lines of the song.
“How do you sleep at night/How do you walk with your head held high/Dear Mr. President/You’d never take a walk with me would you.”
Almost everyone can remember the remarks made by Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, about President Bush in 2003, and the controversy that soon followed.
The country music world, along with many Americans, decided the Chicks should no longer be heard on the radio and should apologize for the remarks.
The Chicks decided not to apologize and came back after a three-year hiatus with “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
In the song, they respond to some of the hate mail they received over the past three years with:
“I made by bed, and I sleep like a baby/ With no regrets and I don’t mind saying/ It’s a sad, sad story/That a mother will teach her daughter/That she ought to hate a perfect stranger/And how in the world/Can the words that I said/ Send somebody so over the edge/That they’d write me a letter/Saying that I better shut up and sing/Or my life will be over.”
The Chicks close the song with saying people are supposed to forgive and forget, and that “time heals everything,” though they are still waiting for that to happen.
In the last of the three songs profiled, John Mayer makes a return to pop/adult contemporary radio with the hit “Waiting on the World to Change.”
The thing that makes this song different is Mayer complains about the lack of the current generation’s political activeness, something he decides to set to the tune of his upbeat style.
“It’s hard to beat the system/When we’re standing at a distance/So we keep waiting/Waiting on the world to change/Now if we had the power/To bring our neighbors home from war/They would have never missed a Christmas/No more ribbons on their door/And when you trust your television/What you get is what you got/Cause when they own the information, oh/They can bend it all they want.”
While it is a commendable effort, Mayer decided to voice his dissatisfaction with the current generation’s political activeness or lack there of, resulting in a song that lacks substance.
The song’s flaw is that Mayer’s voice doesn’t display the same heartfelt emotions to the level of Pink and the Dixie Chicks.