Volume 96, Issue 94
Thursday, March 27, 2003

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When free music and free speech collide

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

From "Yankee Doodle" to "Blowin' in the Wind," war-themed songs have had a long tradition. Today's musicians have taken to the Web to spread their opinions on the war with Iraq, offering new, full-length recordings free on their Web sites.

Ani DiFranco: "Self-Evident"

A mostly spoken-word piece with a grooving instrumental backdrop, this poem features DiFranco's trademark stop-spew delivery as she passionately rants on several issues – the biggest applause comes when she states that Mr. Bush is not president.

Sample lyric: "... get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand / of someone else's desert / put it back in his pants."

Beastie Boys: "In a World Gone Mad"

Standard Beasties, aside from some industrial flourishes. There's little that's musically outstanding and the lyrics are all over the place, touching on corporations, lies and making a comparison between George Dubya and Derek Zoolander. Huh?

Sample lyric: "Let's lose the guns and let's lose the bombs / And stop the corporate contributions that they're built upon."

Billy Bragg: "Price of Oil"

A Billy Bragg song is pretty much expected here. Over some gorgeous guitar-picking, Bragg's vocals are loud and clear as he sings his very direct and to-the-point lyrics.

Sample lyric: "Don't give me no shit about blood, sweat, tears and toil / It's all about the price of oil."

Chumbawamba: "Jacob's Ladder (Not in My Name)"

Originally a song on their latest album, Chumbawamba have rewritten this track as a single that includes a sampled guitar pattern, a rich hip-hop beat and a portion sung to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Sample lyric: "And they sent him to the wars to be slain, to be slain / And they sent him to the wars to be slain."

Clint Black: "I Raq and Roll"

Surprise! The bulk of "Pro-America" hits are country songs. Black's latest creation has a terribly "punny" title, but its weighty verses and heavy blues influence make it a good stomp-along, as Black claims to be a high-tech GI Joe.

Sample lyric: "If they won't show us their weapons, we might have to show them ours."

Green Day: "Life During Wartime"

A cover of a Pinhead Gunpowder song, this bummed-out acoustic guitar track about feeling helpless during the war was quickly recorded by singer Billie Joe Armstrong in the studio and made available online.

Sample lyric: "Without a crowd I'm not so loud / I can't do anything by myself / But that's just another lie."

Meshell Ndegeocello: "Forgiveness & Love"

Written after 9/11, but only recently released, this tune sets Ndegeocello's deep and cool vocals against sparse electronics and a reggae rhythm, as she contemplates justice, love and peace.

Sample lyric: "Now my brothers wear their uniforms / Who, God, you fight for? / Let me tell you who you kill for."

Paula Cole: "My Hero, Mr. President!"

A sarcastic home demo and country song parody that is both catchy and hilarious. The highlight is when Cole's breathy voice coyly remarks, "We can all wear our geothermal suits and toast to YOU, Dubya!"

Sample lyric: "I love the way you take control and push the world around / United Nations? Hahaha! No one can keep you down!"

Zack De La Rocha & DJ Shadow: "March of Death"

The ex-Rage front man returns; even better, he returns with the amazing DJ Shadow who provides the fuzzy, hip-hop beats and out-of-this-world scratching.

Sample lyric: "Who let the cowboy on the saddle? / He don't know a missile from a gavel."


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