LifeStill Striking a ChordMusicians continue Just last year, pop singer Pink recorded ...
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POLITICO-Inside Page

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Published on: Mar 4, 2016

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  • 1. LifeStill Striking a ChordMusicians continue Just last year, pop singer Pink recorded a single – “Dear Mr. President” – as an “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” and John Michael response to that reaction. But as Bush enters his finalto play anti-Bush open letter to Bush, questioning his for- eign and domestic policies: “Let me tell Montgomery’s “Letters From Home.” But throughout Bush’s presidency, year as president, will musical art- ists soon shift their focus?messages during his you ’bout hard work/ Minimum wage with a baby on the frustration and anger at him have fueled the work of many other artists who are ef- “They’re gonna need to re- member that George Bush is notfinal year in office way/Let me tell you ’bout hard work/Re- building your house after the bombs took fectively immortalizing him in their music. “George Bush has become such an running in 2008,” said Rubenstein. “And to vilify him personally, them away.” iconic character. It makes sense that in I think is at this point a danger- By Chris Snyder And earlier this year, the punk band hip-hop lyrics you would use George ous tactic because, among other Sum 41 released the controversial “March Bush as metaphor, or as shorthand for a things, it gives the Republican The Dixie Chicks did it in 2003, Green of the Dogs,” in which the lead singer whole certain sort of people or attitudes,” candidates an opportunity to alsoDay in 2004 and Kanye West a year later. announces the fictitious death of the said Light. “50 Cent could say, ‘Got more distance themselves and presentEach received mass media attention not president. guns than George Bush,’ and you’d know themselves as, ‘Hey, well, that’sjust for winning a Grammy – although they Indie pop songstress Lily Allen had what he’s talking about.” your problem with George Bush,later accomplished that, too – but for speak- some harsh words for Bush at this year’s Tuesday marks the release date of and I’m not him.’”ing out bluntly against George W. Bush. V Festival in Stafford, England, and long- new albums by 50 Cent and West, both Sane said that there has been They’re among a number of musicians time Bush-basher Pearl Jam was censored of whom have strongly criticized Bush, some discussion of another collab-who have made Bush-bashing a recur- by AT&T last month during a webcast of though not necessarily in their lyrics. Two orative effort in 2008, but that it canrent theme of artistic expression. Punk, the group’s Chicago performance at Lol- years ago, West charged during a live Hur- be difficult with so many differentindie, hip-hop and even a few pop artists lapalooza. ricane Katrina relief benefit that “George views within that community.continue to send messages of dissatisfac- “George Bush, leave this world alone. Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Anti-Flag’s new album, hetion with the commander in chief, whose George Bush, find yourself another 50 Cent, who stated in an interview said, will take a broader approachapproval ratings hover around 35 percent home,” frontman Eddie Vedder sang to with GQ in 2005 that the president is “in- to social and political he heads into his final year in office. the tune of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” credible, … a gangsta,” recently tempered “To a certain degree, I think that “He’s such an easy target,” said Alan With Bush a lame duck, it’s possible that his statement in an interview with Rap-Up we are a little burnt out about writ-Light, former editor-in-chief of Vibe, Spin the musical movement against him may magazine. “He has less compassion than a ing songs about George Bush.”and Tracks magazines and a former senior have begun to fade. Certainly he’s had his regular human being,” said 50 Cent. Once offstage, Bush likely willwriter for Rolling Stone. “He exemplifies a musical defenders – or, more accurately, his “Bush serves as a condensation symbol fade as a musical target, but Sanelot of things people are angry about.” war policies have: Consider Toby Keith’s for all that is wrong about now. It can allow predicted that the music written for a lot of oblique references,” said Diane about him will resonate for many Rubenstein, professor of government and years. American studies at Cornell University “The war drew all these people and author of the upcoming book “This Is together. And as a result Not a President: Sense, Nonsense and the of finding each American Political Imaginary.” other because Punk bands in particular have a long they were history of incorporating political messag- against the es in their music. Through their albums war, they “American Idiot” and “War on Errorism,” branched Green Day and NOFX, respectively, out into trained their efforts on Bush. new areas A fan of punk music growing up, of activ- Rubenstein recalled politically charged ism. performances from her youth that had a “If we profound effect on her – but she notes a are looking weakness in today’s music. for a silver “All of these gestures of the protest lining of song which are speaking truth to power George Bush,” aren’t really operative in this new world, he added, “that … so they’re a very unsatisfying gesture. might be one It’s a very impotent rage or anger,” she of them.” said, stressing that there’s a wide gap AP between making statements and mobiliz-The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines (center) criticized President Bush and stirred controversy ing action.among country music fans and fellow musicians. Justin Sane, frontman for the punk band Anti-Flag, has been speaking out and mo- bilizing fans since the band’s founding in 1988. “Punk rock music has meaning in it; they’re angry about injustice, so that fits my MO very nicely,” said Sane. The Pittsburgh-based group was one of several punk bands that recorded singles on the two-volume CD compila- tion “Rock Against Bush,” a byproduct of Founded by NOFX frontman Fat Mike, PunkVoter encour- aged youth to rally against Bush in 2004. The movement was already under- way by then. In 2003, The Dixie Chicks made headlines as some of the first major country artists to speak outright against Bush at a concert in England: “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas,” said vocalist Natalie Maines. The backlash was instantaneous. Detractors and some former fans pilloried them for the remark – and some even AP AP made threats of violence. The Chicks’Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is a Anti-Flag’s Justin Sane (far right) says activists’ banding 2006 album and chart-topper “Not Readylongtime Bush-basher. together has been the “silver lining of George Bush.” to Make Nice” was the group’s angry

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