Saturday, September 30, 2006

Give War a Chance?

The five year anniversary of 9/11 has come and passed and much has been said by columnists and pundits everywhere about how things have changed since then. I'm wondering if there will be any mention in a few weeks of the five year anniversary of the Concert for New York City (10-20-01). I think that event could have been a tremendously important cultural turning point. In hindsight, it didn't signify anything long lasting, and may not even warrant a mention when the annivesary comes around.

It featured a few contemporary stars, but read like a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Reunion: The Who, Mick Jagger, Elton John, David Bowie, Springsteen, Clapton... the list went on and on. The headliner, the guy who went on last, was Paul McCartney. This was appropriate, considering the Beatles position as THE rock and roll band of all time, and with John and George no longer with us, Paul represents the Beatles.

What was amazing to me was that almost everyone came back on stage and joined in singing McCartney's then-new song "Freedom." The song was dismissed by critics at the time and is almost forgotten now, but I think people overlook some real surprises. It contains the lyrics: "This is my right/a right given by God" and "We will fight/for the right/to live in freedom" It is far from lyrically innovative, and musically it is basically a simple call and response. That night four years ago, the pantheon of rock stars joined in the call and response and sang these words over and over.

What other song comes to mind that fits these criteria: 1)By a Beatle 2)Simple lyrics (at least in the chorus)? 3) Call and response melody 4) Performed by a plethora of guest stars. How about "Give Peace a Chance"? Lennon, of course, was a pacifist who in his song "Imagine" envisioned a world without religion or war.

Along comes Paul McCartney years later and performs a song giving credit to God for the idea of freedom and encouraging people to fight for that freedom. In effect, "Give War a Chance." To add to the symbolism, Eric Clapton performed on "Give Peace a Chance" when it was recorded in Toronto during John and Yoko's "Bed in for Peace." Not only was Clapton performing "Freedom" with McCartney in NYC, but Macca even asked him to take a guitar solo.

This moment may have, for a brief time, represented the end of any relevance anti-Vietnam residual leftist thought had in America. However, a few months later we were in Iraq and McCartney noticeably does not perform the song anymore. Lennon's position of angry anti-war and leftist rhetoric has been picked up by contemporary artists such as Green Day and Kanye West. Neil Young, who spoke of "turning on evil when it's coming after you" in his post 9/11 song "Let's Roll," is now back to "Let's Impeach the President". People speak of the Iraq War as turning the world or the nation upside down, but in one strange sense, it's kind of turned things back to normal.


Blogger Enjoy_Every_Sandwich said...

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7:55 PM  

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