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|Country Singer’s Ballad to Lindh Targeted|
|07/27/02 at 11:19:09|
|Country Singer’s Ballad to Lindh Targeted by Conservatives |
Country music singer Steve Earle.
WASHINGTON, July 27 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) - A new country song offering an empathetic view of American Taliban John Walker Lindh is drawing both praise and ire just days after the 21-year-old American Muslim pleaded guilty to aiding the former Afghan regime.
Recorded in Nashville by the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Steve Earle, "John Walker's Blues" is a stately ballad sung from Lindh's perspective and makes reference to Lindh's interest in music videos, boy bands, and religion.
It features Earle's recitation of an Arabic prayer and ends with a reading from the Qur’an.
The song is featured on Earle's forthcoming album "Jerusalem," due out in September, which touches on a number of political and social issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, political conspiracies and legislation Earle regards as reactionary, reports CNN.
It offers a rare sympathetic view of Lindh, the Californian dubbed the "American Taliban" after he was captured fighting alongside troops of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers in November.
In one verse Earle sings, "I'm just an American boy, raised on MTV, And I've seen all the kids in the soda pop bands, but none of them look like me. So I started looking round, and I heard the word of God. And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word of Allah, Peace be upon him."
In Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music, some commentators quickly labeled the song unpatriotic - par for the course, they say, for an alternative country singer who has long challenged the down-home platitudes of mainstream country music, which generally follows a more conservative line.
"This puts him in the same category as Jane Fonda and John Walker and all those people who hate America," says Nashville talk show host Steve Gill, saying the song "celebrates and glorifies a traitor to this country."
"We'll give it airplay once and then it's going into the dustbin of history, where it belongs. I'm not surprised that Steve's singing about that traitor. I'm going to play it just once, and then we'll rip the shred out of it. This is not gonna be a big hit for Steve.
"Most people have not heard the song yet, so the level of outrage is diminished by a lack of information."
Earle has joked that he's thinking about leaving the country once the CD is released in September, and he told an audience at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario earlier this month: "This song just may get me ... deported."
The ruckus over the Lindh song marks a return to the political spotlight for Earle, who irritated the Nashville establishment for years, calling himself a Marxist and joining the movement to abolish the death penalty as well as the campaign against land mines.
Earle's supporters say the outspoken singer will welcome controversy.
"He's a big guy," says Grant Alden, publisher of the magazine No Depression, which specializes in alternative country music. "He can take care of himself if anyone confronts him on the issue."
Bill De Main, a Nashville-based music writer and lead singer for the band Swan Dive, says Earle's political leanings "probably finished him off in mainstream country."
Artemis Records’ outspoken chief Danny Goldberg encouraged the new album’s political agenda, which comes at a time of corporate conservatism.
Earle is presently on vacation in Europe and was unavailable for comment. He has said that the new material serves as his response to the more reactionary elements of post-Sept. 11 politics.
In a press statement accompanying "Jerusalem," seemingly anticipating accusations of being unpatriotic, Earle said, "I'm trying to make clear that wherever he [Lindh] got to, he didn't arrive there in a vacuum."
"I don't condone what [Lindh] did. ... My son Justin is almost exactly Walker's age. Would I be upset if he suddenly turned up fighting for the Islamic Jihad? Sure, absolutely. Fundamentalism, as practiced by the Taliban, is the enemy of real thought, and religion, too." But, he said, "The culture here didn't impress [Lindh], so he went looking for something to believe in.
"I'm not trying to get myself deported or something. In a big way this is the most pro-American record I've ever made. I feel urgently American," CNN reported.
Some New Yorkers who heard an advance copy of the Lindh song said they were enthusiastic, reported news agencies.
"Steve Earle is standing up against the new patriotism, the 'You're with us or you're against us' mentality," said Joan Hirsch, manager of Revolution Bookstore, which stocks anti-war pamphlets and leftist literature, reported news agencies.
Columnist David Corn, of the progressive weekly The Nation, in criticizing Earle’s detractors who call the song sympathetic to Lindh, says, “The tune is ‘sympathetic’ only in the sense it seeks to understand how Lindh viewed himself. It praises neither Lindh nor his choices. It does not recommend that others emulate him. The anti-Earle criticism shows that those eager to root out traitors often don't have time to think.”
Of the song, Corn says, “This is storytelling,” continuing, “But since the song does not blast Lindh…it's deemed a pro-Taliban anthem.”
Currently, American songs dealing with the aftermath of September 11 have been heavily patriotic. However, other artists may be following Earle’s lead.
Bruce Springsteen's upcoming album, "The Rising," contains many stories about the aftermath of Sept. 11. Yet it also contains a song, "Paradise," written in part from a “suicide bomber's” perspective.
And across the ocean, in the U.K., pop-star George Michael recently caused controversy with the release of his single “Shoot the Dog,” which lampoons the U.S. response to the September 11 attacks and the "special relationship" between the United States and Britain.
The video depicts British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a poodle being petted on the White House lawn by U.S. President George W. Bush.
funny... :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/ :-/
Lyrics to 'John Walker's Blues' by Steve Earle
I'm just an American boy raised on MTV
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God
If my daddy could see me now - chains around my feet
He don't understand that sometimes a man
Has to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great all praise due to him
And if I should die I'll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him
We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan some secret not revealed
Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel
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