Musicians Take Controversial, Risky Anti-War Stance
Rock musicians Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Pink, and others have begun putting their careers and reputations on the line in a potentially-career-ending show of opposition to the war in Iraq and the Bush Administration with the release of their latest albums.
The entertainers' radical stance comes as a shock to the majority of the majority of popular music fans, who tend to patriotically support the President and his Administration.
"By taking views contrary to popular opinion and in defiance of authority, these people are flirting with career-suicide," said concert promoter Jim Graham. "While Ted Nugent is seeing sales that almost surpass the numbers he put forth at the height of his popularity in the 70's, and Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the U.S.A' still rules the Billboard Top 40, an anti-war performer runs the risk of being ostracized by the musical community and alienating the public."
The musicians speaking out against the war in Iraq and the Bush agenda concede that their actions could result in decreased record sales and black-listing within the industry, but all believe so strongly in their cause that nothing will deter them.
"Nothing good ever came without risk," said Pearl Jam front-man Eddie Vedder, "and we knew that we'd be fighting an uphill battle back in '03 when we were pelted with objects and chased off the stage after I urged the audience in Buffalo, NY, 'Oppose the war, fight for peace!'"
Joining Pearl Jam in the new anti-war push is veteran rocker Neil Young. Having spent much of his career being tight-lipped and quietly supportive of the nation's leaders and institutions -- aside from his pro-war patriotic stance following the attacks of September 11th -- Young experienced what he calls an "awakening", which inspired the about-face towards his new anti-war message.
"I realized that by standing aside and not doing anything, I was profiting off an illegal war," said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer whose new anti-war album "Living With War" has already sold thousands of advance-copies. "After the popular backlash to my hit 'Ohio' in the early 1970's at the height of the pro-war movement, I swore that I'd never oppose another war, but a cause like this requires that I stick my neck out onto the chopping block, even if it means potentially losing thousands of fans who might not be expecting my new positions against nuclear energy, big corporations, Republicans and war."
Artists joining in the controversial anti-war movement include Kanye West, Anti-Flag and many others, which record industry insiders see as the reason as to why sales are down.
"It's because of the boycotts of these radical anti-war, peacenik songs that record sales are down for the fifth straight year," said Ben Williams, spokesperson for Sony Music. "If Green Day would have just stuck to singing about masturbation and being a loser, their album 'American Idiot' might have went somewhere, but that Bush-sucks, anti-Republicanism stuff just isn't going to sell these days. Kids don't want to hear about that."
Williams added that musicians should take a page out of Frank Sinatra's book and make jokes about Osama Bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda, the way Sinatra would lampoon those "commies" in his live performances during the Cold War.
"That's what sells -- patriotism," added Williams, "not Eminem's inflammatory [anti-Bush anthem] 'Mosh'."
Though artists risk irrelevance by standing by a controversial anti-war message, many have come out in support of each other. Said U2's outspoken front man Bono: "Everyone knows that if you want to sell songs, avoid such heavy topics as world hunger, civil rights or persecuted minorities. Since the beginning of rock and roll, songs that would have been classics like Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth', or the Youngblood's 'Let's Get Together' have reveled in obscurity, enjoyed only by those really willing to seek out a contentious message in music. Those same barriers exist now, and artists that dissent from the Bush agenda risk being chased out of the mainstream and ignored by their peers."
Bono stated that it's a a sign of the times that it took U2 25 years of music making to finally garner a Grammy, awarded to the band for its revolutionary 2005 album "How to Diffuse an Atomic Bomb".
"That's neglect of the highest order."