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Protest Music: It’s the New Black


The new album out today from the never-afraid-to-be-politcal Pearl Jam is entitled simply "Pearl Jam," and includes the song "World Wide Suicide:"  

It’s a shame to awaken, world aflame
What does it mean when the war has taken over?
It’s the same everyday and the wave won’t break
Tell you to pray, while the devil’s on their shoulder

Eddie Vedder spoke about the song in a recent Rolling Stone interview:

Why do you think the musical community has been so quiet recently about the war, about the president? Or maybe you don’t think that?

I’m not sure what’s out there. People like Steve Earle are a great example. He goes on Bill O’Reilly. It’s beyond commendable. It’s gutsy and I think a lot of it, it doesn’t get heard. Or maybe people don’t like to mess up a good time. I mean, we could talk about it in this interview, and it might not be the part that gets in. We could talk about Democrats and why they aren’t leading an anti-war movement. Are they waiting for a shift in the polls? We could talk about our country in ways outside the war, like why they refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, in regard to environment. Why aren’t we agreeing to strengthen the conventions on biological weapons? Why haven’t we signed the ban on landmines? Why haven’t we banned the use of napalm? They refuse to be subject to the jurisdictions of the International Criminal Court. They can get away with anything. If you highlighted the classic aspects of this war, find out who’s fighting and who’s dying, and why are there billions of dollars being spent on this war and schools are crumbling and 45 million people in the US don’t have health insurance? This is all stuff I’ve been reading in a book on Iraq called The Logic of Withdrawal by Anthony Arnove. It seems like it’s a class issue, because there are things going on underneath this spectacle of war, and the Bush administration is using it as a distraction for the ills of this country that are being not only ignored but exacerbated. But, is anybody else saying that in interviews, and are they being edited? I’m not sure. Right now, we are in a situation where the "Worldwide Suicide" song is getting airplay, and three years ago that might not have happened. After 9/11, they took "Imagine" off the air! It’s interesting…I’m not sure why.

A lot of artists want to speak out but their managements clamp down for fear of having them "Dixie Chicked" by the right.  It’s to Pearl Jam’s credit that they step out anyway. 

They’ll be on the The Late Show with David Letterman this Thursday, and CBS will be streaaming the full concert from the Ed Sullivan Theater on the Late Show Web Site, starting at 5:55 pm EDT/2:55m PDT.

Buy the album here.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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