Monday, April 21, 2008

The Greatest Protest Song Ever


I don't listen to any current music. My car radio can locate only classic rock stations and NPR.

So I don't really know if this is true, but I suspect that there are no good songs that protest the current war.

Now, before some of my friends jump all over me, let me say that I more than appreciate the way in which the good people of our armed forces do their duty--in fact, I marvel at it. I also recognize the fact that the Iraq situation is a complicated one. While my personal opinion is that we probably should not have gone into Iraq in the first place, the fact is that we did and now we have to deal with the situation as it is.

Still, I grew up in the '60s and '70s and thus during the Vietnam Era and, although I was too young to be under the shadow of the draft during that time, I was aware of the angst that surrounded that conflict. I am also aware of how complicated that situation was.

But, whether you are a hawk or a dove, you have to admit that some great protest music came out of that era.

I think immediately of War by Edwin Starr, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag by Country Joe and the Fish, Give Peace a Chance by John Lennon, What's Going On by Marvin Gaye, Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Bring the Boys Home by Freda Payne.

To my way of thinking, though, the most effective protest song of the Vietnam era was Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town) which was written by Mel Tillis and recorded by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. It was effective because it personalized the situation, telling a story from the perspective of one badly wounded soldier who had returned home. You can watch and listen to it here.

If you do, you'll also wax nostalgic for miniskirts and boots!

2 comments:

The Beast said...

Mike,

This is beyond belief. I was preparing to post a blog called "The Brutality of Kenny Rogers" over at the Lair. You may remember our friend from Belmont Scott Bomar. I once made a comment to him that the most "brutal" recording artist I knew was Kenny Rogers and I cited Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town as my reference. Well, he thought I had lost my mind, but I still hold to that claim. His voice in that tune has an edge about it that has not been duplicted. Plus, Kenny Rogers is one of a handful of people who can talk in a song and not sound stupid. The famous "for God's sake turn around" line could only have been properly delivered by Kenny.

Mike Ruffin said...

What can I say? Great minds indeed work alike.