Protest songs against Bush and Iraq war

Journalists of British daily The Guardian have made a list of protest songs. All of them in the English language.

I ‘ll reproduce some of that list on this blog. Not exactly in the same way as they did. Eg, they have options to listen to songs on Spotify, which is not available in all countries.

And I have added links. And grouped the songs according to themes. The theme of this entry is protest songs against George W. Bush and the Iraq war.

[At first, searching the Internet with “Bright Eyes – When The President Talks To God” I did not find a video of this song. However, I did with “Oberst – When The President Talks To God”. Strange quirks in Google searches sometimes]

When the President Talks to God Bright Eyes 2005.

Conor Oberst, aka Bright Eyes, campaigned for John Kerry on 2004’s Vote for Change tour, although his records made sure his political persuasions were never in doubt. This B-side, which he chose to play on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno rather than promote an album, was as furious an attack on George Bush as any. Riffing on Dubya’s imagined relationship with God, Oberst lists (and it’s a long list) all the president’s failings with a brooding intensity and anger. WD

Rainin’ in Paradize Manu Chao 2007.

Critics might scoff that Chao is little more than the patron saint of scruffy Eurorailers. But there’s little denying the strident urgency of this lead track from his most recent album, with its shrill guitars and provocative statements such as: “In Baghdad, it’s no democracy/ That’s just because… it’s a US country!” … CLS

16 Military Wives The Decemberists 2005.

Colin Meloy and his gang of hardy Oregonians had spent their first two albums singing songs about rueful actors and Keith Waterhouse plays; but their breakout 2005 record, Picaresque, and this, its breakout hit, lifted them into a firmament of young American musicians sick of war and lies. The story of a feckless media and the men being sent to fight dumb wars is encapsulated in Meloy’s spruce denigration of facile 21st-century American culture. WD

Dixie Chicks

Not Ready to Make Nice Dixie Chicks 2006.

Now George Bush is widely considered the worst US president in history, it’s easy to forget that when Dixie Chicks criticised the impending invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was an American hero. It provoked a vicious backlash, resulting in the de facto blacklisting of the band. This was their response. The music is standard mid-pace pop-country, but the lyrics crackle with anger. A genuinely moving song by three women brave enough to say what they thought when few others would. CC

American Idiot Green Day 2004.

More popular in the UK than the US, this lead single from the album of the same name was an open and uncomplicated assault on the policies of the Bush administration and the attitudes that sustained them. “Well maybe I’m the faggot America,” sang Billie Joe Armstrong, “I’m not a part of a redneck agenda.” Despite obvious pop overtones, this track, in its simplicity and ferocity, can lay legitimate claim to being punk music in the original sense. PMac

The Proud Talib Kweli 2002.

Not since Public Enemy were at their peak has a rapper packed his rhymes with such political force, even if The Proud’s musical tone is markedly more mellow than anything the Bomb Squad cooked up. “The president is Bush, the vice-president’s a Dick/ So a whole lot of fuckin’ is what we gon’ get,” was the lightest moment on a song that raged against black poverty, post-9/11 patriotism, media manipulation and police racism. SY

BYOB System Of A Down 2005

The most committed agitprop band ever signed to a corporate label, these Armenian-Californian metalheads hit satirical paydirt with this protest single against the Iraq war. The dark comedy comes from the boy-band pop chorus and its invitation to a desert party where, as the title implies, American soldiers bring their own bomb. But the point is the song’s rabid positing of the age-old question: “Why don’t presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?” GM

Dad’s Gonna Kill Me Richard Thompson 2007.

In his long and illustrious career, Thompson has seldom written anything that could be construed as a protest song before this searing indictment of the Iraq war. The “Dad” in the title is Baghdad and, over searing guitar, Thompson’s novel ploy is to use the actual language of serving soldiers to paint a gory picture of their misery, fear and bewilderment. Its raw power has earned equal measures of hatred and gratitude from the families of those he’s singing about. CI

Top 16 Songs Protesting Bush & the War in Iraq: here.

US army soldier convicted of killing Iraqi detainees. Jury finds John Hatley guilty of execution-style slayings of four bound and blindfolded Iraqi detainees in 2007: here.

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children: here.

1 thought on “Protest songs against Bush and Iraq war

  1. Dear Supporter,

    IVAW Feels the Fallout of the Madoff Scandal – Can you help?

    Many of you have been hearing about numerous non-profits who do great work being affected by the poor economy and the Madoff Scandal, in particular. In fact, you may be feeling the squeeze yourself. Our last E-newsletter let you know that a foundation that funds IVAW cut the grant it had promised us by more than half due to its investments with Madoff. Now, a month later, we are still struggling to make up the difference. At a time when IVAW organizing is picking up steam (see exciting updates below), we have made some deep budget cuts, including cutting staff to remain on solid financial footing, and we could really use your help now to get us through this difficult period. IVAW needs to raise $15,000 in April to keep our doors open. If each week this month, 100 people donate between $25 and $50, we can do it. Will you help? Click here to make a tax-deductible donation. We are grateful for your ongoing support, and we will keep you posted on the progress we make together toward this goal.

    Message From the Front Lines of Iraq: “The War is Not Over”

    As the country moves its attention away from Iraq, we in IVAW know that Obama’s tentative plan for 50,000 residual forces to remain in Iraq for 20 or more months is indefensible. I want to share with you a recent email IVAW received from an active duty soldier who is home on leave from Iraq:

    Hello my name is __________ i just recently returned from my tour of duty and i have alot of things on my chest that i would like to get off…. i am still stuck in the army for almost 1 more year facing stop loss orders to redeploy to OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] and i would love to join your organization and speak out against the war crimes that ive been forced to commit in the name of our great country …. i am more than willing to speak out against what ive seen in Al Sadr City combat March 08 through March 09 … i ask that you please contact me i have various combat footage from my AO that clearly shows the US military breaking the rules of the Geneva Conventions and i am more than willing to speak out even tho i am still on Active duty status. ive applied for CO [Conscientious Objector] status and been denied and even been insulted by my units leadership for doing so i would greatly appreciate a response….

    For this Army Private, and thousands of others like him in Iraq, the ongoing occupation is very real with very real consequences. With so much still at stake in Iraq, IVAW is continuing to organize for immediate and complete withdrawal, full rights and benefits for returning troops, and reparations for the Iraqi people.

    IVAW Returns from historic Labor Conference in Erbil, Iraq

    While IVAW organizes to end the military occupation and bring our troops home from Iraq, we also persist in shining a spotlight on the other side of the occupation that is rarely mentioned in the press – the U.S.-led foreign control of Iraq’s economy. IVAW representatives Aaron Hughes and TJ Buonomo have returned from the First International Iraqi Labor Conference, where Iraq’s labor unions – the main force resisting the economic occupation – came together to unify. The gathering brought together labor leaders from all sectors of Iraq’s economy representing 15 of 18 provinces to improve the living conditions of Iraqi working families and build the political power of the Iraqi labor movement. The conference passed several resolutions, including one calling for respect for and protection of labor and union rights and another critical of the pending Iraqi oil legislation.

    Members, TJ Buonomo and Aaron Hughes address participants at the conference on behalf of IVAW.

    Click here to see a short interview with Aaron Huges as he describes the dramatic moment when he and fellow member, TJ Buonomo, addressed the audience.

    Read more here for a detailed report about the conference.

    MTV Real World episode features IVAW

    For all you Real World fans, you may have been following the story of Ryan, an Iraq veteran and cast member. In this recently-aired episode, he attends an IVAW benefit in NYC promoting our book, Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations. The clip also features IVAW board member, Geoff Millard and Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead addressing the crowd.

    IVAW Winter Soldiers continue to tell their stories

    Since the first hearings took place in March of 2008, IVAW continues to collect veterans’ stories of their experiences of war. IVAW chapters have held six local Winter Soldier testimony events. Two more hearings were held so far in 2009. Austin IVAW organized hearings held at Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin, TX on February 28. 300 people attended, with over 100 coming from as far as Oklahoma City. The testimony of twelve veterans and military family members was organized into two panels: “The Reality of Occupation” and “The War Comes Home.” Following the hearings, participants marched to city hall and held an outdoor rally.

    Then on March 15, Winter Soldier Europe took place in Freiburg, Germany and included testimony from U.S., British, and German troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Watch this clip of former British corporal, Martin Webster, telling his story.

    Two GI Coffee Houses provide information and respite near military bases

    IVAW members participated in the grand opening of Under the Hood outreach center and cafe in Kileen, TX near Ft. Hood on February 29. It is run by Cindy Thomas, who is married to a soldier there. The mission of Under the Hood is to promote uncensored information sharing among active duty and reserve military personnel and civilians, including referrals, and GI rights counseling.

    IVAW members also have been instrumental in starting Coffee Strong Cafe near Ft. Lewis, WA. The cafe provides free information, computer use and wifi and was created to provide a space for info-sharing about the issues facing service members, veterans, and military family members. Check out this local news story on the cafe.

    Thank you for your continued support.

    Kelly Dougherty
    Executive Director
    Former Sergeant, Colorado Army National Guard


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.