News / Arts & Entertainment

Slaid Cleaves Reflects on Struggles of War Veterans

Slaid Cleaves (credit: Karen Cleaves)
Slaid Cleaves (credit: Karen Cleaves)
Katherine Cole
Born in a small town in rural Maine, singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves now calls Austin, Texas home. Not that he’s there much - the former philosophy student is a 20th century troubador, spending most of the year traveling and playing his songs at venues in the U.S. and overseas.  “Still Fighting the War,” is Cleaves' first album of new songs in four years.

Over the past two decades, Cleaves has won acclaim for his songs about the small-town, working-class men and women just struggling to get by…like the ones he’s singing about in “Rust Belt Fields.”

“Rust Belt Fields” is one of two songs on “Still Fighting the War” that Cleaves co-wrote with childhood friend and fellow singer-songwriter Rod Picott. When the two first wrote together, they’d sit down face-to-face. But between living in different cities and busy touring schedules, they are rarely in the same place these days.
 
“So we send ideas back and forth on emails or texts or whatever," Cleaves said. "And we’ll send little melodic ideas, just little snippets, sound files. And we’ll send partial songs. For instance, usually one of us will work real hard on a song and only get halfway through and not know how to finish it. And that’s when we’ll bring it to our friend and see if a fresh set of eyes can kind of spark the completion of the song.”

Slaid Cleaves' Album Reflects on War Veterans' Struggles
Slaid Cleaves' Album Reflects on War Veterans' Strugglesi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Rod Picott’s father worked as a welder, and he and Cleaves bring that difficult and physically demanding work to life in a song called “Welding Burns.”

The original inspiration for the title track to “Still Fighting the War” came from a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning photos of Iraq War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a song that ended up taking Cleaves four years to write.  

x
“I’d seen stories in the news about vets coming back and having a hard time and you know, frankly, I knew…I remember writing down in a notebook when we went to war in Iraq… I said ’10 years from now, we’re going to have Iraq War vets on every street corner, they’re going to be homeless," he said. "They’re going to be having a hard time adjusting. It’s going to be the Vietnam situation all over again.’ I wanted to write a song that kind of told their story. Not to advocate or anything. But just tell their story - that people are having a hard time coming back.”

A note on Cleaves’ website says proceeds from downloads of that song go to Operation Homefront, an organization providing assistance to service members and their families.
    
There are some lighter moments on “Still Fighting the War.” “God’s Own Yodeler” is a tribute to the late Don Walser, a Texas country singer known as the Pavarotti of the Plains. And the tune called “Texas Love Song” is exactly that.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Susan
July 10, 2013 5:49 PM
Mr. Cleaves,

Thank you for the song regarding our returning service members/veterans.

I have an elderly family member that is 100% service connected and is "still fighting the war". He has had a guardian for many years and he is also fighting for his life in that he has been physically, psychologically, and emotionally abused and neglect by those who have been appointed to care for him.

Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.