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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."