Throughout history, music has played a role in times of conflict. One of today's popular artists who has responded to the current situation in Iraq is Country star Clint Black by releasing a new single I Raq and Roll.
Texan Clint Black wrote I Raq and Roll with his longtime collaborator Hayden Nicholas. The song is only available as a free download from his website, www.clintblack.com. He explains what inspired them to compose I Raq and Roll.
"We were feeling great pride in America and thankfulness to the military who stands ready to defend our country, and help defend other peoples who want to be free," he said. "We're both big history buffs, and have a tremendous amount of respect for the veterans, all the way back to the founding fathers who have fought for this country and died, and those who continue to do it. We wanted them to have a song that said 'Thank you and we think you're the best, and take out the garbage and get home safely.'"
I Raq and Roll was written from a soldier's perspective. Clint talked about one of the most gratifying notes he's received in response to the song.
"I received an email that said, 'I just want you to know that I love your new song, I Raq and Roll. It's awesome. I sent the lyrics and download to my son who is on the USS Constellation in the Gulf. He emailed me back and said he played it on the aircraft carrier and all the sailors were cheering.' To know that they heard that means more to me than anything that anyone wants to say on the negative side," he said.
Other artists are using their celebrity to speak out against the war. Clint appreciates their First Amendment right, but feels it's destructive for the country to be divided now that the war has begun.
"Everyone has the right to do that. But I think that we need to keep our eye on the ball here at home, and don't forget that we are vulnerable to attack and that we'd be better served letting our president and our troops prosecute this war," he said. "History will bear out right from wrong, and they can place shame, if they will, at that point. But, right now, no protesting, no debate is going to change the decision, and I feel that we really need to just stand united. This is a war. We do have an emboldened enemy, and we need to stand together behind our troops and behind our president."
Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks, also from Clint Black's home state of Texas, recently made a uncomplimentary remark about President Bush to an audience in Europe. Many Country radio stations in the U.S. are boycotting the trio's music, and some fans are burning tickets they bought for the Dixie Chicks' upcoming concerts. Does Clint have any concerns about negative reaction to his song from those who oppose the situation in Iraq?
"I can only hope that people can see that I'm a fair-minded person, and I have respect for everyone's rights, and that I'm speaking from the heart, and not being bitter and resentful and hateful," he said. "That's not where I'm coming from. I'm trying to express my patriotism and hopefully that's what I'll be known for."
Following the September 11 attacks on America, Clint Black traveled overseas to perform for military troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. Although all USO and AFE (Armed Forces Entertainment) tours have been postponed until further notice, Clint hopes he'll soon have another opportunity to play for troops. In the meantime, he has this message for the men and women stationed in the Middle East.
"You're the best! Thank you for the sacrifices that you may make, the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "You won't be forgotten. We will do what we can to look after those you leave behind. Keep your head down, stay safe, you're the best and you do it for the best reason."
In addition to the free download of I Raq and Roll, Clint designed and is selling a T-shirt that bears a lyric from the song. All proceeds will go to children of American troops lost in the war.
I Raq and Roll recently made its debut on Billboard's Country Singles chart. In one week, it jumped up 22 positions on that list.