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The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind
While not exclusively a music censorship issue, it is important to note the unusual
and unpredicted role that music played in the antiwar movement following
September 11
. As in past military conflicts involving the United States, many
musicians attempted to play a central role in supporting the government and
troops overseas, while others chose to represent expressions of dissent. Almost
unilaterally, protest music after September 11
failed to make much of a signifi-
cant impact on the discussion in the United States.
There were a significant number of antiwar songs recorded and released by
musicians, including Zack de la Rocha and DJ Shadow 's "March of Death, "
R.E.M.'s "The Final Straw," "We Want Peace" by Lenny Kravitz , Billy Bragg 's
"The Price of Oil," "In A World Gone Mad" by The Beastie Boys , John Mellencamp 's
"To Washington," Mick Jones' "Why Do Men Fight?" and Cat Stevens ' rerecorded
version of his classic hit "Peace Train ."
Yet of all these albums only System of a Down 's "Boom", which was originally
written years before about Operation Desert Storm and released on the band's
2002 album Steal This CD, saw significant distribution and airplay. Regardless of
the reason, most antiwar music failed to ignite much interest among antiwar
advocates on even the most grassroots level.
The pinnacle of protest music's power as a political and social communicator
was during the Vietnam Era. The Vietnam conflict produced a plethora of classic,
widely popular, and enduring songs, such as Edwin Starr 's "War," John Lennon 's
"Give Peace A Chance," Country Joe 's "Fixin' To Die Rag," "Bad Moon Rising" by
Creedence Clearwater Revival , and Marvin Gaye 's "What's Goin' On?" However,
that history has not carried over to later conflicts.
Some have theorized that this less significant position is because the music
created during later military actions lacked the urgency and personal sacrifice of
the Vietnam Era, when the war was far more unpopular and a military draft was
pulling a large number of unwilling young people into service.
Others, such as
Audioslave 's Tom Morello and System of A Down's Serj Tankian, have bemoaned
the deregulation of the music industry and the alleged corporatization of record
label rosters and station playlists. These circumstances, they argue, contribute to
the lack of protest music. They suggest that radio stations and corporate record
companies are unwilling to court controversy or do business with artists express-
ing unpopular political ideas. Michael Stark , a producer for the nationally syndi-
cated Tom Joyner Radio Program, echoed these thoughts, saying "I don't think it
will be anything like radio during the Vietnam War when radio was the voice of