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Last Updated:  Saturday, 1 March, 2003, 16:55 GMT
Michael praised for protest cover
George Michael on the BBC's Hardtalk
George Michael has been outspoken in his views
Songwriter Don McLean has praised George Michael's decision to record a cover version of an anti-war track he wrote in protest against the US-led Vietnam War.

Michael, who has spoken out against preparations for a possible attack against Iraq, is recording the harrowing song The Grave which will be played by MTV UK and Ireland from Monday.

McLean, famous for his hits American Pie and Vincent (Starry, Starry Night), said he was "proud of George Michael for standing up for life and sanity".

"I am delighted that he chose a song of mine to express these feelings," he said in a statement.

"We must remember that the Wizard is really a cowardly old man hiding behind a curtain with a loud microphone.

"It takes courage and a song to pull the curtain open and expose him. Good luck George."

The Grave was recorded for McLean's 1971 album, American Pie, which stayed in the UK charts for over a year.


Michael has left the hard-hitting lyrics largely unchanged for his version of the song, which he has already performed on Channel 4's V Graham Norton.

Don McLean
When the wars of our nation did beckon,
A man barely 20 did answer the calling.
Proud of the trust that he placed in our nation,
He's gone,
But Eternity knows him,
and it knows what we've done.

Don McLean's The Grave
Brent Hansen, chief executive of MTV Networks Europe, previously said: "George Michael has a history of expressing strong personal views, with inimitable creativity and conviction that resonates with MTV Europe audiences."

The former Wham! star, is one of the most high profile celebrities to have spoken out about the Iraq crisis.

He has also apologised to young pop artists for calling on them to abandon their plans for a new Band Aid-style charity song.

He had told BBC's Hardtalk programme that chart stars were too manufactured and trivial for any song to carry weight.

But on Friday's Channel 4's Richard And Judy show he said: "I think I was being a musical snob.

"I had a conversation with my sister today and she actually reminded me that it's not just about stopping this war, it's about keeping the pressure on."

Michael has been criticised in the press after his video for his last single, Shoot the Dog, showed Tony Blair as a poodle on the White House lawn.

Michael also performed an anti-war version of his hit Faith with Ms Dynamite at the Brit Awards.

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