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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 2 April, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
US musicians rally round the flag
Young protester destroys Dixie Chicks CD
People have been destroying CDs by anti-war bands
The recording of patriotic US anthems for a charity single appears to reflect a mood of national pride among many Americans at a time of crisis.

The songs, I'm Proud To Be an American and God Bless the USA by country singer Lee Greenwood, are being covered by contestants on TV's American Idol following "overwhelming" public endorsement.

Tellingly, they ousted Burt Bacharach and Hal David's 1960s call to peace What The World Needs Now Is Love as the song of choice.

Recent publicity surrounding US musicians suggests that many citizens want them to rally round the flag - while having little time for artists whom they perceive to be unpatriotic.

Country superstars the Dixie Chicks were dropped overnight by a string of radio stations after singer Natalie Maines suggested they were ashamed that President Bush hailed from their home state of Texas.

The multi-million selling, Grammy-winning group's airplay plummeted - especially on the traditionally conservative southern country stations - and their records were burned and smashed by incensed patriots.

Madonna
Madonna has withdrawn her 'war' video
Madonna announced this week that she was withdrawing a promotional video for her forthcoming single, which shows her in combat gear and a grenade being hurled at a Mr Bush lookalike.

Earlier, the queen of pop had been forced to defend herself against mounting criticism with the release of a statement denying she was "anti-Bush" and insisting she was "pro-peace".

Meanwhile troubled R&B singer R Kelly, awaiting trial on child pornography charges, is releasing A Soldier's Heart, a tribute to the "courage" of US soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Bruce Springsteen was rewarded with a Grammy this year for his 11 September-inspired album The Rising, which seemed to capture the mood of loss and sorrow among many ordinary Americans.

Almost 20 years earlier, Springsteen's anti-Vietnam war commentary Born In The USA had been wrongly seized upon by many patriots as a gung-ho, stars-and-stripes anthem.

Ironically, his latest LP took the top spot from country singer Toby Keith's album containing a song called Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) - a celebration of the bombing of Afghanistan.

R Kelly
R Kelly is releasing a tribute to US troops
In contrast, Lenny Kravitz, REM and the Beastie Boys are among artists who have released anti-war songs in recent weeks.

In some cases the pro-peace contingent have been given short shrift by those who oppose their views.

Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Fred Durst made low-key protests at the Grammys, but were reportedly discouraged from making political comment.

Country rock singer Steve Earle was demonised in some quarters for his song John Walker's Blues, about John Walker Lindh, the "American Taleban".

Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a US court in October last year for fighting for the ousted regime in Afghanistan.

Earle was denounced as hating his country and being sympathetic towards anti-American interests.

Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen's The Rising album was inspired by 11 September
But left-leaning anti-war protest has been a feature of US rock music since the start of the Vietnam war in the 1960s.

Songs such as Country Joe and the Fish's I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag combined a cheery, upbeat melody with fiercely satirical lyrics about the futility of war.

One expert on US roots music says such anti-war protests can be traced back more than 60 years to the start of the second world war.

Colin Irwin, of Mojo magazine, cites folk singer Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land (1940) as one of the first recordings to challenge the existing notion of American patriotism.

"It was written as a bitter riposte to God Bless America, Irving Berlin's flag-waving anthem from 1939," said Mr Irwin.

"Guthrie's song in turn became adopted as a patriotic American song - which it was never intended to be.

Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow made her anti-war feelings known at the Grammys
"Ronald Reagan used it as his presidential campaign anthem during his second term, and it wasn't until Bruce Springsteen started doing it that the song's true meaning was reclaimed."

Contemporary artists like the Dixie Chicks are viewed by some as unpatriotic in the same way that Guthrie was, Mr Irwin added.

"It tends to be strongest in the conservative environment of the southern states which sees themselves as the heartland of America - representing the old values."




SEE ALSO:
American Idol raises US flag
02 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Dixies dropped over Bush remark
20 Mar 03  |  Entertainment
Madonna pulls 'war' video
01 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
R Kelly records song for US troops
02 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Stars speak out for peace
24 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
Springsteen's September songs
24 Feb 03  |  Entertainment


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