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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 11:06 GMT
Brown faces musical protest

Bob Dylan did it. The Beatles did it. Billy Bragg does it endlessly.

But the reputation of the protest song as a traditional preserve of angry voices on the left is under attack thanks to two veteran rock stars.


You give with one hand and take it with the other, shatter your dreams then you run for cover

Lyrics from the song
Thirty-six years since the Beatles first sang Taxman, Chancellor Gordon Brown has come under the musical cosh from Kenny Jones - of Small Faces and The Who fame - and Rick Wills, formerly of Foreigner.

Inspired by the fuel protests which plunged Tony Blair's government into crisis before the last election, the song declares:

"Mr Brown you are robbing me, unattached emotionally - is there a colour to the sky in your world?

"You give with one hand and take it with the other, shatter your dreams then you run for cover, got me hanging on to your every single word."

'Daylight robbery'

Kenny Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the song came about after he heard that a record lampooning German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had hit the top of the German pop charts.


We are paying so many different stealth taxes in this country and I think it's about time someone stood up and said something about it

Kenny Jones
The song, called Tax Song (Der Steuersong), reached number one a week after it was released.

Mr Jones told Today he had nothing against Mr Brown personally, but said he believed the chancellor was failing to listen to the people.

"The reason this record came about was stimulated by the fuel crisis," he said. "I was listening to people filling up their cars with petrol and saying it's daylight robbery, and it is.

"It's 87% tax and God knows what. I thought I'd just write a simple song. It wasn't written in protest."

"It's not really a protest song, it's our opinion," said ex-Foreigner bassist Mr Wills. "A lot of people feel this pain."

Classic

"We are paying so many different stealth taxes in this country and I think it's about time someone stood up and said something about it."


I'm a great admirer of Kenny Jones, I have been for a long time, but I do think he is on a complete loser here

Jason Toynbee
Institute of Popular Music
But Jason Toynbee of the Institute of Popular Music at Liverpool University said the song was "a flash in the pan".

"I'm a great admirer of Kenny Jones, I have been for a long time, but I do think he is on a complete loser here," he said.

"There have been periodic right-wing protests about taxation - the classic example is the Beatles (with Taxman).

"But the Beatles are chiefly remembered for being on the left and actually writing songs about liberation, about emancipation of humanity, rather than whingeing and complaining that their many millions are being slightly reduced.

"I am talking from a rock and roll position, which musicians have endorsed for years, so unfortunately, though I am great fan of Kenny's, I think he is going against that."

Fun

But Mr Jones rejected the accusation.

"People make statements in songs generally and this is not just another song, a made-up song about some imaginary situation, this is actually a fact.

"I'm not trying to score points, I'm just trying to have a bit of fun with it."

So would the musicians be sending Mr Brown a copy of the record?

"If he will pay he can have one," said Mr Jones.

"Everything he seems to do for me at the moment seems to cost me more money. I think it's about time he paid me some back."


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