Who Said No One Writes Protest Songs Anymore?
Driving home this evening I found that the weird weather was scrambling the local NPR station. So I punched up the "Jam-On" station on my satellite radio. They played a new song from a soon-to-be-released album, Yell Fire!, by Michael Franti.
I think I've heard of Franti. He and his band Spearhead have been around for many albums. But I don't think I could have picked one of his songs from the musical mix out there. That may change.
The song was called Light Up Ya Lighter. It's one of an album's worth that he wrote and recorded following a non-USO tour of Iraq, Israel and Palestine. Over a tight hip-hop/reggae beat, Franti does a swinging reggae sort of rapping. He has a fairly direct take on the Iraq war:
The army recruiters in the parking lot,Something about this tune really grabbed me. I like the energy. I like the rhymes. I like where the music lives: at the place where rock, rap, and reggae overlap. You can check it out on this MySpace link (I never thought I'd type those words!). The Spearhead website has several free downloads, including the first single, the title tune, from the new album.
Hustling the kids there juggling pot.
"Listen young man, listen to my plan.
Gonna make you money, gonna make you a man."
Here's what you get: An M16 and a kevlar vest.
You might come home with one less leg,
But this thing'll surely keep a bullet out your chest.
So come on, come on. Sign-up. Come on.
This one is nothing like Viet Nam.
Except for the bullets. Except for the bombs.
Except for the youth that's gone.
(Appologies to Mr. Franti. I was taking dictation from the PC speakers.)
I also plan to keep an eye on this guy on iTunes and buy some of his tunes when the album is released.
On The Other Hand....
I found a site called The Pianola a few days back. This is a flash-based application, entirely on-line, that uses little squares, floating in an enclosed space, to control a variety of tones.
The squares play sounds as they bounce off the walls, floor, roof and each other. They are affected by gravity, and their motion changes over time. You can combine tones yourself or start with several pre-sets, from Beethoven to more modern offerings. I particularly like the pre-set titled "F. Low."
This is a wonderful tool for on-line chill-out time.