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Marketing music through war-time mayhem

Ballad_walkrd_warddodLong before Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler marched “Ballad of the Green Beret” to the top of the charts in 1966, war represented a major marketing opportunity for musicians pro and con. However, only the pros tend to get promotion from the Pentagon. Witness country crooner Clint Black’s star-spangled support at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s Sept. 11th  “America Supports You Freedom Walk” (pictured here) that sought to reconnect the war in Iraq to the terrorist strikes four years before. Black’s lyrics in “I Raq and Roll” blend all potential enemies of freedom—be they terrorists, war protesters or Saddam Hussein—into one belligerent ballad: “You can come along or you can stay behind or you can get out of the way.  But our troops take out the garbage for the good old USA.” Another ersatz warrior Toby Keith vexed the Dixie Chicks in the heady early days of the Iraq invasion with “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue,” which warned unidentified enemies:  “You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A, 'cuz we'll put a boot in your ass—It's the American way.”  To find the equivalent of Sgt. Sadler today —singers who actually saw combat—check out “4th25,” an enlisted men’s rap group that was receiving theoretical support from the “Freedom Walk.”  Relying on its Web site and occasional media appearances to market its album “Live From Iraq,” the group is more pro-soldier than anti-war. In addition to generous use of the f-word, the 4th25 calls the shots from the soldier’s point of view, including this line: “Out here you can't fake it. That's why ya'll ain’t here, ain’t it? Its just easier to act hard on credit than it is to make a payment.”

—Posted by Richard Williamson

Credit: R.D. Ward/DoD

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