The wartime songbook of 2003 continues to expand. R.E.M., Lenny Kravitz, Clint Black, Zack de la Rocha and Meshell Ndegeocello have released new songs via the Internet that address the war in Iraq.
"This is the strongest voice I could think of to send out there," R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe wrote on the band's Web site, remhq.com, about "The Final Straw," the new antiwar song that is available for streaming at the site. The Kravitz song, "We Want Peace," is a duet with Kadim Al Sahir, an Iraqi pop singer, and is posted for free download on rockthevote.org. The Ndegeocello track, "Love & Forgiveness," is available as a free download at www.maverick.com and includes a message from the singer: "I wrote this song following September 11, 2001, and thought it might be appropriate to release now given the present worldwide mobilization for peace." The De la Rocha song, with DJ Shadow, is less sanguine: "March of Death" is reminiscent of De la Rocha's incendiary music with Rage Against the Machine.
Country singer Black, meanwhile, performed his pro-war song "I Raq & I Roll" at the Grand Ole Opry last Saturday and has posted the song as a free download on his Web site, www.clintblack.com. The song has been catching the attention of country radio programmers, who have already found a hit in a similarly themed anthem, "Have You Forgotten," by Darryl Worley. Black's lyrics include the line: "Iraq, I rack 'em up and I roll / I'm back and I'm a high-tech G.I. Joe / I pray for peace and prepare for war / And I will never forget there's no price too high for freedom."