Monday, December 1, 2008

Political Irish Rockers Black 47 Campaign for Iraq

Stars and Stripes
Johnnie was just a kid. I mean we were all kids but he seemed younger, less sure of himself. Anbar changed that. Grow up or die. It only took one mistake but Johnnie didn't make any. That's what I liked about him. Guy had eyes in the back of his head. I guess his luck ran out. It was the longest hour of my life. Waiting for that chopper. Begging him to hold on. I still remember the last thing I said to him, “when we get back to Bragg, I'm gonna drink your ass under the table.” Yeah…

Downtown Baghdad Blues
One weekend a month! That's what they said when we joined the Guard. Two full tours later, I'm almost used to this hellhole. Everyone's got their problems. One guy can't take the heat, another the dust, the smell, the flies, the dogs howlin', the call to prayer. And I got you… readin' between the lines of your email, wonderin' why you can't be bothered writin' a letter. Nothin' over her makes any sense but you make even less. As soon as we're gone the sand will cover up everything - just like we'd never come. So, what the hell am I doin' here in the first place?

Sadr City
Gunner was crazy before he hit Baghdad - out of his head fixating on old movies. Nothing seemed to affect him - except Mookie. Swore Moqtada Al Sadr was a dead ringer for Orson Wells. Taped both their pictures over his bunk and stared at them for hours. Was sure Mookie was out to get him personally. Didn't help that he spent most of his tour in a Hummer cruising Sadr City - red-hot Mookie turf. Last time I saw him down in Walter Reade, wouldn't you know it, he was still staring at those two pictures on his wall.

Sunrise on Brooklyn
I should have said something, anything, not just let you walk away. Maybe it was just another kiss to you, nothing to write home about, but you did say you cared. Was it just because I was leaving the next day? Doing your duty - feeling sorry for another jarhead off to the sandpit? Then I remember the way you melted against me, lips open, tongues touching, with the Verazanno lit up like a string of pearls in the night. And then your friends shouted and you had to go, but I can still feel the print of your body… man, it's too quiet out there, muezzin should be praying and, oh shit, something just moved up on that minaret…

No Better Friend… No Worse Enemy
The US Marines have long been a first step up the ladder for poor and working class youth. They leave behind much blood in the sands of Iraq.

Ballad of Cindy Sheehan
The gutter press, the talking heads on TV, the DC chicken-hawks, they all did such a job on this woman that I was a bit leery meeting her. Was she really just another egomaniac looking for attention? But those planted fears faded away in the warmth of her smile and the firmness of her handshake. All I saw was an American mother trying to stop this madness before another women loses her son.

The Last One to Die
If there's one thing this war has given me, it's perspective. Not about over here. I'll never understand these people. Talk about two different worlds - more like universes. No, I mean back home. I know it's hard for people to have any idea what we're going through. But I know exactly what they're doing because I used to be just like them: watching TV, going to the mall, rooting for the Brewers - a great big ball of nothing! The country is as flabby as a politician's ass; we're lied to and led by those who keep us stupid to make money off us. Over here, bad as it is, we're lean and mean and rely on each other - not in some bullshit television way, but for real. When I go back I'm going to do something about it.

The Fighting 69th (on the road to the airport)
The 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard gained its reputation at Antietam and Fredericksburg. In 2004 the Fighting 69th was deployed to Iraq where it guarded the infamous Route Irish, linking the Green Zone to Baghdad International Airport, often called “the most dangerous piece of real estate in the world.” Nineteen members were killed in action, and seventy-eight seriously wounded.

Battle of Fallujah
If they'd let us finish it in April we wouldn't have had to go back again in November. By then Zarqawi had the joint booby-trapped and laid thick with IEDs, snipers hanging out of the goddamn moon. We plowed through that town, rubbling everything in our way; and when we reached the desert, we had to turn around and fight right back through again. Zarqawi knew we were coming and was history. Only the loonies stayed behind. Ever fight someone who wants to die and take you with them? That's what it was like. Still, we blew the hell out of them and everything else too. Now we got to pay Halliburton or some bunch of crooks to rebuild the whole thing. What a war!

Goddamn smoke grenades did it. One minute I'm running down an alley behind the Lieutenant; next I'm half blind, slippin' on broken glass and rollin' over assways. Now I'm pinned between a wall and a burnt out Toyota. The Lieutenant will come back for me but there's a Haji on the roof got my number. It's too quiet. Jesus! Just some mortars goin' off over by the river - far away, nearly as far away as you and your emails and cold kisses and how come you never write a real letter and is he still around and don't tell me you don't run into him and I know he wants you so bad that it's driving me out of my head and I can feel that Haji zeroin' in and…

Southside Chicago Waltz
He was just another Southside kid at the Gaelic Park Festival. I didn't pay him much heed, though his favorite song was American Wake rather than James Connolly or Funky Ceili. It didn't surprise me when he enlisted after 9/11 - all those kids wanted to do their part. Iraq changed him. That wasn't surprising either; most of them were quieter, more serious, bending over backwards to mask their feelings. What did surprise me is that he re-enlisted and went back. Said it made more sense over there. This one's for you, kid. See you Memorial Day…

The catchword of our times… The general disengagement in the country is staggering. Whatever one's politics, there is little doubt that this war was unnecessary. And yet it drags on, hemorrhaging the nation of blood, money and morality. A very small percentage are doing the fighting and dying for us. Are we so over-entertained, so under-informed that we can't see the forest for the splintered trees? Despite all the spinning and dissembling of the last five years, we're a bigger country than that, a greater people, ill served by flaccid words like whatever…

NEW YORK CITY, NY – Steadfast in its opposition to the war since before the invasion, Black 47 presents a dry-eyed view of life in combat on IRAQ its debut for new model indie, United For Opportunity (release date: March 4, 2008). The band hits the campaign trail in February performing across the U.S. and culminating with a St. Patrick's Day release party on their home turf, New York City, at BB Kings.

Recorded at Coney Island's Cyclone Sound in July 2007, IRAQ includes a batch of new songs along with several composed by Larry Kirwan over the course of the war. Inspiration for the characters and stories are very personal, many coming from the point-of-view of fans that served in Iraq and shared their experiences with the band.

Black 47 rarely plays to the converted and their shows have often seethed over the last five years. “Because of our background, we've always had as strong a fan base of right wing cops, firemen and conservatives, as of left wing students, radicals, and the working disaffected; neither side has been afraid to vent its views,” Kirwan dryly notes. “We also take pride in keeping in touch with our fans, many of whom traditionally join the Service as a way to fund their college education or mortgage. Add to that the many who enlisted in response to 9/11, and it's easy to see why we have had no shortage of information from those actually doing the fighting in Iraq.”

“Stars and Stripes” tells the story of two young men waiting for a chopper to rescue them from an ambush in Anbar Province, while “Downtown Baghdad Blues” has another serviceman wondering, “what the hell am I doing here in the first place?” “Sadr City,” is black-humored blues with the hero fearful that Moqtada Al Sadr's Mahdi Army has his number; and on “Ramadi,” a young man, despite his desperate situation, can't rid his mind that his girlfriend may be “cruisin' down Main Street hangin' with your old squeeze.”

The band employs an ever-broadening mélange of New York styles: rock, reggae, hip-hop, folk, Irish traditional, downtown noise and Jazz and have adopted a somewhat harder sound to reflect the nature of the war.

With a pedigree for controversy, Black 47 first raised its voice in protest to the political and economic systems in the North of Ireland in 1989. Led by Larry Kirwan (guitar/vocals), Black 47 is recognized as the premier Irish-American rock group who paved the way for the current Irish punk/roots explosion led by such bands as Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys.

Black 47 begin the first leg of their U.S. tour February 1 through St. Patrick's Day. Additional tour dates to be announced.

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