While William Congreve’s Almeria tells us in Mourning Bride, "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak," today’s modern music is sometimes used to evoke emotional responses to issues of the day, to inspire devotion to country, or encourage the young to fight its country’s illegal wars. Such was certainly the case with Darryl Worley’s "Have you forgotten."
The release of Worley’s album in April of 2003 was perfectly timed to coincide with the beginning of the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq. In order to hasten release of the album, Worley’s record label recycled several songs from a previous album in order to have a full compliment of songs in time for the release. The song, Have You Forgotten, became the national anthem for neoconservative sycophants such as Hannity, Limbaugh and O’Reilly, and played on the totally false connection between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq.
"I hear people saying we don’t need this war
But, I say there’s some things worth fighting for
What about our freedom and this piece of ground
We didn’t get to keep ’em by backing down
They say we don’t realize the mess we’re getting in
Before you start your preaching let me ask you this my friend
Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?"
Worley’s passionate but untruthful conflation quickly soared to the top of the musical charts. Radio stations across this country played it incessantly. One could only guess how many young Americans made their way to military recruitment offices with the song’s lyrics ringing in their ears.
Now, thousands of American lives; too many mangled minds and bodies; tens of thousands of innocent dead Iraqis; billions of misplaced/misspent dollars; a failed economy and six years later, reality and cognitive discourse has replaced the emotional disconnect of Worley’s work.
While I am sure the singing group Restless Kelly has not realized the financial success of Darryl Worley, at least they have the comfort of being truthful in their musical offering concerning the state’s immoral wars. But, alas, lies are much more profitable than the truth where the state and its idolaters are concerned.
American Blood, by Restless Kelly:
"Johnny can’t drink ’cause Johnny ain’t twenty-one
Ya but he’s eighteen and he’s pretty handy with a gun
they sent him off to a foreign land gave him a new pair of boots and thirteen grand and he came back home with american blood on his hands
george is a real go getter and he’s runnin’ the show and he should have known better but his old man told him to go he sits at home with his feet on his desk while the boys got their’s in the sand
a million miles away with american blood on their hands
johnny can’t walk but the medic says he’s o.k. to fly
and the newspapers tell us he’s a hero and a hell of a guy
they sent him up to washington for a photo op with a smoking gun
he’s got a purple heart and american blood on his hands
now George stands up on a boat proudly waving the flag
he says the hard part’s over and we knew it wouldn’t be so bad
but roadside bombs and six long years were never really part of the plan
what’s a couple thousand more with american blood on their hands
now johnny can drink all day ’cause he’s twenty-three
he donated his legs to the worldwide land of the free
he cries God bless america but God damn uncle sam
while he stares through the tears with american blood on his hands
black gold for silver stars
cold hard cash for armored cars
the brass ain’t fightin’ but they’re sure as hell taking a stand
and they’ll have to live with american blood on their hands"
Watch and listen as they perform the song here. Thanks to Reckless Kelly for their courage.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.