The protest song in America has a rich and vibrant history. The musicians — Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Peter, Paul and Mary and especially Bob Dylan — felt a responsibility to bring the voice of the ordinary person in song to the national spotlight in the 1960’s.

Today, we still have Neil Young protesting in verse and Bruce Springsteen’s latest folk record also stings the concept of democracy — and the Dixie Chicks and Green Day have taken their hammers to the overwrought state of national affairs against international interests — but it is P!nk and her new song Dear Mr. President that most effectively confronts the current office sitter on the hypocrisy of his politics and turns his policies directly against the reality of his own life and the lives of those who encircle him. Color me tickled as you watch and listen to P!nk’s poetically piercing political anthem in a live performance — backed by the Indigo Girls — of Dear Mr. President.

26 Comments

  1. I think most people in politics — on both sides — were probably lonely children who need to find approval and acceptance from the voters. If they weren’t politicians, they’d probably be actors.
    Once pols get into office, whether on the local or national level, they often get caught up in their power and money-making ability (they can keep the campaign contributions if they pay income taxes) and forget why they were elected.
    Since the tendency to become corrupt or disconnected from the public happens to people from all political parties and backgrounds at all levels, it’s a sure sign that we need to always keep all government branches accountable through our system of checks and balances.
    It seems that one needs to be especially careful of pols who say they are out to help the children, regardless of their position on the left or right. Often, that phrase seems to be code that they want to get their hands on your hard earned tax funds for their personal projects.
    It’s too bad that once elected, it seems that politicians are always re-elected as the incumbent has a 99% chance of winning against a challenger.

  2. Well, it’s no Woody Guthrie, but it sure does get right to the point…
    I guess it’s really not germane to be a snob about this kind of thing, since the point is to reach people and get across a message, but I do sometime wish that dissent in America was a little less Bowling for Columbine and a little more, say, Hearts and Minds. But, I mean, I was in high school when Bowling for Columbine came out, and it did get through to a lot of people who didn’t really hitherto consider themselves politically engaged, and it’s certainly a good thing if this Pink song can do the same.

  3. Hi Chris —
    Your comment is wise on so many levels. I agree those who seek validation in politics do have an empty well to fill and shaking hands and “joining the club” is a way to give gravitas and meaning to a shell of a life.
    Then the disconnect happens between representative and citizen is disconcerting as the acceptance changes focus from the voter to the money to stay “well-liked” and in power.

  4. Hi Lily!
    You’re writing from Canada, right? I agree subtlety and grace are preferred over being blunt and loud, but in America there is so much noise there are times when a sharp stick in the eye is necessary to turn the national eye outward from selfish internal gazing.
    The mainstream press and artists have been rather quiet about the politics of our nation and it is only now — when they sense blood and opportunity mixing in Washington — that the drumbeats against the war and its prime pursuer begin to take voice.
    I only wish they started this effort to speak up over the conservative din three years ago because maybe we’d be on our way out of this mess with a Kerry initiative that removed the Bush doctrine from our lives.
    If wishes were horses…

  5. For some reason, politics seems to bring out the crazies also (or maybe it’s the congressional district just to the east of mine).
    One congressional candidate calls for a return to lynch mobs and use of the guillotine for capital punishment. He recently shredded a vintage copy of Playboy and called for government seizures of bookstores selling adult reading materials.
    Another candidate in 2002 ran his campaign from an outhouse hoping to win the congressional seat.
    Writes the South Bend Tribune via Taking Down Words:
    “He didn’t really have a campaign, other than mailing out to newspapers some packets of information, including photos of rather unusual signs he posted along the road by his Valparaiso area farm and on his outhouse.”
    It’s more proof that we will always need a heavy-duty system of checks and balances to protect us from those who are unbalanced.

  6. I love it that the loons run for office — it is a supreme lesson of democracy — anyone can run and let the voters decide!
    The problem comes when you have a local group of loons electing one of their own and the rest of us have to deal with the crazy irrationality that comes from the extremes.
    I long for the days when congress and the senate were populated with people who were able to get things done together for the good of us all.

  7. Hi Anne!
    I, too, was surprised by the purity and clarify of Pink’s voice. I remember her as being kind of loud and shaggy a few years ago. She has certainly matured and risen to a new level of sublime talent. The CD version of her song is quiet. The video of her performance is angry and forceful and much more effective.

  8. I agree with Lily the song is harsh, but specific, and if the song finds a popular footing Pink will have achieved her goals. If you know what Bush has done and the lies he’s told you can’t really fault her for calling him on it in a blunt way.

  9. Well I know you don’t like people to have it both ways. Haha. Music, in this case is reflective because we are shown just who we are in the lyrics and melodies but it is reflexive when we each bring meaning. I guess if you’re writing a political song it is better to reflect and if you’re talking about ideas, and not one person’s misdeeds, then reflexive will have a longer shelf life so to say.

  10. Leaders/Liars/Lawyers/Layers. Leaders are liars protected by lawyers. In the times of the pony express perhaps representation made some sense. (Although i’m sure, not much more than now.) Today with the internet and the telephone, people could represent themselves directly, and assert their individual natural soverignity. The majority of people are against the war, want legalization of medical marijuana (which could be taxed to end all other taxes. but their voice can have no effect with the current system. Please remember cannabis is a non-toxic herb, while Alcohol/Tobacco/Coffee/Tea/Chocolate are toxic, as are all other perscription medication. This is supported by the guns of the ATF which is a branch of the Treasury department whose worthless paper/tyranical funds we must abide by or be marginalized/imprisioned/eliminated. Does it not seem strange that one must pay taxes to send people to war to kill people in the name of someone who preached “turn the other cheek”? Both sides need an enemy and conspire to kill the poor who pay little taxes to encourage people to be rich (and pay taxes), and send these poor to war to thin the “herd.” All animals are bred, especially valuable ones. Do you think the most valuable animal (the human animal) is not bred similarly? We could be working 6 hours a year for a middle class existence and not wait till we die and go to “heaven,” but attempt to approach that ideal in the here and now which is the only “time” that exists. This may be the only life we will ever have. Why trade it for the system the way it is? “Time is but the stream we go a-fishing in,” We are all the fish in the school. If you agree lets get the ball rolling to form a true democracy so we can all represent ourselves and not be enslaved to be middle-men and go through other middle-men, ad-infinitum-uber-alles.

  11. i think it is a very modern song, with social influences and it was a surprise to see pink in this position. She was interested in oiher subjets so, it is nice to see that she is socialy and politicaly active :-))

  12. I love this song so much, even though I am a Canadian, the song still touchs me. It touchs me so much that when my World Issues teacher gave us an assignment saying that we had to find a song that had a political meaning, I reached the meaning about the song and all the information about it. When I handed in my assignment my teacher loved it and he was touched about it as well.

  13. well, as much as I appreciate Pinks lovely idea of a song that might help her and others pinpoint exactly what it is they want to create in their own social lives…. I would like to point out that a VERY VERY wealthy woman singing about the homeless always tends to sound a little like hitting a dull bell…… PINK ,if you watch her gig, uses MARKETING to convey a kind of ‘tough’ ‘i’ve had a hard life now I’m gonna strut about in a bad mood’ kind of of disaffected , hurt, possibly gay and have suffered kind a way…. the point is to pretend to be a support to people who havent got that kind of platform … there is nothing wrong with doing this… but I worry that her ‘ATTACK’ of a man who may be flawed and wrong in lots of ways could be turned around and applied to her…..
    how does it help the enviroment to burn SOO much electricity during a spectacular performance… the pink hair colour she uses and the make up / product she ALWAYS wears was definatly tested on animals.
    how much of her profit does she actually donate to homeless people ?
    my point is not to bring down the thought but the song is an obvious co-write and her first driving desire is to have credibility in a world where she feels defencive and weak…rightly so, she aint no ella , nor dylan, not even is she an honest lover of music… its obvious she uses the business to make herself rich rather than a better musician… shallow and not worth the money she earns… you could argue she gives pleasure and hope to so many young impressionable girls who feel as angry as she pretends to be…
    This I think has its place but I have never felt worth the merit and reward this western world seems to want to reward it for.
    A better thing for her would be to offer us all solutions… I think BUSH is dangerous and in a job he aint fit for. But I cant take this drama queen and her greed to come across as ‘all knowing’ I wonder which one of her many properties she might now donate to a homeless person or what part of her time she might spend in aiding through social support these people she so ‘genuinely’ seems to care about in her song.
    NOW if she did something like that I might think about paying attention to what this spoilt rich girl has to say!

  14. madge —
    Welcome to Urban Semiotic. I am a little confused by your argument. How much less money should P!ink have so you would listen to her message? Or can’t you get past the pink hair?
    The President is much more powerful and rich than P!ink and he also has the proven capacity to kill people at will, and she does not.
    P!ink is married to Carey Hart so I don’t think she’s gay right now though she may have had past attractions.
    She stood up to sing — to take a stand risking her pink hair and her vast wealth — to criticize a sitting president when no one else would. That gets her big chits and large kudos in my mind and heart and for that, I thank her.

  15. yes… you’ve nailed my disgust. Its the pink hair… sorry I am being factious. I’m just riled at her self righteous manner that she soaks every aspect of her communication skill… from attacking other girls survival ie: stupid girl….and now this vain glorious attempt to be ‘with the downtrodden’ and disaffected by attacking yet again. I like the IDEA of a challange to this man Bush…but her JUGEMENT is ‘NO he wont talk /walk with me’, ‘He knows nothing of hard work’, it’s the judgement that girl gives out… I suspect the truth is she did not communicate with George Bush to speak with him on these matters which are troubling her… nor did she call his office… Please beleive me, and I am sorry if you mis understood my text, It has NOTHING to do with her purse, only to do with her ACTIONS in the light of what blessings she has. If I understand you , your truth is that she stood up against an unpopular president…. believe me she is not alone or the only one doing that and she risks nothing doing it.

  16. another thing I would like to add is that it was this you tube viewing of this song that caused me to search the web to find a discussion on it, I thank you for letting me get it off my chest. I see her as unhelpful in the recovery of this awful situation. War is wrong, homophobia is wrong, homelessness is wrong… I happen to suspect that she might be right about what this man thinks about or cares about but I dont KNOW it to be absolutly true and finding that preening princess who has the gall to sing about other preening princesses who are no better or worse than her sticks in my craw…. She has done nothing but tell us how horrid everything is and how wrong one man is and how hopless it all is… would nt it be better to help this man see some kind of light that might just change his ways rather than reminding an addict of his coke and booze addiction , reinforcing the sense that he is incapable of change… I found it irritating and unhelpful… she isnt saying anything I have heard a million other rock performers say….nor is she developing the idea… WE all KNOW he has made terrible errors of judgement, as her words point out ‘ we are not blind’ .. but what happens now? How to fix it should be whats on everyones mind not ‘lets buy her records and shout ‘yeah’ at the speakers over a beer”. Isnt it time for healthy and healing debate that doesnt polarise anyone. That girl seems to not be interested in that. But please disabuse me.

  17. Hello, I just wanted to put in my comment of the new song by Alecia Beth Moore(Pink).
    The song is very well written, it is the best song from Pink yet, the most powerful one too. Mr. Bush is not doing anything exept for ordering weapons, bombs and training soldiers. It’s so sad the americans taxes are used to kill people in Irak, most of them are even innocent. President Bush has sent American, Danish, English soldiers into a war which were not approved by UN. Soldiers are killed in action so Bush can get even more rich from oil fields and get revenge for he’s father who faught him in the Golf. And yet he get’s away with saying that it’s to stop Sadam Hussein. I may be from Denmark but it touches me too, I took a look at a website listing how much money there is spent on that stupid war. Check out http://www.costofwar.com

  18. Thanks for the excellent comment, Anders, and welcome to Urban Semiotic!
    I agree with you on the P!nk song. It is memorable and important and it served a grand purpose: Questioning the current governmental policy.
    Her song stepped up the debate and cooled the governmental rhetoric and the drums of war. I admire her guts for taking such a public stand and risking her reputation and personal wealth to do so.

  19. I LOVE THIS SONG BECAUSE IT IS THE TRUTH AND IF I HAD THE CHANCE TO SPIT IT ALL OVER THE AIRWAVES THEN I WOULD DO THE SAME SO ALL I REALLY HAVE LEFT TO SAY IS BRING BILLY BACK LOL HAVE A NICE DAY EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!