Put Down That Weapon (Make Music Not War)
Y & T Music
By Jim Hynes
The social unrest we are experiencing now inevitably brings comparisons to the sixties and its wealth of protest songs. For example, “For What It’s Worth” has this line “What a field day for the heat, a thousand people in the streets.” Maybe it’s been done before but, in any case the Y&T Music Group has assembled a group of mostly familiar protest songs by less familiar artists. This is their effort to encourage artists to express themselves in these politically and socially divisive times. Indeed most of the artists here are contemporary with only Eric Andersen dating back to that fertile period of songwriting.
You know most of these songs – “Eve of Destruction (P.F. Sloan),” Masters of War (Bob Dylan),” “Universal Soldier (Buffy Sainte-Marie),” “I Ain’t Marching Anymore (Phil Ochs),” and “Turn, Turn, Turn (Pete Seeger)”. There are ten more as well., from Neil Young, James Taylor, Yoko Ono, Steve Goodman, Bobby Darin, Eric Bogle, Steve Stills and Midnight Oil. However, for the most part, the artists are lesser known. This writer is familiar with Sweet Lizzy Project, originally from Cuba but now residing in Nashville, through the efforts of Raul Malo of The Mavericks; and with singer-songwriter Arian Feiles. The others are newer names (at least to me) and the results, like most various artist projects are mixed at best. Several of the artists play an accompanying role when they are not in the lead. They include Jansen Press, Jolynn Daniel, Matthew Sabatella, Gerry Hansen, Karen Feldner, and others.
Various artist albums invariably bring mixed results as is the case here. Most listeners will gravitate toward their favorite songs but depending on how sacred they hold the original version, will have varying opinions on the interpretations. To these ears the strength of the project lies in these two sequences – the first comes midway with Arian Feiles on an emotive “Masters of War,” Sweet Lizzy Project on the spirited “Universal Soldier,” and Flash Company on a faithful rendition of Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” – the second near the end with Dracula’s lovely duet of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and Helixglow’s “Ohio,” which lacks the severe angst of the original but its blend of voices sounds as if could be college age kids expressing their dismay.
Unfortunately, snippets of lyrics in these indelible songs still resonate today.
- Jim Hynes