Skip to comments.'60s war protest song is out of step in fashion ad (LAUGH ALERT)
Posted on 09/26/2005 4:23:05 AM PDT by Chi-townChief
Tens of thousands marched on Washington last Saturday to protest George Bush's war in Iraq. The crowd included college-age activists, veterans of Vietnam War protests, entire families united against the war, and parents whose children have been killed in Iraq.
It was the largest protest yet against this war. Larger ones will almost surely follow.
If there had been a soundtrack to Saturday's march past the White House, you couldn't pick a much more appropriate song to kick it off than Jefferson Airplane's "Volunteers."
Released in 1969 by one of the most politically acute bands of the era, "Volunteers" was a scorching anthem for America's activist youth:
Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution
Got a revolution. . . .
One generation got old
One generation got soul
This generation got no destination to hold, pick up the cry!
Come on now we're marching to the sea
Got a revolution
Got a revolution
Who will take it from you
We will and who are we?
We're volunteers of America
Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America. . . .
I was just a kid when "Volunteers" was playing on alternative radio, but years later, I remember the passion in a college teacher's voice as he projected the lyrics on a giant screen and talked about the power of rock music to galvanize a movement and to reflect the times.
More than 35 years later, it's a different war and a different time, but the American voice of dissent is still strong -- and sure enough, I did hear "Volunteers" last Saturday as that protest was under way.
However, it wasn't blaring from a loudspeaker in Washington. It was on my television, during a break from a college football game, and it was the anthem for a Tommy Hilfiger commercial, with lots of beautiful people undulating around in the name of . . . fashion.
Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new. For years, I've talked about rock songs of protest and anger that have been turned into ads for luxury cars or themes for conservative politicians.
But this has to be one of the worst. "Volunteers" for Tommy Hilfiger? How do the writers for "Saturday Night Live" come up with parody commercials these days, when the real things are so often so ridiculous?
You can just feel the hope for larger demonstrations on Dopey's part.
Beatniks are out to make it rich, bump...
College-age activists? Gee ... That's gotta be a first!
Veterans of Vietnam War protests? What? ... you mean they get campaign ribbons for that?
Parents whose children have been killed in Iraq? So, ... Saint Sheehan was there after all.
As Garofalo said, it just "wasn't very hip" to protest Clinton's wars.
I heard Sweet's "Teenage Rampage" the other day on a commercial (a truck, I believe it was). That was one of nmy favorite songs growing up, by one of my favorite bands...and my first thought was "cool, they got some money coming in...".
"Volunteers" must not have been too great a song if I've never heard it. Growing up in post-hippie CA, I thought I had heard just about all of those lame-assed protest tunes forced on me by various teachers at one time or another. I always thought they were so angry and miserable because they couldn't bathe or shave.
I don't recall it being much of commercial success. I was still a foolish fan of the Airplane, up through their "transformation" into Starship, so yes, Kantner, Balin, Slick, etc, were still making some money off of me...
Notice no Cambodians or Vietnamese were in the group, gee, I wonder what happened to all of them?
Well put, Chi. And of course Grace Slick was a fashion model herself, further bolstering your point. Wasn't it Nike that used The Beatles' "Revolution" in an ad a few years back? The "Movement" has been all show-biz, all the time. It's only the losers in the streets who take it seriously.
Remember "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil?"
Oh, yes. "After Bathing at Baxter's". That really wasn't that bad of an LP. A little too far out for most people at the time...
I remember once reading that Jerry Garcia said something along the lines of, "Sellout? Hell we've been trying to sell out for 25 years but nobody's buying."
Oh, please, somebody besides me remember Donovan, too.
Some of the music is wonderfully loopy and strange. Crown of Creation has an absolutely unique love song: Triad, where Grace Slick is asking two guys, why can't we just be three? But the title track is a bit anemic compared to the live version that appears on the band's final album 30 Seconds Over Winterland.
Volunteers has one absolutely amazing track on it (although I do like the title track): their version of the Crosby-Stills song Wooden Ships.
Irrelevant personal detail: If you look at the back cover of 30 Seconds Over Winterland, you will see the lightshow graphics projected above the band. This was the Heavy Water Lightshow, which in later years did lightshows at a planetarium out west. I was a student intern in the planetarium and worked for the lightshow as an usher one summer. They used Wooden Ships on the soundtrack. I never got tired of the song.
Oh, yes. I was once a Donavan fan.
No, I was begging not to be the only one who remembered it.
This is the very first time I have seen the words.
? I still don't think they're the right ones.
It is a great tune, but the words are weak.
Jefferson Airplane had their moments, but the group was simply too diverse in their interests to keep it going...
When these idjits started trying to "re-popularize" these 60s and 70s protest type songs, all I could see in my mind was some aging singer/songwriter thinking, "Screw this 12 Step crap - I've got drug money again!"
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