Sunday, February 20, 2005

Soldiers Coping with War

Fighting Words, an article in the New York Times this morning talks about how soldiers are using rap, and other music, as a coping mechanism. Specialist Shaw writes some lyrics to express the loss of a friend to those of us in the US:

'Trials and tribulations daily we do/And not always life's pains wash away in our pool/When we take a dip, we try to stick to the script/But when those guns start blazing and our friends get hit/That's when our hearts start racing and our stomach gets whoozy/Cuz for y'all this is just a show, but we live in this movie."

In the next two weeks, Frontline is showing two specials on soldiers and war. The first one on February 22 at 9pm, A Company of Soldiers, is about soldiers in Iraq after the Bush re-election. The second one on March 1 at 9pm, The Soldier's Heart, is about how soldiers deal with Iraq after they've come home and the services they are provided, or not provided, to help them.


At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in an infantry division in viet nam and did a full tour. We had music too and ways of coping. I quit counting the fire fights I was in after 27 of them. I haven't quite figured out what Bush being elected has to do with soliders and music since soliders have always had music to help them cope and remind them of home. We only had music back at our combat base and would go for weeks sometimes without any music or showers for that matter. We had some draftees in my outfit but I enlisted, like all the people in iraq, yet we all listened to the same music. I don't see any connection here between music and politics.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Erin said...

In referencing "after the Bush re-election" I was just making a point about the historical context in which the news crew was with the company rather than a political one. Did you see it?

But, like in the article, "Fighting Words" I do think there are a lot of politics infused in the music soldiers listen to even as they cope. I think the politics in Spc. Shaw's lyrics conveys well some of this ambivalence. Ambivalence that come from wanting do the job well, wanting to protect each other, wanting to build a better infrastructure for Iraqi's, anger at the insurgents for trying to kill them and their friends, and other Iraqis, along with disagreements with why they are there, how they got there, policies keeping them there and trying to make sense of all those contradictions.

At the same time, anger with the media in not portraying the good things the soldiers are able to complete, and not showing their deaths either, just keeping a tally - they aren't just numbers. Although after Ted Koppel, their pictures started being shown more often.

Don't you think music helps convey/cope with the ambivalence, which can't help but include politics?

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