Following the example set earlier this month by the Beastie Boys, former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha, and John Mellencamp, both Lenny Kravitz and R.E.M. have recorded antiwar songs and released them for free on the Web. Kravitz recorded ”We Want Peace” last week in Miami as a duet with top Iraqi pop star Kadim Al Sahir. Other Middle Eastern musicians — Palestinian violinist Simon Shaheen and Lebanese percussionist Jamey Hadded — play on the track as well. Kravitz chose the website for Rock the Vote as the forum for the song ”because of its strong stance with young people as defenders of free expression,” he writes on the site. ”This song for me is about more than Iraq; it is about our role as people in the world and that we all should cherish freedom and peace.”
R.E.M.’s tune is called ”The Final Straw,” and is available on the band’s website. Singer Michael Stipe writes on the site: ”This is the strongest voice I could think of to send out there. We had to send something out there now. We are praying and hoping for the lives of all people involved, the troops, the Iraqi civilians, refugees, POWs, families of troops, the innocents — that they are safe and OK. Safe home, all.”
Don’t expect either song to be released as a single. Neither singer’s label participated in the recording, and as the Dixie Chicks can tell you, radio is not exactly friendly right now to antiwar sentiment.