War Gigs

Not to get all Mideastern on your ass, but when it comes to Iraq you know where Stereogum stands: pro-war, anti-troops (stole that one from Jeffrey Ross). OK, seriously, no judgment calls, but I found some of the quotes in Rolling Stone’s feature “Soundtrack To War” (Aguilera issue) a bit unsettling (no shit — being at war is “unsettling.”)

Do I care if soldiers rig their iPods to their helmets? No. Am I gonna criticize their taste in music? Of course not. But I wanted to share RS’s quotes from Iraqi troops because I think, to a music fan, they are fascinating. The Doors brought solace to Vietnam vets; now that easily accessible digital music has replaced Armed Forces Radio, what are they listening to?

  • “All this stuff was going on: Heavy artillery, tracer rounds — it looked like Star Wars. Then you got ‘Hit me, baby, one more time’ — it’s hard to kill people when that’s going on.”

  • “To get psyched up to go into battle, I listened to punk or hardcore, like Pantera or Metallica, and after every patrol, when we were going back to base and we knew we were alive, we played ‘This Is Now,’ by Hatebreed.”

    From one Sudan-born soldier who listens to Iraqi music…

  • “People are like, ‘Why are you listening to terrorist music?’ or ‘Why are you listening to the enemy’s music?’ I actually like it. They say I’m weird for that, so I keep it to myself.”

  • “You can’t put a Dashboard Confessional song on and expect to go out there and kill somebody.”

  • “You’ve got to make death not a big deal. Like the Russian guy in Rocky: ‘If he dies, he dies.’ When you’re getting ready, grabbing your gear, putting the bullets where you need to put them and getting in the mind-set, like, ‘OK, we’re going to war — that’s when I listen to 50 Cent.”

  • “Everyone was getting pumped up, [AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell”] gave us a bond throughout the entire missions. The connotation was ‘We’re laughing at death, and it’s not gonna touch us.'”
If you never thought of music as a life-or-death issue, I guess think again.