steveearle_2012

John Walker Lindh has joined

John Walker Lindh has joined the ranks of Bonnie and Clyde and Billy Jo and Bobby Sue: misguided American outlaws immortalized in music. What can I say – I kind of like the lyrics; its too bad its about him, as Laz-e-boy said. Billy Jo and Bobby Sue are maybe the closest to the suburban wasteland theme that starts off John’s song:

“nothin’ better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose”
.

Considering the circumstances, the song is not going over that well. But typically Americans have a soft spot for the well-intentioned miscreant. I’d be intrigued about Islam from the lyrics (haven’t heard the song yet) if I didn’t know anything about who it’s about. So maybe John’ll do some good for Islam after all.

Steve Earle, the songwriter, is amazingly generous in his assessment of John:

“I’m happy with the way the song came out, but I’m nervous, not for myself, but I have taken some serious liberties with Walker, speaking as him, in his voice. I’m trying to make clear that wherever he got to, he didn’t arrive there in a vacuum. I don’t condone what he did. Still, he’s a 20 year-old kid. My son Justin is almost exactly Walker’s age. Would I be upset if he suddenly turned up fighting for the Islamic Jihad? Sure, absolutely. Fundamentalism, as practiced by the Taliban, is the enemy of real thought, and religion too. But there are circumstances. Walker was from a very bohemian household, from Marin County. His father had just come out of the closet. It’s hard to say how that played out in Walker’s mind. He went to Yemen because that’s where they teach the purest kind of Arabic. He didn’t just sit on the couch and watch the box, get depressed and complain. He was a smart kid, he graduated from high school early, the culture here didn’t impress him, so he went out looking for something to believe in.”

The lyrics for John Walker’s Blues, from Steve Earle.net:

I’m just an American boy raised on MTV
And I’ve seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of ’em looked like me
So I started lookin’ around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

chorus:
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God

If my daddy could see me now – chains around my feet
He don’t understand that sometimes a man
Has got to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great, all praise due to him
And if I should die, I’ll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him

chorus

We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan, some secret not revealed
Now they’re draggin’ me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel

A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah