From "Harry's Place"
I was, for many years, a huge Billy Bragg fan.
I saw him perform three times when I lived in St. Louis in the 1980s and early 1990s.
When I lived in Israel, I joined a listserv of Bragg fans, made some online friends, and-- during a visit to the UK in 2000-- met some of them and saw him play at Tolpuddle.
I still think he wrote and performed some of the great songs of the past 25 years.
Which is why I'm so disappointed by his ripoff of the classic Bob Dylan song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" in a misbegotten tribute to Rachel Corrie.
Rachel Corrie's death was a tragedy. But she was terribly wrongheaded, and the organization she was involved in-- the International Solidarity Movement-- is far from the noble upholder of "non-violent resistance" suggested by Bragg's song.
The implied comparison of Hattie Carroll to Rachel Corrie is as ridiculous as the implied comparison of William Zanzinger to the Israeli army. I hope I don't need to explain why.
At least the song mentions suicide bombers in passing. But it fails to note that the Israeli military operations in Gaza, which Corrie was trying to stop, were part of an effort to stop those bombers from killing more Israelis. It would have been good if Bragg had included a verse about other Rachels who were victims of those bombers. Some of them may have had lives at least as compelling as Corrie's. And their deaths were no less tragic.
The song mentions that a New York theatre cancelled a production of the play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" and suggests it was part of an effort by powerful forces like Fox News to turn her into a "non-person." The play should have been produced in New York, and probably will be. But with more than three million Google entries, Corrie is not about to become a non-person.
I've paid tribute here to Fern Holland, a young American who came to Iraq after the invasion to work for women's rights and was murdered by the "resistance." I've wondered if anyone would ever produce a play based on her life. It is, unfortunately, as unlikely as Billy Bragg writing a song called "The Lonesome Death of Fern Holland."
(Note: With trepidation, I'm opening this post to comments. But I won't put up with any comments ridiculing the way Corrie died.)
Update: Now this is disgusting.
Posted by Gene at March 28, 2006 03:59 AM