"Now how many people must get killed?" begins the latest antiwar refrain from the pop world. "For oil families' pockets to get filled?"
The song is In a World Gone Mad, which was released Tuesday with no advance fanfare by the Beastie Boys. Though not commercially available as a single, the song can be downloaded for free at the Beastie Boys' Web site (www.beastieboys.com) and is being distributed to disc jockeys, who were unaware of it until they began receiving copies Tuesday.
"We were working on our record, and we realized that by the time we finished a record that it might be a bit late to get out some of the things we wanted to comment on," said Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, speaking by telephone Tuesday. "So we figured we'd finish the song and post it."
The single is meant to serve as more than a protest song. The band wanted to send a message to the rest of the world that not every American backs the administration's foreign policy.
"I think a big part of wanting to do the song was just hearing Bush make these speeches, seeing how the rest of the world was reacting to it and feeling like Bush doesn't represent us," Yauch said. "One of the purposes is to let people in other parts of the world know that the messages he's sending out aren't necessarily the view of all Americans. And it's also to say to people in the United States who might be uncomfortable protesting that it's all right to do that. One thing that the U.S. administration has been trying to do is give the feeling that it's un-American to protest."
Though the song has a similar title to the Beenie Man reggae song World Gone Mad, which laments social conditions and asks the president for an explanation, the Beastie Boys said they were unaware of that song. Their song mixes lyrics advocating nonviolence and multilateral disarmament with the band's sense of whimsy. Thus, a deep thought is followed immediately by a rhyme like, "They're layin' on the syrup thick/We ain't waffles, we ain't havin' it."
"Part of music is being able to enjoy yourself, too," Yauch said. "Some of the most powerful commentary that there's been on the Bush administration has been Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live. It's goofing around, but it has a huge impact."