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Posted December 2, 2011 by Mike Mineo in Tracks
 
 

MP3: Cass McCombs – Bradley Manning

MP3: Cass McCombs – Bradley Manning
The restless Cass McCombs, who released two albums in Wit’s End (review) and Humor Risk (review) this year, has a new politically charged single: “Bradley Manning”.

Named after the U.S. soldier who allegedly leaked defense information to WikiLeaks, the track’s is heavy on the impact of Manning being bullied in the army for his homosexuality. “It’s hard to imagine what bullies did, but Bradley understood it came with the gig,” McCombs sings. “He wanted an education with all his will, so he walked in and signed up to get that G.I. bill.” It’s clear that McCombs is sympathetic; he provides an interesting take on what potentially pushed Manning to the edge, as well as attacking WikiLeaks:

Today, those who got up in Bradley’s face
Wish to remain anonymous, in their disgrace
They spread rumors around he wet himself scared
Even if that’s true, I don’t really care

Some would argue that being bullied does not warrant putting your nation’s national security at risk. Then again, others would argue that the information WikiLeaks released never did put national security as risk, but rather exposed crimes of genocide the US committed and brushed under the rug. It’s obviously a discussion without a true answer or winner, and is best left to political blogs. But we do music, and we’ll stick with that. And with that sentiment, this is one hell of a song — whether you agree with McCombs’ views or not.

McCombs premiered the single on Democracy Now, and will release it as a single via Domino on 1/31, backed by “Empty Promises”. McCombs is one of few artists today where reading his lyrics on paper is worthwhile. “Bradley Manning” is no different, so here those are:

When Bradley moved back from western Wales
His Okie accent still wouldn’t fail
Sleeping in his pickup truck, his Soul wouldn’t calm
He wrote to his mother, “I’m nobody now, Mom”

It’s hard to imaging why bullies dig
But Bradley understood it came with the gig
He wanted an education with all his will
So he walked in and signed up to get that GI bill

“I want…”

Today, those who got up in Bradley’s face
Wish to remain anonymous, in their disgrace
They spread rumors around he wet himself scared
Even if that’s true, I don’t really care

“Recycled” from Iraq and stationed at Fort Drum
His boyfriend introduced him to Triskelion
He met the hacktivists at MIT
“Randomly hung out with some pikans”; “At last, people like me”

“I want…”

Deployed to Base Hammer, near Iran
Built from freight containers and sheer boredom
The bullies on the base went in for the kill
They said, “We have a saying here: Shit rolls downhill”

On leave in Boston, but his boyfriend had flown
Bradley wrote him on Facebook: “I have no real home”
And before the Builds launch party, he went on to vent:
“Bradley Manning is not a piece of equipment”

“I want…”

While passwords are written on sticky notes
And stuck to laptop screens, Bradley explodes
Found in a storeroom stabbing a chair
Bradley carved, “I want…” with a passion that’s all-too rare

Now he’s due to be court-martialed this December
To prove bullying is better than a wild temper
Now, when we say “I want”, we invoke his chair
Bradley, know you have friends, though you’re locked in there

“I want…”

Official Site / BUY

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].