the LA Times blog Soundboard has a long interview with Art, the singer. These were my favorite parts.
Are they going to let you see any other parts of Cuba while you’re there?
I asked them if I could go into Cuba, and they told me no. I get to go to the fence that separates it from the base. I would love to go. I want to go to Havana big time. It’s a moment out of time with all these ’50s cars driving around. You know that when the Castro brothers die, its going to turn into Disneyland over there. I wanted to see Cuba, but I also wanted to go over there to get a pulse of the soldiers that were there about what happened [in the prison]: What their family’s viewpoint on being at Guantanamo is about, and are they proud to be there? Do they think they’re doing a good thing? Are they ashamed? They’re put there, and there isn’t much you can do about it in the armed forces. I’ve got a song I’m thinking about playing there for the first time, called “Jesus Was a Democrat.”
Wow, really? What kind of ideas led up to that?
It’s actually a pretty flagrant challenge to the conservative view of Jesus. Even if you’re not a Christian, if you read Jesus’ words in the Bible, there’s nothing conservative about him. He was a full-on liberal. There’s a line in it that goes, “Jesus would be locked up in Guantanamo Bay if he were alive today.” I consider myself Christian but not in any traditional sense. I was brought up in a serious evangelical home, and always had problems with Christianity, like there was something great there, but that I wasn’t seeing it. I see why most people, especially young people, are afraid of Christians. There’s a line in the song that says, “I wonder if Jesus is as afraid of Christians as I am?” They’re scary!
How do you think it’ll go over in Guantanamo Bay, a place you cite in the song as imprisoning Jesus?
What happened in Guantanamo Bay, that was blood-chilling to me. It goes to show you that anyone can get caught up in it, anyone can be the bad guy. Any collection of people from any culture. It was sobering for a lot of people. It was sobering for me. I’ve got a daughter who’s 16, and I don’t think she’d ever go into the service, and I’d fight her if she did, but if she does, what’s my perspective then?
I’m just trying to be compassionate and put myself in the other guy’s shoes. This song is pretty angry. I think we’re in better place now than in ‘88, when I worked on the Dukakis campaign canvassing, but I was so pissed at Republicans, that conservatives co-opted the term “family values”; they made being a liberal a bad word. I’m an ACLU card-carrying liberal. I have no bones about it. I might be conservative on some things, but you’re going to tell me that to have family values I have to glom on to your way of thinking? No way!
At least now I’m not alone. The great thing about [Barack] Obama, he’s unabashedly a liberal or a progressive. Isn’t that great? Even in the Clinton administration, no one was using the word “liberal,” they were using the “moderate” word. Seems like in the last few elections, the right has pulled the left to the center, and now it seems like the left has pulled right center. [John] McCain started playing ball with the Bush administration, thinking he could ride his coattails if he got the call. Now, it’s dragging him down.
read the rest of the interview here.
above my favorite Everclear song, “Heartspark Dollar Sign”