VITAL SIGNSrnTaking AmericarnBackrnby Christine HaynesrnThe Musical Front ofrnthe P.C. WarrnThe music business is the latest battlegroundrnin the p.e. war—and recentrnevents indicate that dissident orrncontroversial musicians have no defendersrnin the media establishment that nowrncontrols the industry. In yet another instancernof censorship by the “free-speaking”rnleft, singer Steve Vaus has been stifledrnin his efforts to “Take AmericarnBack,” exen in a musical sense.rnVaus’s song “We Must Take AmericarnBack,” a response to deteriorating conditionsrnin his adopted hometown of SanrnDiego, was pulled from the airwaves inrnlate Julv 1992 by RCA, which had signedrna contract with Vaus for the rights to hisrnten-song album less than one month before.rnRCA was initiallv enthusiasticrnabout the tunc, vvliich had risen to therntop of call-in request charts in citiesrnaround the United States following itsrnrelease last spring. But objections fromrnprogrammers at major radio stations tornthe “controversial philosophical content”rnof the song led RCA to dump Vaus’s album,rncancel his contract, and preventrnhim from rereleasing or even recordingrnhis material for five years. As Vaus himselfrnphrased it, “RCA backed down withrnits tail between its legs.”rnBut for what? hi comparison to muchrnof the music released today, “We MustrnTake America Back” is remarkably tame.rnIts opening line, “The American Dreamrnhas become a nightmare,” for instance,rnis a truism by all but George Bush’srnstandards. And the chorus, a stirring,rnpatriotic call to popular action, differsrnfrom the message of such “socially conscious”rnartists as Tracy Chapman andrnSting only in the specific political solutionrnit offers to commonly recognizedrnproblems:rnPut an end to the gangs and therndrugs in the streetsrnAnd the fact that the bad guysrnmost always go free,rnThat is wrong.rnWe need leaders who lead us, notrnstick us and bleed us.rnThen take all our monev and sendrnit abroad,rnWc must take America back.rnWe need prayer in the schoolsrnand more thingsrn”Made in USA”;rnIt’s the least we can do, for thernred, white, and bluernWe must take America back.rnThis is hardly a song about revolution,rnvet the barons of the music business evidentlyrnbelieve Vius’s lyrics are not “correct”rnenough for American ears. Likernhis video, which intercuts .shots of Viusrnsinging with newspaper headlines cataloguingrnthe troubles of contemporaryrnAmerica and which aired on Th.ernNashville Network and Country MusicrnTelevision before being pulled as well,rnVaus’s single is blasphemy to the reigningrncultural elite.rnIf RCA had canned the deal becausernhis song was not popular, Vaus—a writerrnand producer of musical projects whornhas long been committed to civic actionrn—would not be quite so bitter. Butrnthe single had a substantial following inrnstates like Maryland, West Virginia,rnWashington, North Carolina, and SouthrnCarolina. In Spokane, Washington, forrninstance, country station KCDA receivedrnimmediate positive reaction to thernsong. According to station owner JohnrnRook, the song had mass appeal becausernit struck a chord with ordinary people,rnwho shot it into the station’s top-tenrnrequest list within one week. WhilernKCDA introduced the song by playingrnit three times a day, after one week stationrnprogrammers had to increase its airtimernto once every three hours, or sevenrntimes a day. Rook reported that therernwere absolutely no negative responses,rnOn the contrary, there were numerousrndemands for copies of Vaus’s album.rnEven Real Countr- Network inrnPhoenix, Arizona, which has more listenersrn(one and a half million) than anyrncountry station in the United States,rnpicked up the song, which once againrnbecame a top-ten request within a week.rnBut in Phoenix, as elsewhere, Vaus’s successrnwas hampered by the unaailabilityrnof his hit. Because there was no stock inrnthe stores at the time of the song’s release,rndemand for “We Must TakernAmerica Back,” as well as for Vius’s follow-rnup single “I’ll Remember in November”rn(a reproval of corrupt House ofrnRepresentative members), soon decreased.rnIn an effort to gain nationalrndistribution Vaus turned to RCA. Butrndespite the fact that his song fit (asrnRook phrased it) “the mood of dissensionrnsweeping the electorate,” the “monkey-rnsee, monkey-do people in the musicrnbusiness” succumbed to pressure fromrntheir politically correct “friends” in radiornand blacklisted Vius, (RCA reportedlyrneven called radio stations and askedrnthem to stop playing the song.) As Vausrncommented in response to the affair, “Irnbelieve radio’s self-appointed gods censoredrnme, and RCA buckled under theirrnpressure.” “Since when does a recordrncompany allow anyone to dictate therncontent of its releases?” he added. “Ice-rnT’s singing about killing cops, and SisterrnSouljah’s rapping for genocide, and Irncan’t sing about God and country?!”rnAs this episode makes clear, Congressrnand criminals are not to be criticized,rnbut the violence and obscenity advocatedrnby “artists” like Icc-T and Sister Souljah,rnas well as 2 Live Crew, Public Enemy,rnMadonna, and most recently 2Pac,rnare protected under the First Amendment.rnFrom 2 lave Crew’s graphicallyrnand misogynously sexual 1990 album AsrnJANUARY 1993/43rnrnrn