#BBCtrending: Springsteen performance for veterans panned

Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Zac Brown sing Fortunate Son at the 2014 Concert for Valor. Image copyright AP

The Concert for Valor in Washington, DC on Tuesday was intended as a Veterans Day celebration for US military personnel - as popular musicians and celebrities took to the stage to honour military service and heroism.

Beneath the good vibes, however, is a brewing controversy over the inclusion of the 1969 Vietnam War protest song Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, played early in the concert by Bruce Springsteen, Zac Brown and Dave Grohl.

The lyrics of the piece focus on the hypocrisy of politicians and the influential who supported the Vietnam War but made no sacrifices themselves.

Social media soon lit up with tens of thousands of mentions of the song title and Springsteen, both critical and supportive.

Lyrics from Fortunate Son

Some folks are born made to wave the flag

Ooh, they're red, white and blue

And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"

Oh, they point the cannon at you, Lord ...

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes

Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord

And when you ask them: "How much should we give?"

Oh, they only answer, more, more, more

It ain't me, it ain't me

I ain't no military son

It ain't me, it ain't me

I ain't no fortunate one ...

The choice was "tone-deaf", writes the Weekly Standard's Ethan Epstein. Although it's musically appealing, he says, the song insulted the military audience in attendance.

"The song, not to put too fine a point on it, is an anti-war screed, taking shots at 'the red white and blue'," he writes, "It was a particularly terrible choice given that Fortunate Son is, moreover, an anti-draft song, and this concert was largely organised to honour those who volunteered to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Breitbart's John Nolte doesn't have problem with criticising a draft that allowed the rich and connected to avoid selection, but he says the song also mocks those who patriotically serve in the military as unthinking dupes.

He calls Fortunate Son an "anti-military and anti-troop song written at a time when it was acceptable to trash the men and women who fight our wars as baby killers and worse".

Image copyright Ted Newton

The initial wave of attacks led to a spirited defence of the song and the singers.

"Real patriotism entails exactly this: publicly challenging the status quo in a country you believe to be capable of better things," writes Jessica Goldstein in ThinkProgress.

It's true that not everyone has served in the US military by choice or due to patriotic fervour, writes Salon's Erin Keane, "but Veterans Day is for them, too".

"Fortunate Son honours the experience of those veterans who wouldn't have enlisted if they hadn't been drafted, but did," she says. "It also salutes those who took the best option available to them to access the ever-elusive American Dream and served with dignity and honour, while also raising an eyebrow at tax loopholes and other ways the rich stay in power and the working class get screwed."

Image copyright Patton Oswalt

Perhaps part of the conservative outrage is due to the involvement of veteran rock star Springsteen, who has long been involved in left-wing causes. In 2012, for instance, he gave free performances at President Barack Obama re-election campaign events in key battleground states.

On Wednesday afternoon Fortunate Son's author, John Fogerty, took to Facebook to weigh in on the brewing controversy, saying the meaning of his work "gets misinterpreted and even usurped by various factions wishing to make their own case".

"Years ago, an ultra-conservative administration tried to paint anyone who questioned its policies as 'un-American'," he posted. "That same administration shamefully ignored and mistreated the soldiers returning from Vietnam."

He concludes by noting that he was drafted and served in the Army (although not in Vietnam) during the war.

"I have ultimate respect for the men and women who protect us today and demand that they receive the respect that they deserve," he writes.

As of Thursday morning his post had more than 12,000 likes and 600 comments.

Reporting by Anthony Zurcher

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