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Ani DiFranco's stand against injustice

Review by David Thurston | January 24, 2003 | Page 9

MUSIC: Ani DiFranco, Righteous Babe Records, 2002--CD: So Much Shouting So Much Laughter. DVD: Render: Spanning Time with Ani DiFranco.

THERE'S A lot to love in two recent releases from Ani DiFranco--especially her forceful opposition to war, racism and injustice.

This fall, DiFranco released a live, double CD, titled So Much Shouting, So Much Laughter, and a DVD called Render: Spanning Time with Ani DiFranco. On Render, Ani offers great music and road-trip footage, but most strikingly, interludes between pieces in which Ani tackles political questions closest to her heart.

In one, she explains why she kept her record label based in Buffalo, N.Y., and captures the devastation that industrial decline brought to the city's Black and working-class population. This puts flesh on a line from "Cradle and All," in which she writes "The Tyco plant went to Mexico/Left my uncle standing out in the cold/Saying here's your last paycheck, have fun growing old." Another standout is a segment titled "Criminal Injustice System," which focuses on the death penalty.

But the most welcome political statement is "Self-Evident," a poem set to music in which she describes the horror of September 11, but comes out resolutely against Bush's wars on Afghanistan and Iraq.

She issues a bold statement of solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism: "So here's a toast to all the folks who live in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, El Salvador/ Here's a toast to the folks living on the Pine Ridge reservation under the stone cold gaze of Mt. Rushmore."

She goes on to blast Dubya: "We hold these truths to be self evident: #1 George W. Bush is not president/ #2 America is not a true democracy/ #3 The media is not fooling me."

Even if you can't always agree with her solutions, it's great to have an artist who poses so many of the right questions. And at a time when so many musicians have remained silent about Bush's plan for endless war, DiFranco is a voice for our side.

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