On May 17, 2005, Zakk Wylde did something that I had never seen anyone do before; he defended George Bush.  During his band Black Label Society’s concert in Souget just outside of St. Louis, Zakk stopped after one of his blistering numbers to address the Iraq War.   He called Michael Moore a liar, rejected Farenheit 9/11 as garbage, and commended George Bush as a good commander-in-chief.  This was during the height of the anti-Bush hysteria of the mid-2000’s, and the fever had even taken over the normally independent psyche of the hard rock scene.  But Zakk Wylde was having none of that! 

Zakk Wylde took over as Ozzy Osbourne’s guitar player in 1987.  He was on his release No Rest for the Wicked in 1988, and has been playing with Ozzy for the better part of two decades.  He also started a project called Pride and Glory in 1995 which evolved into Black Label Society in 1998.  BLS is a brilliant blend of heavy metal music and an American frontier feel.  Zakk guitar playing is legendary not only for his technical proficiency but for his distinctive sound and sense of song.  And his vocals have a rough country feel, reminding some of the late Ronnie Van Zant.

Zakk Wylde is a devout Christian, but he also has little tolerance for religious fanatics.  With songs like “Suicide Messiah”, “Black Mass Reverends”, and “Doomsday Jesus”, Zakk explores the inimical consequences of blind devotion to demagogues.  Zakk is a firm supporter of the military, but also recognizes that some world leaders are warmongers.  “Destruction Override” is another driving number about how things can get out of hand.  “Machine Gun Man” is a tribute to our nation’s veterans.

On this night, Zakk was very clear on how he stood on the nation’s mission in Iraq.  On the enemy he said “you are down with the Devil, well that’s great because we are down with God, and we will kick your ass!”   The crowd responded with a roar of approval, which might surprise many of the people who think headbangers don’t get into that sort of thing. 

We do.

Many would say “keep politics out of music”.  But you have to understand, there were soooooo many bands that were jumping on the anti-Bush, anti-American bandwagon that Wylde’s statements were a justified and balancing response.  What he did was right.  Barack Obama did not win on the strength of his ability to explain policy, he won one his ability to galvanize demographics that were very much influenced by popular culture.

I would not say that Black Label Society is conventional popular culture, but as Ozzy Osbourne’s longest running guitar player and one of the best in the world, his voice rings as loud as any.  And he made a stand when it was easy and cool to go with the bash your nation trend.

Zakk, we thank you not just for the great music, but for having your nation’s back.  You are the man.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Chuck
    March 26, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Good write-up on this. I am definitely buying more BLS music; I love metal but I can’t stand anti-American, leftwing idiots like Lamb of God.

    • March 26, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      Lamb f God is anti-American. That sucks. Otep pulled that crap in St. Louis too! Lame fad-core. Zakk is for real, and loves this nation!

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