Lizzie West’s Internet single and alleged college-radio hit “19 Miles to Baghdad” is just what you’d expect from the gutless in 2004: timid piffle with lonesome harmonica and clippity-clopping drums up the ol’ dusty trail of wartime duty. There’s “Billy” and “Mac” trying to be brave, reading the Bible, but no Iraqis getting blown up or foreigners beheaded, and it’s “not an anti-war song, it is an anti-apathy song,” we’re told by her publicists. Realistically, it’s anti-extremity, loyal vanilla American teary-eyed bullshit. With the right promotional muscle, it could move the turgid emotions of millions.
“Tie a yellow ribbon around something,” West sings, and after you’ve heard it repeated a couple times as genuflection for the hand-wringing simpleton, you’ll want to smash someone’s teeth in with a brick. West doesn’t say anything that might bust the morale of our doughboys or the homeland folk flying American flags. Fuck me: It’s right in line with George W. Bush complaining on television that calling the Iraq war “wrong” hurts feelings among the troops.