Americans are singing the blues over the hostage crisis and the refrain is one of frustration and anger.
Ken Scott, a singer/songwriter and talk show host in Nashville, yesterday nationally released his single, "Let Our People Go." And a tape of a song called "The Chicken Shiites," written by Chance Jones and Roger Hallmark, has already hit the airwaves.
Scott's song includes words of support for President Reagan's decision not to take military action and a mellow, guitar-strummin' plea to Shiite Amal leader Nabih Berri:
Mr. Berri, if you're listening,
Please let our people go.
There is nothing to be gained from hate,
As everybody knows.
But "Chicken Shiites" takes a tougher stance, as singer Roger Hallmark threatens to bomb the terrorists as patriotic tunes play in the background.
Or, as the main refrain suggests, "We're gonna wring the necks of that bunch of chicken Shiites."
"I'm mad," said Hallmark, who is from Birmingham. "I think that's the general consensus of most Americans . . . There's just so little we can do about it. It's like they're pointing a gun at our heads."
Hallmark and Chance wrote and recorded the song a week ago today and sent cassettes to 12 radio stations. "By the weekend, it was just going crazy in Atlanta," he said, and yesterday he received a call from a London radio station, which he said picked the song up from a satellite.
Balladeer Scott finished his ode to the hostages a day after Hallmark, composing his tune between 10 and 10:30 Wednesday morning and recording it later that evening. His record company sent a cassette version of the ballad to several stations via overnight mail. Now, he has pressed a record, featuring singer Earl Clark, and expects Universal Records to release the song overseas. Hallmark also plans to distribute a nationwide single; he said his producer is currently negotiating a deal in Nashville.
Scott said he was worried about reactions before he wrote the song. "I had to figure out a way to write it without people thinking I'm capitalizing on the situation," said Scott, who noted that all the profits from the record will be put into a trust fund for the hostages.
The song, while ruefully acknowledging the tragic pattern of Americans being held hostage, issues a firm note of support for Reagan's policy. Scott said he is proudest of his lyric backing Reagan:
It's easy to play president from your living room chair.
What would you do if you were over there?
For those who have been released, their nightmare is through.
For those who are still missing, we're prayin' for you.
"I think the president has done a great job," Scott said. "If you go over there and drop a bomb, you may end up killing our own people." Scott says about 2,000 listeners have issued their opinion on the matter during his talk show in the days since the hijacking. Most have been supportive of Reagan's policy, he said.
Scott, who has released one album and about 15 country singles, said response to his song has been very positive. Last Friday, he said he received 94 calls from the news media, and he heard that a St. Louis station played it 10 times in one day. He has been giving the song plenty of air time on his own station as well.
A similar musical reaction followed the news of the Iranians taking Americans hostage in November 1979, as songwriters vented their frustration. Among the songs were: "Let's Make Islamic Atomic," "Take Your Oil and Shove It," "We're Going to Kick Your Ass, Take Your Gas, and Say Ayatollah So" and "Khomaniac."
Hallmark cut his first national single at the height of the Iranian crisis. He cowrote "A Message to Khomeini," his first big hit following a series of topical songs that never made it out of Alabama.
"The Chicken Shiites" doesn't mince any words when it comes to stating its sentiments about the terrorists. Hallmark declares:
Let's see how brave they are. When Ronnie hollers charge,
That's when the Shiites hit the fan.
The song ends with something apparently meant to resemble Shiite chanting, as a backup band plays highlights from "Anchors Aweigh," "America the Beautiful," "The Caisson Song" and, of course, "The Star-Spangled Banner."