Since the Iraq war began, musicians have been singing out, both for and against American policy. But it seems like the public is less tolerant of protesters.
War has always inspired poems and songs. The war in Iraq is no exception, and some anthems have emerged that seem to capture the moment, like country superstar Clint Black's "Iraq and Roll." The song features these lyrics:
I'm back, and I'm a high-tech GI Joe. I pray for peace, prepare for war, And I never will forget. There's no price too high for freedom, So be careful where you tread.
Black says he feels obliged to honor American soldiers.
"Considering that our troops looked like they were going to be sent into harm's way, I don't think I could have kept my mouth shut and not rallied behind them," he said.
Dixie Chicks CDs Burned
Many pop music fans remember the Vietnam War era, when artists like Bob Dylan emerged with anthems for protesters. But in this conflict, artistic expression seems to be taking a back seat to caution.
The Dixie Chicks went from being one of the hottest bands to outcasts after making critical remarks about President Bush. In Louisiana and other cities, fans destroyed the country trio's CDs, and that might say a lot about public tolerance for anti-war music.
But there are exceptions. Alternative metal band System of a Down's "Boom" hit mainstream airwaves and climbed the charts, boosted by a video directed by activist filmmaker Michael Moore. But other bands seemed to be singing songs of protest sotto voce.
REM's anti-war anthem "Final Straw" was released only on the band's Web site. That's been the case for other artists, too, including Lenny Kravitz. His newest effort, "We Want Peace," featured Iraqi and Palestinian musicians.
"People need to say what it is they want to say, that is America, that is the American way," Kravitz said.
Kravitz says the song is not anti-anything. It's simply a plea for peace. But that position has been interpreted by some as unpatriotic.
Madonna Shelves ‘American Life’
Controversy queen Madonna shelved her "American Life" video before it was released. The violent, anti-war video featured Madonna wearing military garb next to dancers in camouflage on a fashion runway. At one point, a grenade is thrown in the direction of a President Bush look-alike. Scenes are intercut with images of war.
In a statement posted on her Web site, the singer said the video was filmed before the war started and was not appropriate at this time.
"Due to the volatile state of the world and out of sensitivity and respect to the armed forces, who I support and pray for, I do not want to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video," Madonna said.
Madonna's past videos have stirred controversy, generally over sexual content. Although in the past some networks have been unwilling to broadcast her more suggestive works, music channel MTV was prepared to air "American Life."
"We were excited to get it and we were going to actually have her context the video and explain why she made it and then she decided to pull it," says Tom Calderone, MTV executive vice president for music and talent programming.
Calderone is unsure whether the public is simply more sensitive about criticizing the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but he thinks it's a cause for concern.
"I don't like the fact that artists are afraid to put their products out right now," he said. "That's scary."
ABCNEWS' Chris Cuomo contributed to this report.