Song for Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

David Rovics has written a 'Song for Bradley Manning', the GI accused of being the source of the Wikileaks' Cablegate scandal, and a poorly recorded version is already on Youtube. He is trying to raise funds to record it professionally, since he gives his music away for free. The lyrics are excellent and the public just aren't exposed to enough decent protest songs, certainly none about Wikileaks. He is also about to tour Europe again.




Song for Bradley Manning - David Rovics

Private Manning was an analyst if what they say is true
He was paid to read reports and find the patterns sifting through
As he read the data the patterns did emerge
Patterns that were clear both before and since the Surge
Patterns of abuse of the most horrific kind
Gunning down civilians out of view and out of mind
Gunning down the opposition in the middle of the night
Sending off the scholars to be tortured out of sight
Sometimes you need desperate measures when you live in desperate times
And Private Manning saw he was looking at war crimes
He wondered what to do to allow the dead to speak
He finally decided to contact Wikileaks
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes

Now Adrian Lamo has to live within his skin
He stabbed Bradley in the back, called the cops and turned him in
But not before the soldier took half a million files
If you printed all the pages they'd stretch on for miles
Evidence against the state right from the horse's mouth
Machinations in the west, bombings in the south
A treasure trove of details for all the globe to see
How much they need to lie and kill for democracy
How many drone strikes have hit villages leaving everyone to die
They blamed on someone else – the official line, “Not I”
How many coups have been plotted by ambassadors who say
That free and fair elections be the order of the day
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes

Now the Genie's out of the bottle and they're trying to stuff it back
And stop it from illuminating everything we lack
Such as the rule of law or playing by the book
Look you can read it, it's right here, the ship of state is run by crooks
And they vilify the messengers, call them every name
For daring to blow the whistle on the nature of their game
The game of taking lives and endangering the rest
In order for the wealthy few to do what they do best
Dominate the world for the corporate elite
But now their cover's blown from their head down to their feet
And now the stars and stripes is looking much more like a rag
The lid is off the box, the cat's out of the bag
Now it's all out on the table and everybody knows
The emperor is naked, he's not wearing any clothes



Hi folks,

Since I recorded “Song for Bradley Manning” on my iPhone less than two weeks ago it has been viewed many thousands of times. This is a lot more than usual for a song that was recorded badly and has received no radio airplay or media attention aside from the occasional blog. I've been getting emails from lots of people I don't know, which is a very good sign.

I have noticed that the songs and videos of mine and other people's that tend to go viral like that, without the help of conventional media, usually share certain things in common. One is they're songs that speak to people. The other is they're professionally recorded with a good band and they have a professional-quality video to go with them. Also, though independent music is never heard on the commercial airwaves and rarely on the “public” or on syndicated “independent” programs either, if there's any hope of a song breaking that sound barrier, it needs to be professionally recorded.

My business model, such as it is, is to write topical songs, make some kind of recording of them, release them on the web for free and hope that some of the people who hear the songs will want to organize a gig for me when I'm in their area. This model allows me to make a decent enough living, though I can't afford some things like health insurance and, since my daughter was born, I have not been able to afford to make any recordings with a band.

If you go to, where I have 248 songs up for free download, you can see that most of the songs to make it into the “Soundclick Top 50” or “Soundclick Top 10” are from the last studio CD I recorded that involved a band, which was in 2006.

I'm happy to live within my means and continue to make inexpensive, generally solo-guitar-and-voice recordings that I put up on the web. Given the obvious interest in this song, however, I thought I'd put it out there, come what may, that I would be even happier to make a high-quality studio recording of the song with a great bunch of professional musicians and then make a music video to go along with it.

I can't pay for it, though, and there aren't any record labels approaching me about it either, and there won't be. I know that probably half of you reading this also don't have health insurance. But for those of you with any disposable income, be it $10 or $100 or more, here's my offer, take it or leave it:

Any donations that come in via the “donate” button at (where you can also hear the song in question) by the end of this month will be used next month to make a high-quality recording of the song. This email will be the only effort I will make at raising this money. Here's what I will do with it, depending on how much people donate:

$500 I'll rent an award-winning studio for the day and make a high-quality solo recording

$2,000 I'll rent the studio for two days along with several amazing studio musicians and make a recording of the song with a band

$4,000 I'll hire the studio, the band, and a team of professional cut-rate videographers to make an MTV-quality video in the process

In the unlikely event of more donations than that, I'll hire a publicist to try to get the song some conventional media attention. To make the concept more interesting, anybody who contributes $500 or more gets a complementary house concert next time I'm in your country or region.

Obviously, feel free to share this email with whoever you want to.