Which could explain why alt-country singer Steve Earle is under fire from Nashville and predicting his deportation from the country (jokingly, he hopes), after sparking controversy with a new song that sympathizes with Lindh.
The tune, called "John Walker's Blues," won't be released until September, when it'll be on Earle's new album Jerusalem. But some are wondering whether Earle has stepped over the line by portraying Lindh as "an American boy raised on MTV" who "has to fight for what he believes," and comparing him to Jesus Christ.
A few of the verses go like this: "If daddy could see me now--chains around my feet/He don't understand that sometimes a man/Has to fight for what he believes/And I believe God is great all praise due to him/And if I should die I'll rise up to the sky/Just like Jesus peace be upon him."
Earle hasn't commented on the controversy, other than to say during a recent performance that "this song may just get me fucking deported," Reuters reports.
Earle has always been an outlaw in Nashville, earning a cult following for his stripped-down, rootsy style while garnering little radio airplay. Over the past two decades, he's released critically acclaimed albums like Guitar Town and Copperhead Road, but his career was derailed in the early '90s because of drug addiction and trouble with the law.
Nashville deejay Steve Gill, however, believes Earle simply wrote the song to "be outrageous to attract attention."
"We're within a one-year period of the attacks on America, and I think it's too early for a song like this," he told CNN. "He is free to put his song out there, and the American people are free to say 'No thank you' when it comes to buying it."
Up until now, many artists have held to a similar, patriotic theme when writing about the events of September 11 and beyond. Neil Young's album Are You Passionate? featured the song "Let's Roll," inspired by events aboard the hijacked airliner that went down in a Pennsylvania field on September 11. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, offered up the simple anthem "Freedom," and country star Toby Keith wrote "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," which stirred up some controversy of its own when ABC nixed him from its Fourth of July concert special.
Most recently, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have stepped out with their own album of reflections on America after September 11. The Rising features one song, "Paradise," that's written from a suicide bomber's perspective.
In publicity material for his new album, Earle explains his thoughts behind "John Walker's Blues," saying he wanted to look behind why Lindh left America in the first place.
"I'm trying to make clear that wherever [Lindh] got to, he didn't arrive there in a vacuum," he said. "I don't condone what he did...My son Justin is almost exactly Walker's age.
"Would I be upset if he suddenly turned up fighting for the Islamic Jihad? Sure, absolutely. Fundamentalism, as practiced by the Taliban, is the enemy of real thought, and religion too," he added. "But there are real circumstances...He was a smart kid, he graduated from high school early, the culture here didn't impress him, so went out looking for something to believe in."
The following are complete lyrics to "John Walker's Blues":
I'm just an American boy raised on MTV
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him
A shadu la ilaha illa Allah
There is no God but God
If my daddy could see me now--chains around my feet
He don't understand that sometimes a man
Has to fight for what he believes
And I believe God is great all praise due to him
And if I should die I'll rise up to the sky
Just like Jesus, peace be upon him
We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong
As death filled the air we all offered up prayers
And prepared for our martyrdom
But Allah had some other plan some secret not revealed
Now they're draggin' me back with my head in a sack
To the land of the infidel