Sergeant! Take this back and gimme that Titanic CD instead

According to this Washington Post article [via Boing Boing], Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" is Sadaam Hussein's campaign theme song for today's presidential referendum. Before it became a the most popular Valentine song in England, it was the love theme for The Bodyguard. I imagine somewhere in the Pentagon, a psyops playlist is being revised; Whitney'll have to find some other way of contributing to the (Bush, not Husseini) war effort.

With Houston off the (turn)table, I wondered what does Operation MC Hammer play? Most accounts of the 1989 US invasion of Panama universally mention just generic "rock music" or "hard rock music"; in Iraq I, it was "grunge and death rock", but actual bands and titles are hard to come by. But not impossible. And the throwaway labels, "rock" and "grunge" turn out to obscure more than illuminate the actual operations.

Piecing together the US Military and FBI Psychological Warfare Compilation Tape, it seems that they're programming more for themselves, not for their opponents. Like Robert Duvall's Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, who clearly relishes the Wagner he blasts out of his chopper, when the ATF plays "These boots were made for walkin'" in Waco, it's just a morale booster for their own guys. (Did it drive Koresh mad? Wasn't he already there? And how many people actually put on those boots and walked out?) When it comes to psyops, you have to wonder whose heads are really being messed with.

The playlist so far:

  • Nowhere to Run, Martha and the Vandellas (Noriega/Panama)
  • You're No Good, Linda Rondstadt.
  • Highway to Hell, AC/DC
  • We're Not Gonna Take it, Twisted Sister
  • If I Had a Rocket Launcher, Bruce Cockburn
  • I Fought the Law, Bobby Fuller Four
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Flesh for Fantasy, Billy Idol
  • Metallica (Iraq I)
  • Tibetan monk chants (Branch Davidians/Waco)
  • Achy Breaky Heart, Billy Ray Cyrus (reportedly a joke)
  • These Boots Were Made For Walkin', Nancy Sinatra (not a joke)
  • "Pop music and Christmas songs"
  • Clock ticking
  • Busy signal
  • Jet engines
  • Screams of dying rabbits

    [Correction: Two readers--neither of them Sandy Gallin--wrote to demand credit be given to Dolly Parton for that Whitney song. They were more worked up than the Klingons who corrected my (only other) previous error (ever). With fans like that...]

  • Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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    first published: October 16, 2002.

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