On Monday (March 17), online political and social action community Think MTV is hosting the world premiere of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder’s “No More” video, a powerful clip calling for the end of the war in Iraq.
The video provides viewers with a window into the life of Tomas Young, a 26-year-old Army veteran, who was shot and paralyzed from the chest down after serving in Iraq for less than a week. Young’s powerful and inspiring story served as the subject of a documentary called “Body of War,” produced by legendary talk-show host Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, slated to hit select theaters later this month.
Young enlisted just two days after the attacks of September 11, intent on fighting those responsible for the deaths of thousands. The documentary details how he turned his personal suffering into political activism, as it questions the conflict that cost him his mobility.
“I shake my fist in impotent rage whenever I hear more evidence that the war [for which] I lost my ability to walk — and so many other things — could have been avoided entirely,” Young says in a video interview with Vedder on Think.
In Vedder’s video, Young’s post-Iraq life is chronicled with painful imagery, interspersed with footage of Vedder performing the song. The clip shows Young maneuvering his wheelchair (which he says is in poor condition and falling apart), speaking to large crowds about his experience overseas and measuring out pain medication in his bed. There’s also footage of war protests, images of a laughing George W. Bush, video of Young getting in and out of his chair and segments showing the veteran meeting with politicians to discuss his struggles.
The video ends with the some startling statistics of the war: the number of soldiers who’ve lost their lives in the war (nearly 4,000), those wounded in combat (28,770), Iraqi casualties (1.2 million), the number of homeless Iraq war veterans (200,000) and veteran suicides (120 a week).
While working on the song, Vedder and Young formed a friendship, which is detailed on Vedder’s and Young’s Think profiles. In fact, some of the lyrics to “No More” were culled from Young’s own words about the war, which Vedder said “helped me say those things with conviction.”
“Tomas has taught me a great deal, and our friendship has become one of depth and sincerity,” Vedder said. “It has been a mind-expanding experience. I see how he relies on the strength of the songs to help him through each day. It is a true living example of the power of music.”
Talking to people like Young and the mothers of soldiers who did not come back from Iraq has proved to Vedder “that this [war] has to stop — like, today.”
On Tuesday, two days before the fifth anniversary of America’s invasion of Iraq, Sire Records will release Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran, a two-CD compilation featuring songs handpicked by Young. The set includes Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder’s previously unreleased, live version of “No More,” which was specifically written for the “Body of War” documentary and performed with Ben Harper at last summer’s Lollapalooza in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Body of War: Songs That Inspired an Iraq War Veteran also boasts tracks from Bright Eyes, Neil Young, Bad Religion, John Lennon, Lupe Fiasco, Bruce Springsteen, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, Kimya Dawson, Laura Cantrell and the Nightwatchman.
“The compilation record was an idea that grew out of my love of music and my reliance on it before, during, and after the war,” Young said. “The songs I selected for the record were tracks that inspired, motivated, and at times, literally saved me over the past few years.”
Sale proceeds from the record will benefit the nonprofit organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), which strives to give a voice to the large number of active-duty service people and veterans who are against the war but are under pressure to remain silent.
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