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Needless to say, they are matters that antiwar groups also deem irrelevant. But were President Bush to heed the angry slogans screamed at him and withdraw every U.S. soldier from the Middle East tomorrow morning, none of the threats Berman describes would disappear. In that light, the womblike space created by Sam Beam's music starts to sound awfully inviting.
Back at Austin's Urban Outfitters, a postperformance Sam Beam was uncomfortable with his newfound role of generational pied piper. "The first time people started singing along, it threw me for a loop," he recalls of a just-completed series of West Coast shows.
One song in particular, "Upward Over the Mountain," struck a chord with its bittersweet images of a young man writing home. "Mother, don't worry," Beam aches as each verse opens up, flashing on teenage episodes from the family dog giving bloody birth to a brood of pups on the kitchen floor, to an old girlfriend who Mom never quite approved of. And then the chorus:
So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten, sons can be birds taken broken up to the mountain.
Not exactly "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah."
"Those words coming back at me!" Beam marvels with a shake of his head at the memory of several hundred strangers standing together in the dark, their voices all chiming together. "It sounds like an anthem now: 'Hooray! We'll make it through!'"