There’s no shortage of issues being bandied about in this year’s U.S. presidential campaign. But it’s one that Joe Walsh feels is NOT being addressed — issues facing U.S. military veterans of current conflicts in the Middle East — that led to his new song, “No Man’s Land,” for the documentary Citizen Soldier, which is premiered exclusively below.
“This is really a forgotten war over there. There’s not political candidate that has touched what we’re doing over there. Nobody,” Walsh tells Billboard. “It’s not even talked about and it’s not even in the media. Nowhere can you get a report on what’s been going on or progress or even deaths or injuries or anything, and that’s just not OK with me. And these guys are coming home either missing arms or legs or just completely shattered, mentally. And I see homeless vets and I go, ‘That’s not OK.’
“I just hope that the documentary is a slap in the face or a wake-up call as to maybe revisiting what we’re doing over there and why and giving a f–k about it.”
Directed by David Salzberg and Christian Tureud, Citizen Soldier tells the story of the Oklahoma National Guard 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team — aka The Thunderbirds — who were deployed to Afghanistan during the latest surge and used Go-Pro helmet cameras to record their day-to-day life there. Walsh was introduced to the film by Tureud and immediately volunteered to write “No Man’s Land” after viewing some of the footage.
“It’s compelling because it’s not a scripted, staged, Hollywood movie. It’s the real thing. It’s profound, really,” Walsh recalls. “I wanted to jump on board and be part of this and hope that it starts some sort of dialogue at home. these guys went to high school together. They say “the only thing we really had was to get each other home. That’s why we were fighting. We didn’t really know the military objective for the State Department position of our country; We were getting fired at and we just wanted to get the job done and get home to our families.
“So that’s what I wrote the song about — ‘We’re out here in nowhere land, and the only way home is my brothers and my god and me. And the people that we’re fighting have a God, and our Gods don’t agree.’ I just wanted to tell their story the way I saw it in the film.”
“No Man’s Land” is not currently available commercially, but Walsh is hoping to make it available for sale in some way to raise money for veterans organization. “I’m not doing this for profit or to have a hit record,” he says. “It’ll never get any airplay, but if people download it, that money will be used for the guys coming home.”
Walsh is just off a busy summer of touring, including a co-headlining run with Bad Company. He recorded a couple of the shows and is considering putting together a live album, possibly for digital download. Meanwhile he’s preparing for the Eagles‘ Kennedy Center Honor ceremony, taking place on Dec. 3 in Washington, D.C., which will be filmed for broadcast on December 27 on CBS. The group postponed the honor from last year because of Glenn Frey‘s illness, and his passing earlier this year will make the event a bittersweet occasion.
“It’s happy/sad because Glenn won’t be there, but we will show up and represent,” Walsh says. “We don’t have a lot of say in it; We’re just supposed to sit there and look like we’re cool and we have people in the government to meet and a luncheon and the actual program. I haven’t gotten dressed up like that, a black-tie thing, much — maybe once or twice. I suppose they’ll get some people to show up and do Eagles songs; I don’t think they’ll top Aretha (Franklin, from last year), though. It is an honor and I’m humbled by it and grateful.” It may also serve as the true swan song for the Eagles in the wake of Frey’s death, too.
“Yeah, I think so. That puts maybe a little closure on it, and it’s a lovely, happy ending,” Walsh says. “We like that, us human beings.”