In July 1970, as mass protests against the Vietnam War spread across the country in the wake of the invasion of Cambodia and the killings of demonstrators that spring at Kent State University, recording artist Edwin Starr hit No. 1 on the pop charts with a song called "War." (Its memorable refrain: "War - huhhh - what is it good for - absolutely nothing !")
Thirty-one years later, the song has been, um, re-interpreted to suit these sports-obsessed times of ours. The "artist" formerly known as linebacker Ray Lewis is out with a hip-hop version on CD just in time for the opening of the Ravens training camp. It's a fight song/marketing anthem full of human grunts and dog barks and rhythm tracks layered on rhythm tracks and the refrain: "War - huhhh - right here in Baltimore - every purple Sunday."
The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Lewis went into a recording studio on North Charles Street a couple Saturdays ago with a four-member singing group called Trezure and, with the help of a producer, spent about 14 hours laying down the vocal, trying to get it just right.
"He's a perfectionist; he just went over and over," says Fred Fillah, the sports marketeer who dreamed up the notion of doing a Ravens song with Lewis. Figuring that "every team is going to be gunning for the Ravens" this season following their 2001 Super Bowl victory, it seemed a good time for a fight song.
"War" seemed a natural choice, as did Lewis: "I knew Ray was a rapper," he says.
Running just under 11 minutes, the CD includes three versions of the anthem, one designed for play at PSINet Stadium, another for dance clubs and a shorter version for radio stations, several of which in Baltimore are expected to start playing the song tomorrow.
Basketball stars Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers and Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers "have done really well with music," says Fillah. "Will Ray Lewis be the next one? I don't know."