John Legend
Singer / Songwriter
02:03

Is there a generation gap in understanding the Iraq War?

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This generation barely knows it's at war.

John Legend

John Legend, is an American soul singer, songwriter, and pianist. He has won six Grammy Awards.  Born John Stephens, Legend was a child prodigy who grew up in Ohio, where he began singing gospel and playing piano at the tender age of five. Legend left Ohio at 16 to attend college in Philadelphia, and it was there that he first found a larger audience. Not yet out of his teens, Legend was tapped to play piano on Lauryn Hill's "Everything Is Everything" in 1998.

After completing college, he moved to New York, where he began to build a loyal following playing in nightclubs and releasing CDs that he would sell at shows. He also became an in-demand session musician, playing and occasionally writing for a wide array of artists, including Alicia Keys, Twista, Janet Jackson, and Kanye West.

It wasn't until West signed the young talent to his new label that he adopted the Legend name with 2004's Solo Sessions Vol. 1: Live at the Knitting Factory. Get Lifted, his first studio album, was released later in the year. On the strength of enduring single "Ordinary People," the album reached the Top Five of the Billboard 200. This led to three Grammy Awards: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Male Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. Once Again, which peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B/hip-hop Albums chart, followed in October 2006. Live from Philadelphia, sold exclusively at Target stores, was a successful stopgap release that predated October 2008's Evolver.

Transcript

John Legend: Well I think certain things are different about each of those wars [the US/Iraq war and the US/Afghanistan war]. But I think fundamentally both of those wars were wars of choice that, in retrospect, particularly for me in advance I believed that Iraq was a bad idea, but in retrospect I believe that even more people believe that. But both of those were wars of choice.

One major difference is the lack of a draft in Iraq versus the draft in Vietnam. I think more people felt the pain of Vietnam because of the draft, and because so many more people across a broader spectrum of socio-economic status were going to the war. And so I think the country felt the pain, and young people particularly felt the pain of Vietnam more than I think we feel it now here in 2008 with Iraq. Because a lot of us don’t even know people that are at war. We know of people, but there are a lot of us that don’t know people that are in Iraq. I meet families on the road, but I don’t have any family members that are in Iraq, and a lot of people don’t. And I think that allows a lot of people to not think about Iraq, and not think about the fact that 4,000 of our soldiers have died there; and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died during the time that we’ve been there.

It allows us to kind of distance ourselves from it, but I hope we don’t forget that war is costly. War costs a lot of lives, and it costs a lot of money that we could have been spending on a lot of other things. And hopefully our next president will not take us into a war of choice with the recklessness that we were taken into Iraq.

Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008


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