FLAP ON THE 4th

Charlie Daniels feels the heat for his 9/11 anthem and fires back

Toby Keith isn't the only star who got the TV boot for stating his musical viewpoint. Charlie Daniels found himself in the eye of a similar political storm for his strongly worded tribute to Sept. 11 victims, "The Last Fallen Hero."

Charlie was scheduled to perform on the PBS July 4 special A Capitol Fourth in Washington, D.C. But PBS officials asked Charlie not to do "The Last Fallen Hero," because of its no-holds-barred references to revenge (sample lyric: The blood of innocence and shame / Will not be shed in vain).

PBS execs said they wanted "zestful fiddle tunes" instead. Charlie respectfully -- but firmly -declined to be on the show.

In an open letter to PBS, Charlie wrote: "This song is a tribute to the people who lost their lives on 9/11, the policemen, firemen ... the military personnel and thousands of innocent people in the bombing of the Trade Towers. What better day to pay tribute than the Fourth of July? After all, what are we celebrating on Independence Day?"

Charlie adds, "I truly don't understand the actions of PBS, a network which espouses the causes of some pretty far out characters in the name of free speech. What happened to my freedom of speech? Is music excluded?"

This wasn't Charlie's first brush with TV's power brokers. Last October, he was dropped from CMT's Country Freedom Concert after the network requested that he not perform his hit "This Ain't No Rag, It's A Flag," citing its inflammatory nature. Charlie walked away rather than compromise.

He's become accustomed to taking the heat for his uncompromising stands. Songs like "In America," "Simple Man" and "(What This World Needs Is) A Few More Rednecks," have been both roundly applauded and criticized. But Charlie remains totally astounded by the recent PBS flap.

"I thought the song was the perfect Fourth of July song," declares Charlie. "I still do."

-- Bob Paxman

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