Amnesty International, the leftist "human rights" group that called the U.S. detention center at Gitmo a "gulag for our times" and now supports abortion, has a new fundraising project. It's a 4-CD set called "Chimes of Freedom," a large collection of Bob Dylan songs covered by a wide array of musical talents -- and some of the names are a little shocking. We're not talking about the usual far-left suspects (Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Jackson Browne, Billy Bragg, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Morello) or the slightly trendier lefties (Sting, Sinead O'Connor, Michael Franti, even Maroon 5).
We're talking about Miley Cyrus ("Hannah Montana") and Ke$ha, the "Tik Tok" techno-pop tart who usually sings about getting drunk and naked. The Miley Cyrus Facebook page currently urges you to "Like" Amnesty International.
Miley's song, "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," is obviously the one track that is selling fastest on iTunes. (Apple promises that 59 cents of every $1.29 track or $11.90 of the $19.99 whole album purchase goes to Amnesty).
Ke$ha sings "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," and for pure randomness of star selection, the same song is performed in instrumental version by the hipster classical Kronos Quartet.
Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly was also a little shocked:
Bob Dylan never wrote any songs about body glitter or throwing up in the closet. So one may wonder why Ke$ha appears on Amnesty International's new benefit disc "Chimes of Freedom"... But on her stripped-down ''Don't Think Twice, It's All Right,'' Ke$ha gets the song's heartbreak right; you can actually hear her sobbing between verses. If there's ever a reason to believe the girl's capable of deeper feelings than ''vaguely hungover,'' this is it.,,
To quote from the 1964 Dylan song that gives this comp its name, Bob has always been a champion of ''the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones, an' worse.'' So it makes sense that the best covers here come from the misfits (Ke$ha), the punks (check out Rise Against's raging ''Ballad of Hollis Brown''), the outsiders (Mexican pop star Ximena Sariñana's excellent ''I Want You''), and the radicals (''With God on Our Side'' finds Somali-born Toronto rapper K'naan challenging American hawkishness as only a Canadian can).
As Amnesty itself described the project:
The performers, including many of Amnesty International's longtime supporters, range in age from Miley Cyrus, 19, to folk music legend Pete Seeger, who, at 92, records Dylan's poignant "Forever Young," with a children's chorus.
The diversity of the musicians and musical genres -- from rock, rap, hip-hop to pop, folk, country, jazz and blues -- attests to Amnesty's depth of support in the music community, the universal appeal of the core message of human rights, and the breadth of Dylan's impact on culture.
For a glimpse of Miley Cyrus acting more like someone in a Ke$ha song, click here. (Parental discretion advised.)