Help Kay Hanley save the internet!

We all know who invented the internet, but now Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley -- among many others -- is out to save it.

In case you haven't been following the dastardly battle going down in Congress, Big Telecom is on the verge of wrecking the Web with a fucked-up piece of legislation that would allow internet providers to charge you more money depending on what sites you visit -- or even to block your access to certain sites altogether. If that sounds like some conspiracy bullshit, you better get on our level. Quick. In this week's issue, editorializes against it, obv.:

The Internet may not be free for much longer. The Republicans who control the House of Representatives, joined by two-thirds of the Democrats, just voted to allow telephone and cable companies that control Internet traffic to begin charging more for meaningful access. The move could create two classes of online users: the haves and the have-nots. In the process, it could destroy a revolutionary democratic-communication medium that empowers all . . . The best hope of saving the Internet from the clutches of corporate pirates is the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2006, which is the brainchild of Senators Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine, and Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. The Internet Freedom Act protects what’s known as “network neutrality” by defining the obligations of broadband providers as they supply the link between content providers and consumers. [READ THE FULL EDITORIAL]

It isn't often that we find ourselves siding with the Amazons and Microsofts of the world, but in this case it's kind of a no-brainer. Earlier this week, ex-Tsunami/Simple Machines honcho Jenny Toomey, of the awesome Future of Music Coalition, editorialized at in favor of "net neutrality," which is quickly becoming a rallying cry for free-internet crusaders: "For musicians, net neutrality means they should have the unfettered ability to make their work available to potential fans without undue interference from corporate gatekeepers."

Among the groups gearing up for a Senatorial letter campaign is Save the Internet, a  watchdog group that's keeping close tabs on the fight. The site also commissioned Jill Sobule to write the nascent movement's official protest song. So she grabbed her pals Kay Hanley and Hanley's writing partner Michelle Lewis and wrote, in about an hour, a hilarious (and not a little catchy) song called "God Save the Internet." As first lines go, this song's "Hey Mr. Telephone Man" is pretty awesome, in that the melody recalls "Mr. Tambourine Man" while the words echo, of course, New Edition. From there, the track takes aim at Congress, Big Telecom, and also manages to sneak in a gratuitous swipe at Britney Spears's mothering skills. Recalling the internet as that place "where I get my music and I get my news, where I hookup with a creep or I buy my shoes," the girls -- who recorded the track as the Broadband, which is totally the best double-entendre we've heard all year -- warn that lawmakers and lobbyists are about to enact "a modern mess, where some of them folks in our Congress/want to send us back to the days of the Pony Express." Best part ever: In a call-and response coda that sounds like it coulda been lifted from a Le Tigre song, they count off all the people who would be opposed to this measure. "Jesus -- Wouldn’t mess with our internet!" Who else? "John F. Kennedy!" "Martin Luther King!" "Ghandi!" And, for good measure, "Ben Kingsley!"

As soon as we heard the track, OTD rang up Kay to see how she ended up on the front lines of the digital culture wars. "Well, we've kinda been hanging out with Jill and writing with her [for Hanley and Lewis's girl-group the Dilettantes], and she was doing stuff for Air America. She did a song for them called "Put Him In the Hall of Fame," [download it here] about George W. and how if he'd only stayed in baseball instead of politics. She's been pretty involved with political action for liberal causes. So the Save the Internet guys called her to do a song about this, and she called us. This all happened in two weeks. It took us an hour to write it, the three of us with acoustic guitars in Jill's living room, and then we recorded it in Michelle's home studio."

DOWNLOAD: The Broadband (Kay Hanley, Jill Sobule, Michelle Lewis), "God Save the Internet" (mp3, via Save the Internet)

Meanwhile, Hanley's gearing up for a couple of hometown shows, including her annual appearance at ESPN dude Peter Gammons's "Hot Stove, Cool Music" shindig over at Fenway Park. And she's also got a shitload of new material in the works, including a solo album in progress. A Dilettantes record is scheduled to come out in January. With Michelle, she just sold a kids' show to Disney, which is great news for anyone who remembers Generation O. "It's called The Musiquarium," Hanley reveals, "and it's about a brother and sister who live in an alternate universe, this kind of Frank Gehry-esque Sesame Street, and they have a band. It's sort of Schoolhouse Rock meets Pee-Wee's Playhouse." And Hanley also continues to write and produce demos for aspiring young women in the record industry, though she's now got a favorite: a teen hip-pop trio called Shut Up Stella. "I'm writing songs with them, they write all their own lyrics. You've got to go listen to them on MySpace. The lead singer, Jesse, her manager brough her to me about a year ago. Our rapper just graduated from high school today!" OTD has sampled, and hereby proclaims them fucking adorable. You can catch Kay on July 13 at T.T.'s or July 16 on Yawkey Way.


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