Here are (some of) the Protest Songs

Yesterday in this space I asked the question, “Where are the Protest Songs?” Is the genre dead and gone or just not in my musical sphere? After all I am in my 60’s. It’s likely I might not be tuned into the hip stuff.

Several of my readers came to the rescue with titles of modern protest songs. I was familiar with a couple of them, but honestly, I didn’t realize they actually WERE protest songs. Too much listening to loud rock and roll in my youth might’ve impacted my ability to hear the lyrics. But now that I’ve been pointed in the right direction, I can hear these songs for what they are.

First, here’s a video clip from the Australian group, Midnight Oil, called Beds are Burning. My blogging friend Barbara at https://balindseyblog.wordpress.com/ brought it to my attention.

https://youtu.be/ejorQVy3m8E

Barbara provided this information: “Beds are Burning is arguably the most resonantly subversive artistic gesture ever made by Australians. Released by the country’s biggest rock group just months before Australia marked, on 26 January 1988, the 200th anniversary of the first fleet’s arrival in Sydney, it ensured that the dominant soundtrack of our bicentennial year would be a song which reminded that the country we were celebrating was founded on pillage and genocide.”

Another blogging friend, Marty at snakesinthegrassblog.com pointed me in the direction of musician Steve Earle’s The Revolution Starts Now, released in 2004.

https://youtu.be/AirdHLCj4MY

Both of these songs fill the protest song bill, and they both remain relevant.

My blogging friend Zoolon at zoolonhub.com is a talented musician who shared one of his original pieces, Sunlight and the Dust. It’s a mighty fine song of the protest genre and deserves a listen. By the way, Zoolon does all the instrumentation as well as the vocals. I told you he was talented.

https://zoolon.bandcamp.com/track/sunlight-and-the-dust

I’m going to continue scouting out more protest songs. If you know of one that speaks to today’s issues please pass it along. We need anthems. We need rallying points. We need righteous anger set to music.

Peace, people.

Where are the Protest Songs?

There is an old Chinese curse, “你可能生活在有趣的时代” (Nǐ kěnéng shēnghuó zài yǒuqù de shídài) that translates to “May you live in interesting times.” It seems as though, since the 2016 election that we are in the throes of that curse.

I’m not naive enough to believe that the times in which we are living are any more or less interesting than any other periods of history. It is easy, though, to fall prey to that mindset when every day we witness so many worrisome events. Trump’s recent bad behavior at the G7 conference adds to the evidence.

In the late 60’s I was a sheltered little girl living in rural Floydada, Texas. I wasn’t completely clueless, though. I knew about the Vietnam War, after all, it came to our television sets direct from the battlefields every night. Also on my tv I watched protesters marching against the war, young men burning their draft cards and seeking asylum in Canada. And, I’d seen television coverage of the Civil Rights movement. The clashes between protesters and police officers were disturbing, but in my little cocoon none of that really touched me.

Then in May of 1970 four college students protesting the Vietnam War were killed by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State in Ohio. I was 13, not much younger than the students who lost their lives that day. The desire to make my voice heard began to rise.

I’d love to tell you that I immediately left my home to join in angry protests, but again, I was just 13. I did start paying attention, though, not just to the protests, but to the protest songs.

Like this one from Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

https://youtu.be/9GXtQfXBAmM

Lately I’ve begun wondering where are today’s protest songs? Am I so old that I am unable to recognize them as such? Are there artists putting out meaningful lyrics that make young people feel the need to change the world? If you know of any, please pass the knowledge along. We need protest anthems for these interesting times.