Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can Anyone Write a Protest Song?

Hello Friends,

As we move closer to the G8 and G20 summits here in Ontario - I can't help but reflect on good old fashion protest songs. History has shown that these are the times in which some of the best music is made. It brings out real emotion and ideas for bands/artists to write some of their finest stuff.

Punk music is a genre that started and revolves around the protest. It's not the only genre making their voices heard though and so over the years we've seen some powerful recordings released that reflect times and change. Here's a few beautiful tracks that come to my mind.

The Beatles - 'Revolution' - This tune reflects a transition in time for the Beatles from the trippy days of Sgt. Pepper to a more open minded band that wanted to see changes in the world. It's kind of hard to see that's what they were getting at as this particular tune conjurs up memories of Nike running shoes :(

Cat Stevens - 'Peace Train' one of the most classic anti-war tunes of all time. Title speaks for itself. Well done Yusuf.

Bob Marley - 'Redemption Song' - Lyrics reflect on a speach give by Marcus Garvey in 1937 about slavery.

Sex Pistols - 'God Save The Queen' this single was release on the day of Queen Elizebeth's silver jubilee in 1977 as a big fuck you to the British Monarchy. More . Original lyrics and song entitled 'God Save The Queen' aka the actual National Anthem for England.

Public Enemy - 'Fight the Power' released in 1989 on the soundtrack to Spike Lee's 'Do The Right Thing' this is track served as a Civil Rights protest song that touched on many monumental speaches and movements throughout history.

Sam Cooke - 'Change Gonna Come' Inspired by Bob Dylan's ability to write a protest song - Sam put pen to paper and du up all the inner battles he had been dealing with as he grew to pop stardom in a white world. This is by far one of the my favourite recordings of all time. So very powerful. Everyone needs a little Sam Cooke in their lives.

Manic Street Preachers - 'Let Robeson Sing' a tribute to Black American actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson. This chorus is killer when you see them live in concert.

The Clash - 'Rock the Casbah' this song is a look at an Arab King's ban on Rock Music (wiki page). If you don't own any Clash records/recordings - then do yourself a favour and pick-up 'The Story Of The Clash'

Billy Bragg - 'Sexuality' This track is an anti-homophobia and general sex-positive message tune that had The Smith guitarist Johnny Marr and Kirsty McColl on backing vocals. One hell of a track and very powerful lyrics.

Happy G8/20 to you and yours.

Thanks for reading/listening.

Gregg Stewart

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