“There is the idea that a pop star has no right to voice their opinion.
But I was a person before I was a pop star,
and I’m due my opinion as much as anyone.”
– Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)
For as long as there have been wars and civil injustices, there are have been artists giving voice to the powerless. Protest songs have been a well-documented and crucial part of our social dialogue and cultural fabric since as far back as the 1381 English Peasant Revolt. Since then, protest songs have taken many forms: Irish Rebel Songs, Algerian Rai, field hollers, Anti-apartheid anthems, Vietnam folk and rock music, 1960s civil rights ballads and Post-9/11 laments, to name a few. Even today, we have artists such as Pete Seeger, Tom Morello, Michael Franti, Jay-Z, Kayne West and Jeff Mangum visiting Occupy Wall Street sites across the country.
But protest songs have an inconsistent history. Some have been effective agents for change. Others have been labeled propaganda, fascist/socialists/hippie tripe, utopian or a reason for treason. Some have incited violence and hatred (Dixie Chicks, anyone?). And many others – well well-intentioned – have just been bad music.
It’s our semiannual Social Justice Awareness Week (SJAW) here again at KUST, and Great River Radio will be taking a listen to protest songs throughout history. What makes an effective protest song? Can a song be a protest song without deliberately saying as much? We’ll look into this when we play protest songs from some of our favorite artists (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Waits Arcade Fire, R.E.M., Bruce Cockburn, Jeff Mangum, Tom Morello, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, U2, Bright Eyes, The Staple Singers and Steve Earle). We’ll also play a few songs that might surprise you as protest songs. And finally, we’ll have a candid discussion about the current state of protest songs.
Please join us today from 4:15-5:45 p.m. for another informative and entertaining SJAW show from Great River Radio.
Brian and Dan
This Land Is Your Land- Pete Seeger, Doc Watson, Sweet Honey In The Rock
How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Time and Live-Bruce Springsteen
Ohio-Crosby Stills Nash & Young
Let’s Impeach The President-Neil Young
When The President Talks To God-Bright Eyes
If I Had A Rocket Launcher-Bruce Cockburn
Talkin’ Bout A Revolution-Tracy Chapman
Sunday Bloody Sunday-U2
Masters of War-The Staples Singers
Rich Man’s War-Steve Earle
Day After Tomorrow-Tom Waits
We Are The Many-Makana
Suburban War-Arcade Fire
Yell Fire!-Michael Franti & Spearhead
We Stand As One-Joseph Arthur