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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Can you name some classic or soon-to-be classic protest songs? (Details)

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11273points) December 2nd, 2011

The Jellies have been great about answering my requests for music/songs before. I’ve gotten some great suggestions.

Now, I’m on the look for some good “protest songs”. They can be of the “we shall overcome” variety or a “peace” song (like “Imagine”) or quirky-powerful like the songs of Malvina Reynolds.

If you know of a good protest songs/CD/albums or even artists who specialize in these…please let me know. Throw in your favorites!

Thank you!

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26 Answers

flutherother's avatar

There is an amusing Irish rebel song called Johnson’s Motor Car

And here’s a nice song by Phil Ochs What are You Fighting For

Aethelflaed's avatar

Obligatory link to Wikipedia page on protest songs and anti-war songs, and link to TvTropes list.

Most of Tom Lehrer, Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy.

Flogging Molly’s new song Revolution is about the new economic crisis.

Edwin Starr’s War.

Nena’s 99 Luftballoons (or American version).

whitetigress's avatar

I’ve never knew about a pop musician as passionate about politics as John Lennon.

Power to the People

This is my favorite, it talks about putting down your countries identity and a whole world coming together, in my opinion this is the best social protest song because if you think about it, we are enslaved by our countries pride, although our country might be really great, we live in a time where we can all communicate together now, I imagine if John Lennon had a twitter, there would have been world peace a long time ago. Even businesses couldn’t stand up to John Lennon!


marinelife's avatar

Joan Baez specialized in protest songs. One of her classics is Joe Hill.

Peter, Paul & Mary performed many protest songs including Blowin’ in the Wind.

Also Joni Mitchell did many like Big Yellow Taxi.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh @marinelife , great minds.
And extra points for getting the correct title of Joni Mitchell’s song!

amujinx's avatar

I figured with all the bands I listen to that have strong social/political messages in their songs (such as Crass, Dead Kennedys, Propagandhi, etc.) I would be able to find a decent protest song. I found a few from them that I would consider close to protest songs (and Dead Kennedys Police Truck works well with the actions of the police against the Occupy movement), but none that I would consider true protest songs from any of them. The two songs I did find work well as protest songs are both by Asian Dub Foundation:

Take Back the Power

Edit: I guess really these are really more revolution songs, but since most protests are about a revolution to at least a small extent, they still work.

King_Pariah's avatar

I think Rage Against the Machine tends to fall in this category.

fundevogel's avatar

I’ll leave the war songs to the rest of you. So I’ll give you The Kingston Trio’s rallying cry against subway fare increases.


Fly's avatar

As much as I tend to oppose the Muse obsession, I happen to really like their song Uprising, which is quite obviously about rebellion, specifically about protesting Big Business. The themes in it really seem to resonate with the current “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

hopscotchy's avatar

The Dears really stand out in my mind for our time. We can all recall a protest song from the 70s but it seems that real active and productive protest now is much more collectively conscious, focused on the human condition as opposed to a “this side and that side” division. A little subdued, a little bit celebratory of the emotional deprivation in the millennium. Check these folks out… human kindness

ETpro's avatar

I lived through all this GREAT music, and had no clue what it was about. Back then, I was busy living the good life, and they weren’t coming for ME. Only when the authoritarians brought their police state to our streets did it dawn on me what this was saying.

And so, in that spirit of revaluation, my offering is Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man Something is happening here, and it had nothing to do with drugs. I think more and more are seeing that human need is greater than God Greed. I hope so, for the hour is late.

ETpro's avatar

@fundevogel And now, at $1.75 and rising, the MBTA issues cards with e-scanner, which you use in lieu of pocket change. They provide machines in the stations where you can add value to the MBTA e-scanner card with any debit or credit card. What do they call these wondrous cards? Charlie Cards, in honor of the song from the Kingston Trio.

fundevogel's avatar

@ETpro But what happened to Charlie!?

ETpro's avatar

@fundevogel He’s still riding. For 10 cents, that’s one hell of a long train ride. :-)

Coloma's avatar

The Greenday CD 21 guns great album, great!
Do you know your enemy? ;-)

Kardamom's avatar

Here’s one called Protest Song by Neil Innes. It’s really a spoof, but because Neil is such a good musician and singer (He’s the guy who, along with Eric Idle, from Monty Python, created The Rutles, a very realistic, but funny spoof of the Beatles) it comes across as a pretty good song. This song is more Dylan-esque.

fundevogel's avatar

Sloppy guys, you’re missing some obvious classics.

Fortunate Son – Creedence
There is a War – Leonard Cohen
Masters of War – Bob Dylan
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
Sympathy for the Devil – the Rolling Stones
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy – Pete Seeger
Keep on Rockin in the Free World – Neil Young (it’s weird hearing Young’s version after getting used to Pearl Jam’s)

smilingheart1's avatar

I think Bobby Darin’s “Simple Song of Freedom” was pretty expensive, written in his career tears.

ETpro's avatar

@smilingheart1 Here’s a link to it. It’s a great piece of music.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was away from the boards for a bit, so didn’t respond right away…amazing choices, some I have never heard, some I have…..just wonderful contributions…I will be listening to as many as possible (probably after the palaver of the holidays).

I really DO appreciate the time you took to look up links and post…and it also leaves a wonderful archive for others to also peruse….

In deepest gratitude to all!

lurve coming….to you…....

And from the Queen…I thought of this song today…a bit of a protest/love song…in this season of (at times) chaos….one of the most beautiful renditions I’ve heard from her…


ETpro's avatar

Glad to be able to help.

fundevogel's avatar

I stumbled across one I’d forgotten existed, I Ain’t Marching Any More.

ETpro's avatar

Here’s a banned song from Bruce Springsteen that’s current.

Seafaery's avatar

I think this one might become a classic—

ETpro's avatar

@Seafaery That’s a great song, and so current, so truthful. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve bookmarked it and will share it.

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