A collection of songs, across a range of musical genres and many liberation movements, the oldest song is from the 17th century, the most recent is 11 July 2011… no deep meaning, just to entertain and inspire, mostly though, to entertain.
If I have missed any that you think should be here please let me know.
(I’m going to say, probably Not Safe For Work
Also possible that some songs may be blocked in some countries)
A 2006 pro-strike, pro-industrial action song by Pretty Girls Make Graves (PGMGs are describe by wikipedia as “Post-punk revival”, but this sounds like a pretty pop song to me)
Out of the fields and the factory lines
Tell your brother and your sister, Tell your auntie and your uncle too
Tell your mother and your father, Your friends and your cousins and we need you
We’ve walked so far, But we can walk all night
We’re marching from the shipyards, We’re marching from the hospitals
We’ll take it to the town hall, We’ll take it to the capitol
(There is no good quality version of this on youtube or vimeo, this is a link to grooveshark
Parade on grooveshark, radio)
62. Political Prisoners
This 1996 industrial rock song by Insurge (written as iNsuRge), takes about how the law is used to punish arbitrarily. Private property crimes are the state protecting the rich from the poor, and that most laws are for the same reason: “I see no criminals, I see political prisoners”. Incarceration for drug crimes are not about the health of the user, but to protect the profits of the pharmaceutical / tobacco companies for the “oligarchy of the few”
63. Reconciliation Day
South African song by Koos Kombuis, a protest song, with the lyrics “Our streets run with blood, every day a funeral procession, they steal all our goods, on Reconciliation Day.” (included to show diversity of protest songs, not just about ending apartheit or the Vietnam war, but I am happy to be corrected by someone who speaks the language, I don’t want to let my ignorance stand in the way of a songs inclusion)
64. Redemption Song
Written in 1979 by Bob Marley when he knew he was dying, this song contains lyrics which are based on a 1937 speech by Rights activist Marcus Garvey. “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because while others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.”
Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros, has a spoken word piece at the beginning, (“people can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world…”) recorded shortly before Strummers own death
“The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind”
Aretha Franklin’s 1967 demand for respect, especially for her sexuality, the repeated line by the back up singers of “Sock it to me” is about “respect for her sexual needs” (as wikipedia says, yeah, I don’t get it either: Clearly who ever edited that article never heard “Shave Em Dry” Lucille Bogan 1935, “You’ve Got To Give Me Some” Bessie Smith 1928, “I’m Wild About That Thing” Bessie Smith 1929), and if She, that Aretha sings about, didn’t get that respect, her man might come home to find her gone.
“free your mind”.
The Beatles, it might be old, but it still kicks it.
67. Roll On
The Living End: a rock song about the 1988 Australian Waterfront Dispute, when the Federal Government backed private companies against the workers “We’ll protest in peace, keep the whole thing quiet, last thing needed is a wage fuelled riot”
(Due to copyright restrictions only live versions are available)
68. Seattle Was A Riot
Punk rock song from Anti-Flag, about the civil protests in Seattle against the WTO, in 1999, sometimes called “The Battle Of Seattle” by sub-editors who like rhyming headlines, because the word “demonstration” takes up too much space
69. Settle For Nothing
A rock song released by Rage Against The Machine in 1992
If we don’t take action now
We settle for nothing later
Settle for nothing now
And we’ll settle for nothing later
Alice Cooper and Xzibit from 2004
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything…. Stand Up”
71. Straight To Hell
This 2003 acoustic cover of a Joe Strummer The Clash song. Covers a broad range of topics, the loss of working class jobs in Northern England, alienation and racism felt by immigrants, the abandonment of children left behind by USAmerican troops returning home from Vietnam war, and people becoming disconnected from each other
72. Sun City
Artists United Against Apartheid (Kool DJ Herc, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Ruben Blades, Bob Dylan, Herbie Hancock, Ringo Starr, Zak Starkey, Lou Reed, Run DMC, Peter Gabriel, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Darlene Love, Bobby Womack, Afrika Bambaataa, Kurtis Blow, Jackson Browne, Daryl Hannah, U2, George Clinton, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Bonnie Raitt, Hall & Oates, Jimmy Cliff, Big Youth, Michael Monroe, Peter Garrett, Ron Carter, Ray Barretto, Gil-Scott Heron, Nona Hendryx, Pete Townshend, Pat Benatar, Joey Ramone, Miles Davis) came together in 1985 for this protest song written by Little Steven Van Zandt, as a statement by prominent artists that they would not play in the resort of Sun City in apartheid South Africa. It celebrates a very public boycott of racism.
These songs might be old, are the fight to end apartheit is over for South Africa, but it can show how in the space of only a few years, movements can have huge impacts.
73. Sunday Bloody Sunday
By U2 in 1983, about an incident in Derry (or Londonderry depending on your politics) in 1972, when British troops killed 14 unarmed civil rights protestors and bystanders.
Although U2 has said it is more than just about the Irish and the British, it is about anywhere that people are killing each other
By UK alternative dance/grime artist M.I.A, this 2004 song has been heavily censored for various reasons, ranging from the video representing the side of the Tamils in the Sri Lanka civil war or the line “You wanna go? You wanna win a war? Like P.L.O I don’t surrender”. It is a song about the media dividing the world into bad terrorists (anyone we don’t like) and the good guys (the side you are on), and the former British PM Blair talking about violence at home, while declaring war on others.
75. Sweet Neo Con
Critical of George W Bush, USAmerica’s foreign policy of expensive wars for oil and prisons without trial. The Rolling Stones used this 2005 song to show the hypocrisy of Neo-Conservative politics, and how war is good for business.
76. Take ‘Em Down
A 2011 song by Dropkick Murphys (described as “celtic punk”) dedicated to the striking workers of Wisconsin, USA, during the long running industrial disputes in that state.
“When the boss comes calling, stand your ground”.
77. Takin’ It To The Streets
Thanks to @EileenLeft for the inspiration for this, it was her tweeting of this song that inspired this list
“Are you…telling me the things you’re gonna do for me, I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see” and what happens when you don’t like poverty’s despair and living in hell, it’s time for …
“Takin’ it to the streets (takin’ it to the streets)”
78. Talkin’ bout A Revolution
“Poor people gonna rise up, take what’s theirs” Tracy Chapman
79. Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like
Not a song, but a protest chant, led by Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, during the 2011 public union busting in Wisconsin.
80. The Revolution
From electronic artist, BT, 2001, takes Gil Scott Heron’s famous phrase that “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (below) and says that it WILL be televised, on tv screens, satellite beams and phone lines, cable modems… “The Revolution will be fought in all forms of media, and wage war by whatever means necessary”