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)
Rebel Diaz: Music is resistance, it is the voice of the poor
1. Unity Of Oppression
many, many brilliant Consolidated tracks to choose from, but this alternative dance/industrial spoken word style piece, from the 1991 album, Friendly Fa$cism, talks about the unity of oppression – Speciesism = Racism = Classism = Sexism = Capitalism = All-isms, and shows that it can’t be compartmentalise oppression, because it all comes from the same place
2. 99 Luftballons
The 80s German pop song (in the original German) by Nena is an anti-nuclear war and cold war military paranoia protest, back when the world believed they were 4 minutes to Midnight on the nuclear (“nuke-u-lar”) clock.
3. 16 Military Wives
This 2005 indie folk rock song from The Decemberists is an anti-Iraq war protest song, not just about USA Foreign policy, but also the media treating war as entertainment for the masses.
David Bowies’ 1973 song, was influence by Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, when people outsource their thinking to Big Brother who will “split your pretty cranium and fill it full air”.
Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.~Howard Zinn
5. A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke wrote this in 1963, and explimified why people continued to struggle, in their fight for civil rights in the 60s in the United States, when you want to give up, and the fight seems to huge for one person to make a difference . . . .
“It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will”
6. Ain’t Done Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called A Red
Faith Petric and Mark Ross. From Rebel Voices: Songs of the Industrial Workers of the World.
In the style of 60s rebel songs – one woman and her guitar and a crowd sing-along, and the ability to be sung or chanted by others can give a protest song its power.
“well I kept on agitatin’, cause what else can you do? you gonna let the sons of bitches walk all over you”.
7. All She Wants To Do Is Dance
During the Greed-Is-Good 80s, Don Henley wrote this 1984 song, critical of the US Government involvement in the Nicaragua-Contra Rebel scandal, when the CIA and NSA were selling arms for drugs to fund one side over the other, meanwhile, the party girls in US, all they want to do is dance and drink molotov cocktails.
8. All You Fascists Are Bound To Lose
Originally written in the early 40s, by Woody Guthrie, this 1997 version is by Billy Bragg: “I’m gonna tell all you fascists you may be surprised, The people in this world are getting organised, You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose”.
9. Another Brick In The Wall
Beloved of school children, this protest against schools, books, teachers and “thought control” by Pink Floyd in 1979, has been adopted by peace protesters on both sides of the Israel / Palestine conflict, with the slightly changed lyrics of “We don’t need no occupation. We don’t need no racist wall”
10. “B” Movie
Gil Scott-Heron in 1981 talking about life in America under a B-movie actor for a president, and how politics has become show business
The Clash, singing that sometimes life in prison for bankrobbing, but “never hurt nobody” isn’t as bad as a lifetime as a wage slave in a factory – “A lifetime serving one machine, Is ten times worse than prison”.
12. Ballad of John Henry’s Hammer
There were many versions of this song, but this is the Johnny Cash version (the video clip shows what steel driving is). John Henry was a folk hero of USAmerican labourers, and in the Ballard is worked to death in a battle against machines.
13. Bloodsport For All
Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, early 90s UK indie rock that attacked the racism, abuse and bullying in the army, (and not animal rights), released at the start of the first Gulf War and banned by the BBC
14. Bloody Revolutions
1980 song from UK anarcho-punk bank Crass
“Well, freedom has no value if violence is the price
Don’t want your revolution, I want anarchy and peace”
15. Blowing In The Wind
Written by Bob Dylan in 1963, this song was a protest about war, ignorance, peace and freedom, and was a favourite during the struggle for civil rights in the USA during the 60s. Songs like this which were chanted during the Vietnam War protests, were dusted off during the Iraq war protests, which suggests that the themes of war, peace, and protest for social change haven’t changed in 40 years, it may also suggest that its time for more new songs. This version is Joan Baez from 1976
16. Burn Hollywood Burn
Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane 1989’s Burn Hollywood Burn, While I would never advocate burning a city to the ground, certainly not an entire city, as an act of protest (an insect might get injured), I do agree with the idea of not supporting something, in this case, refusing to pay to see Hollywood movies due to the use of stereotypes. Sometimes economic boycotts are the only thing that big corporations will listen to
17. By The Time I Get To Arizona
Public Enemy’s 1991 response to Arizona and New Hampshire refusing to honour Martin Luther King’s birthday
18. California Über Alles
Originally by the Dead Kennedys, this version is The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy 1992, is about increasing repression from politicians, and envisions a fascist future for California, with references to Germany under Nazis and George Orwell’s 1984
(The Dead Kennedys California Über Alles and Gil Scott-Heron’sThe Revolution Will Not Be Televised (included below under
T) two well known protest-awareness songs, mashed up into Revolution Über Alles)
DLT and Che Fu
Anti nuclear testing in the Pacific by the French “a picture of me in the dictionary under French fry” and breaking the chains of life in the city, all of which is just another day in the life of a New Zealander
20. Come Out Ye Black And Tans
An Irish rebel song from the 1920s in their fight to end the British colonial oppression of their country “Come out you black and tans! Come out and fight me like a man! Show your wife how …the IRA made you run like hell away”. This version by the Wolfe Tones.