This is my world and I am the World Leader Pretend
This is my life and this is my time
I have been given the freedom to do as I see fit
It’s high time I raised the walls that I’ve constructed
R.E.M released “Green” in 1988. The recording is in my library, and I was reminded of this song when casting about for protest music.
Give it back Midnight Oil. Diesel and Dust. A favorite album.
How do you sleep when the world is turning?
All that we built has come undone
How do you sleep when the world is burning?
Everyone answers to someone.
A brand new Barbara Streisand song is a lament.
Then, there’s an older song of defiance.
Symbols and words have impacts far beyond their original intent. Just look up a meme sometime. That says it a bunch about symbols.
Some folks argue that this song takes the word “chain” and puts it in the context of command in the Vietnam War. Hmmm. Listening in that context, it makes a kind of sense.
Couched in songs such as these and “Respect” is a quiet activism that could be considered protest.
And, while I’m swimming in Franklin’s sounds, I have to include a link to one of the most soulful presentations of all time, even though it’s not a protest song, I think.
The Resistance Revival Chorus performs the song composed by Anne Feeney for The Women’s March. An a cappella protest can be effective. It just takes voices.
Mark Knopfler added his signature guitar sound to Phil Lynott’s song, adding a swing to a poetic protest:
The statue of liberty
Has engraved on it’s wall
Give me your poor, give me your needy Give me them all
We need something like this
For this world to coexist
I can always count on Moby for a sly take.
A sharp reflection caught my eye.
Wheeling to a stop and
Looking close, a piece
Of a child’s motionless, glittery toy
Lured a look.
Nearby, a stinkbug crawled
And skittered from that bright spot
Near my planted foot
To anonymity again.
Call me old-fashioned, or whatever term you want for someone who’s hopelessly in love with rock-and-roll, but there’s nothing like a live rendition of Neil Young’s classic push-back against societal ills.
Some will argue that rock and roll is a societal ill. Perhaps, but I’d toss this performance in 2009 into the mix for consideration.
Gutsy-voiced Tom Waits gets seriously in protest mode late in this 2004 tune. His voice perfectly captures the thoughts of a 21-year-old soldier longing for home.