Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ten Most Effective American Protest Songs

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2011 at 7:52 AM

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4. System of a Down, "Boom!" Originally released on the band's 2002 album Steal This Album!, the song protested the disparity in funds spent on war when so little went to poverty relief. A few months later, it fit the antiwar sentiments that many felt weren't being broadcast in the lead-up to the Iraq War. The video was directed by Michael Moore at worldwide protests on February 15, 2003. The group released the video on March 19 -- the day American forces invaded Iraq.

3. Woody Guthrie, "This Land is Your Land" Remember that sweet folk tune you sang in elementary school music class about this land being made for your and me? Guthrie wrote it because, in 1940, he was sick of hearing "God Bless America," which he felt was unrealistic after the suffering of the Great Depression. The original included two verses that your elementary music teacher probably didn't teach you, because they endorsed trespassing and the Commie idea of not letting a few people own everything.

2. Bob Dylan, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" The most noted writer of American protest songs, Dylan didn't set out to protest through his music; he wrote about events and stories that touched him, which often coincided with issues like the civil-rights and antiwar movements. Case in point: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," the true story of a black barmaid murdered buy a rich tobacco farmer who only served six months in county jail for the killing. Dylan shunned the system, not wanting to be associated with any political side or movement.

1. Nina Simone, "Mississippi Goddamn" Spurred by the murder of Medgar Evers and the bombing of a church in Alabama that killed four little girls, Simone penned her first protest song, railing on people who asked for patience in civil rights changes while others died. Not surprisingly, the song was banned in many of the states it was aimed at, ostensibly because of the word "goddamn." Riiiiight.

Before it was all said and done, Simone performed the song at Carnegie Hall in 1964 during a recording of a live album, and at the end of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, where she crossed police lines along with James Baldwin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Harry Belafonte.

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