17 August 2008

I protest the lack of protest songs!

What ever happened to protest songs?

I was doing some community activist work today, standing on the street getting people to sign a petition. In between people, I was singing "Bread and Roses" to myself to keep motivated to stand on a sunny street bothering nice people who would rather have not been bothered.

As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day, A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray, Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses, For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"

That is a song left over from the early labor movement. There were a lot of those songs and also spirituals revived for the big civil rights actions in the 60s. But are there any protest songs today? I can think of outrage songs, and pissed off songs, and social conscience songs like Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?". But are there any new-ish songs suitable for people to sing while marching for a cause?

If there aren't any, why? Have our demonstrations been ruined for singing by bullhorns? I have to investigate this. Meanwhile, for your viewing and listening pleasure, I give you Pete Seeger singing a Woody Guthrie classic. Sing along.

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