protest songs

The first song is “Masters of War”, written by Bob Dylan at 1962. The second song is “Let’s Impeach the President” written by Neil Young. Both of the songs are shared the idea of anti-war. However, the first song is to describe what war matters did. The war matters did nothing good for our society. They killed people, destroyed people house, and created fear to the next generation. In the end, Dylan starts to ask war masters that “Is your money that good will it buy you forgiveness” and also show how people feeling of wars and war masters. In contrast, the second song is to blame on the president Bush who started war on Afghanistan and Iraq which cause people lose their money and privacy. Young also blame Bush that he did not solves the problem of Katrina hurricane on New Orleans and his second term.


Different times, different causes


In the first song, “People Got to Be Free” by The Rascals tries to convince listeners that everyone should be free. Through out the entire song, the Rascals explains it very simple and natural for everyone to see. Everyone is the same and everyone should be free. The group refers to civil rights movement in the 1960s in their last verse when they mention the “Train of Freedom” that is coming and has been long over due. The second song, “Living with War” by Neil Young refers to the need for peace and the protest against war. Although Neil Young does not explicitly mention which war he is singing about, he is referring to the Iraq War. “I take a holy vow, to never kill again.” He tries to convince listeners to there is no need to fight. In the song he says he lives with war everyday and killing will only mean more people dying on both sides.

Since the 1960s, many protest songs have been geared towards event that happen in their current time. In Neil Young’s song, he sings about the war taking place in 2006, the Iraq War. In The Rascals’ song, they were singing about the need to be free and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Both songs are fairly general songs as they can be applied to the protest against war and the call for peace and freedom. Neither of the songs explicitly reveal details of a specific event that has happened.


“Don’t matter what color, all that matters we gathered together”


The first video is a song originally written by Bob Dylan in the 60’s. It is a song questioning the way things are. For example, the line ‘Yes, how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free ?’ is a question based on civil rights for blacks.The second video is Mosh by Eminem and it was released in 2004. Eminem in this song was trying to encourage people to go out and vote. He wanted to encourage people to try to change and challenge the politicians ( Example: Bush ) that were taking advantage of them. Mosh had more anger being shown than Blowing in the Wind. Mosh is more aggressive.


“Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” and “World Wide Suicide”


With the lyrics composed in 1956, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” was a very influential song during the black civil rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s. It was one of the protesters favorite song during their organized walk outs. Although the lyrics of the song is rather subtle, since it did not refer to any specific events or movements, the intention of the song was, nevertheless, apparent to the singers and listeners. The melody and the repetition of “eyes on the prize” were very effective in reminding the protesters to continue to pursuit their ultimate goals.

Pearl Jam’s “World Wide Suicide” (2006), on the other hand, is a song that was written to express the population’s anger toward the Iraq War. In contrast to the subtle “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “World Wide Suicide” is a little more explicit in the message. There were many key words, such as “war,” “man-made hell,” and “President writes a check, while others pay” that were apparent to the audiences during war time. Moreover, compare to “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize,” “World Wide Suicide” is more of a song of complaint than a song of encouragement for the protesters.


War is good for nothing~

The first song I chose is called War by Edwin Starr which is a protest song about the Vietnam War, and this song came out around the 1960’s. In the song War their is a famous line “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’!” which basically meant that war is pointless. If you look at the lyrics of this song it talks about how war causes so much destruction and pain to everyone. The second song I chose is called Boom! by System of a Down which is a protest song about war and militarism. In Boom!’s lyrics it talks about why do we have to waste money on build bombs and other things to kill out own kind.

In the song War their is a couple of the lyrics that stood out to me “Ohhh, war, I despise, Because it means destruction, Of innocent lives”, “War means tears, To thousands of mothers eyes, When their sons go to fight, And lose their lives” these lyrics shows how bad war is causing pain to everyone.  Even though these two songs talk about war they differ in a way. In Boom! the lyrics aren’t entirely about war its more about how we spent so much money on build weapons instead of using that money to save lives. Some examples are “Unnecessary deaths, Nobody gives a fuck, 4000 hungry children leave us per hour, from starvation, while billions spent on bombs, creating death showers” the song is still about how war is unnecessary but it is more about how we waste our money.


Protest With Music

I selected two very moving protest songs of the past 100 years. The first song I chose was “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” by Bob Dylan (1964). The version that I posted is a cover, as I was not able to find the original version on YouTube. The second song I selected was “The General,” by The Dispatch (2000). “Only a Pawn in Their Game” is a song about the racist nature of the world during the 20th century. It specifically mentions the assassination of the civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Dylan goes on to mention how although many people preformed terrible deeds, usually due to racism, it was not solely their fault. It was the fault of society, and he says that each person in only “a pawn in their game.” “The General” is an anti-war song about a general who claims that it “is not worth fighting.” The entire song the general is telling his soldiers to go home, and enjoy their lives. The message is that we should avoid war, because we are taking away people’s lives.

In general, protest songs have not really changed over the years. The bottom line is that they are supposed to convey a message to the public and create a change. However, today I think these songs are more direct and crude, as opposed to being more subtle 50 years ago. Today there are also new genres, such as hip-hop, which have produced certain protest songs as well. Besides those few changed there are not many distinct differences in protest songs over the years. The two songs I chose could have been written anytime over the past 50 years, and they would fit in to any time period. Social protests did not change much, as a whole. Like protest songs, they simply just became more outright and uncut. People are not afraid to say or do anything these days.


Where Is The Love?

The two songs I chose are “Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon and “Where Is The Love?” by Black Eyed Peas. The first song “Give Peace A Chance”, was released in 1969. John Lennon repeats “All we are saying is give peace a chance” in the chorus part multiple times. This song soon became the anthem of the anti-war movement during the height of the Vietnam War. Millions of protesters in Washington D.C repeated the chorus, singing the famous lines of John Lennon’s song at the Vietnam Moratorium Day on October 15, 1969.The Black Eyed Peas released the single “Where Is the Love?” in 2003, two years after the attack of 9/11/01. This song covers issues that we are facing in society and as a nation. Issues that are coved in the song are terrorism, war, racism, discrimination, government hypocrisy, greed, juvenile crime and the invasion of Iraq.


I’m Black & I’m Proud….Rule


James Brown’s song “I’m black and I’m proud” as well as Nas’s song “Rule” are both songs of protests in their time. They expressed their feelings through their lyrics directly referring to the problem at hand and making sure everyone knows it.

“I’m Black and Im proud” is noted as one of the most notorious black power anthems to be recorded. The prejudices towards African Americans were addressed and the need for empowerment. He uses powerful lyrics to portray his emotions towards the country and for his people: “we demands a chance to do thangs for ourself/we’re tired of beating our head against the wall/and workin’ for someone else” and “We’ve been ‘buked and we’ve been scorned/We’ve been treated bad, talked about as sure as you’re born”.Nas’ song’s lyrics are political, inspiration and reminiscent of those on Nas’ 1996 single “If I rule the world (Imagine that)”.

Back in the day, protests were powerful. If the people felt something was wrong with the system and wanted something done, they took action. Whether it was through marches, boycotts, songs, movies, the people expressed how they were feeling. These days I feel that society has gotten scared. Nobody wants to speak up for the injustices done and artists are able to do so. Many artists use songs to write about things going on in the world today, But other than that I dont feel like we do enough.


Assignment due 5/2

Write a post that includes 2 videos (or a link to video/audio).  One should show a protest song produced between 1960 and 1970.  The other should be a protest song produced between 2000 and 2011.  Both songs should be new to the blog.  Write 1-2 paragraphs comparing and contrasting the two songs.  Explain what is being protested in each song and what terms are used to express protest.  What has changed about social protest between the 1960s and the 2000s, and how specifically do these songs show that change?


Women wanted!

In 1960s, feminism in USA and around the world starts to gain momentum.  At that time, typical women are viewed as housewives.  In the public perspective, commercials often depicts women being helpless if her car broke down.  The roles of women at home and public creates gender difference and inequality in society.  Such difference limited women’s opportunity to advance in their economic and political life.

The feminist reform started with more women attending college to obtain law degree and pursue political life.  Through political reform, and the assistance of law, feminist gained equal opportunity in many fields.



Student’s Against Vietnam

During the 1960’s there was an increasing rise of students in America going to college. With that, students became more focused in other areas of society such as politics. They created the “New Left” which they wanted to make America a true democracy. They questioned and compared the drastic differences between American ideals and America’s reality. As a result, they became actively involved and protested against the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War started in the 1950’s in which America feared Vietnam would fall into the domino effect and fall into communism. Vietnam was separated between the communistic North and  democratic South. Although America slowly regretted entering into this war, Johnson and Kennedy feared they would not be forgiven for “losing” Vietnam. This led to students strongly protesting against the war and demanding a recall of U.S. involvement on the war.  Ultimately, U.S. lost the war in Vietnam.


Problem with No Name: Solution NOW

The video above is about Betty Friedan who led the second wave of Women’s liberation in the 1960s. Gaining huge popularity with her book The Feminine Mystique in 1963, she later goes on to become one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. Although many of the movements only date back to the day of the Women’s Strike for Equality on August 26, 1970, and forward, the resulting success is commenced from the progress of all the women’s effort before this.

Women’s liberation rooted back to the 1950s because the ideology of subordination of male dominance derived from the social change of increasing women in the work force. The advanced developments of new appliances during that time, such as washers and vacuum cleaners, lessen the work for women, which in turn, created more time for them to work. The gender roles of the 1950s differ greatly from the past comparing to their grandmothers and mothers before her; women were now paid working women as well as full-time housewife.


Post War Economy: 1950-1960

Many Americans feared that the end of World War II and the subsequent drop in military spending might bring back the hard times of the Great Depression. But instead, pent-up consumer demand fueled exceptionally strong economic growth in the post war period. The automobile industry successfully converted back to producing cars, and new industries such as aviation and electronics grew by leaps and bounds. A housing boom, stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning members of the military, added to the expansion. The nation’s gross national product rose from about $200,000 million in 1940 to $300,000 million in 1950 and to more than $500,000 million in 1960. At the same time, the jump in postwar births, known as the “baby boom,” increased the number of consumers. More and more Americans joined the middle class.


Violent Outbreak of the 60s

Injustice and racial equality still existed in the sixties. Many political activism and social changes were made before this time, but America was not free of prejudice (some argue that it still isn’t  today) . The violent outbreak of The Watts in 1965 shown the frustration of racial change during the sixties in Los Angeles. This event marked an uprising violence of black ghettos in the nation. An estimated 50,000 people took part in  attacking police and fireman and burning buildings. 15,000 police were involved to restore order, 900 were injured, 35 people dead, and $30 million worth of property were damaged.  Violence also outbreak in Harlem and Detroit causing some theorists to say that the country was in danger of being torn apart by racial antagonism.


The Urge For Civil Rights Continues

High pressure hose used against protesters in Birmingham, AlabamaDuring the 1960’s, there was a firm desire for  gaining equal rights for African Americans. This desire was sparked by the movements made in the 1950’s where many civil rights activist were able to abolish many forms of segregation such as in public schools in the case of Brown V. The Board of Education and public transportationin the case of the The Montgomery bus boycott. Although progress was made on equal rights during the 1950s, not much has changed in society seeing as segregation still existed in bussiness and there were still only a handfull of Colored students enrolled in previously all-white schools.

 The forms of protest performed by activists were mainly passive. Even while facing the harsh riots of Birmingham, Alabama, Colored students marched in the streets while being assulted by the local athorities. The atrosities commited in the Birmingham incident were broadcasted and raised awareness of the brutal actions taken towards protesters. After the Birmingham incident became publicaly known, actions were taken to quell the riots and established desegregation in the local bussiness.


Spring 1963


The climax of the modern civil rights movement occurred in Birmingham. The city’s violent response to the spring 1963 demonstrations against white supremacy forced the federal government to intervene on behalf of race reform.The public outcry provoked President John F. Kennedy to propose civil rights legislation that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act opened America’s social, economic, and political system to African Americans demonstrators Attackedand other minorities, including women, the handicapped, and gays and lesbians. The legislation addressed the principal goal of the movement of gaining access to the system as consumers but also set in motion strategies to gain equality through affirmative action policies.

Birmingham was a major centre of civil rights activities and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was an organisational centre for the movement. In particular, youths used the church as a centre to help plan out strategies to get more black high school children involved in the civil rights cause. In the Spring of 1963, stores in downtown Birmingham had been desegregated and just days before the bombing, schools in Birmingham had been ordered by a federal court to integrate – nearly ten years after Brown v Topeka. Many Klansmen would not accept this decision nor the successes the civil rights cause seemed to be making.

The chief of police in the city, Bull Connor, was very anti-civil rights and had ordered that police dogs and fire hoses be used on civil rights demonstrators in May 1963.

Birmingham was also a stronghold of the KKK. The influence of the KKK was such that children’s books that showed black and white rabbits together were banned from sale in book shops in the city. Segregation was the norm in the city. Violence against the black community in Birmingham was not unusual but the deliberate bombing of a church took that violence to a new level.


The rise of the students in politics

During the 1950 college students and young people were largely not involved in politics, they were called a “silent generation”. Colleges and universities had been very conservative institutions with wealthy people attending them. That changed in 1960. By 1968 students became one huge sector of the population, due to the generation of the baby-boomers, with over 7 million attending colleges. These people, even though raised in affluence, were discontent with existing social mainstream, created by their parents, as it did not provide for authenticity, which they viewed as a crucial element of personal freedom. Thus the children of middle class became part of what came to be called the New Left. They called for democracy and equality for everyone, using rhetoric based on discontent with the “establishment” which generates things like loneliness, isolation, alienation, powerlessness, unification. Their main inspiration was the black freedom movement which intensified in 50s.
The above processes that came about within the growing population of students led to the emergence of organisations like SDS, the phenomena of the counter-culture of the sixties and laid the foundation of the left political ideas for decades to come.

SDSers gather outside the Smithsonian in Washington (Photo: Thomas Good)



On politically important event in the 1960’s was the attempt to “remove” Fidel Castro from power in Cuba.  The Bay of Pigs invasion was a covert mission launched by the US government in April of 1961 under the Kennedy administration.  Its purpose was to insert 1400 CIA trained Cuban operatives into southern Cuba into a location known as the Bay of Pigs.  They would then make their way northward to Castro’s capitol in Havana. The operatives’ mission was to carry out the program nicknamed “Operation PLUTO”. OP PLUTO called for the replacement of the Castro regime, with one that was more focused on the true interests of the Cuban people; and one that is more acceptable to the US.  It was also paramount that it did not appear that the US had any involvement in this issue.  The method of removal covered all bases including assassination.  This was just the beginning of the troubles that the US had with Cuba under JFK, later to come was the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis.  It was a time of tension and fear, with the realization that the US could be the target of Nuclear Weapons, and with Cuba being only 90 miles south of Florida, the missiles could reach every location in the continental US.



Threat of Nuclear War


The fear of a nuclear war existed in the world under JFK’s presidency in the United States. However he was also the reason the world was saved from such a threat. Both the United States and Cuba were ready to use nuclear weapons in battlefield. The arms race exaggerated the access of the nuclear weapons both in the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Khruschev’s plan to place missiles in Cuba, directing at the U.S. initiated circumstances that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. What seems to have relieved the conflict from both sides was the constant communication between the two countries. The back and forth dialogue between Khrushchev and Kennedy via letters, helped to come to an agreement to dismantle nuclear weapons in Cuba and bring them back to the Soviet Union if the U.S. promised to not invade Cuba. Later it was also suggested by Khrushchev that the U.S. also dismantle their missiles in Turkey.


Freedom and Equality for the Least-Advantaged

Soon after assuming office in 1963, Johnson resurrected the phrase “freedom from want”, all but forgotten during the 1950s. Recognizing that black poverty was fundamentally different from the white one, since its roots lay in “past injustice and present prejudice”, he wanted to redefine the relationship between freedom and equality. He insisted that “we seek not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result”. The powers of the national government were mobilized to address the needs of the least-advantaged Americans, especially those, like blacks, largely excluded from the New Deal entitlements, such as Social Security. Coupled with the decade’s high rate of economic growth, the War on Poverty succeeded in reducing the incidence of poverty from 22% to 13% of American families during the 1960s.