Something to listen to -Protest Songs… :)

Buffy Sainte-Marie composed this and featured it on her debut album in 1964. The soldier in question represents every warrior throughout history, at different ages, from different religions, political beliefs and countries. The message is that he should take personal responsibility for his actions, instead of automatically responding to orders. If there were no soldiers, doing the leaders’ bidding, the wars would cease. The buck stops here. British singer-songwriter Donovan had a hit with the song in 1965.


This song stirred the blood when Phil Ochs performed it at anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights rallies. His song is from the point of view of a soldier as he is called on to fight through America’s history, culminating in the atomic bomb attack on Japan.


Protest Songs

We all know that “every action has an equal or greater reaction”, and as we take a look back at the past we see that anything significant enough to be spoken about 20, 30, 50, or even over 100 years later was more than likely a reaction that clearly stems either directly from a particular act or event.

The 1960s and 1970s are widely considered to be some of the most turbulent and radical times in history, so it should come as no surprise that the arts (music in particular) would reflect that. Wikipedia labels some particular eras of protest music under the following categories:

  1. 1940s- 1950s; The labor movement vs McCarthyism; Anti-Nuclear songs
  2. The 1960s: The Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and Peace and Revolution
  3. 1970s: The Vietnam War, Soul Music
  4. In the Twenty-First Century: The Iraq War and the Revival of the Protest Song

I think that  we should consider those basic differences but more importantly the fact that, like we spoke about in class, today it seems like the message needs to be much more blunt to be noticed as ‘radical’ in any way. I’m posting here a song from 2001 called “In All Rwanda’s Glory” by Rx Bandits – if you listen to the lyrics, its very clear that the author is frustrated with the government’s response to human rights issues and is referencing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

To contrast that song’s clear message, I’m also linking Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in The USA”. The song was released in 1984, but I think it takes on more of a 1970’s message in that it was written in response to the Vietnam war, but contrary to popular belief it isn’t the patriotic song that people think it is, it’s actually  a song depicting the horrors that were faced by returning vets.


-C. Salama




Protest Song

Masters of War by Bob Dylan
Dispear – Nas

These two songs protest the current situations in America. The first one is a protest on the war on vietnam. Bob Dylan Goes as far as to comparing America to Judas saying that America is decieving the people. He says that america is doing this by fighting a war that is unwinnable and saying they are trying to obtain a goal of peace. He is saying that with all of the weaponry all america has done is destroy and no matter what they do they would not be able to gain forgiveness for these places they ravaged.

In the second Song Dispear by Nas & damien Marley he attacks all of america’s history to present day in its economic focus. He compares them now to the slave master relationship. “the master, the masses, one has power the other one lacks it guns are power controlled by assets owned by financial forecasters. whos the masters their the gangstas their tha bankers the ones who tax us, the masses they are us the people the sheep divided in classes.” This line represents what he basically says about the situation.


The answer is Blowin’ in the Wind


The first song Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan questions the issues about peace, war and freedom. During the time, it’s been described as an anthem of the 1960s civil rights movement. The second song Makeshift patriot by Sage Francis is about America’s response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. The song talks about how people uses the media to exploit this tragedy for personal gain. In the song, Sage Francis states, “There is a new price on freedom, so buy into it while supplies last.”

In June 1962, Bob Dylans makes a comment saying, “Too many of these hip people are telling me where the answer is but oh I won’t believe that. I still say it’s in the wind and just like a restless piece of paper it’s got to come down some  …But the only trouble is that no one picks up the answer when it comes down so not too many people get to see and know …and then it flies away I still say that some of the biggest criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and know it’s wrong.” He believes that the answer is in the wind but no one is looking. The second song by Sage Francis reinforces this notion with his lyrics, “Some of them dug for answers in the mess but the rest were looking for trouble.”


Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

The song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland is a song that really embodies the spirit of freedom in the 60′s. It is a song about a girl who is wearing an extremely revealing bikini but is afraid to show it off in public. As soon as she puts it on she gets self-conscious about how revealing it is, and has trouble leaving the locker room; once she manages to do that, she is afraid to take off her towel on the beach; and once she does that, she is afraid to come out of the water, despite the fact she’s turning blue from cold. People at the time may have thought one of two things; “she ought to be ashamed, she’s wearing an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini!” or “this girl is way too traditional; get with the times, lady!”

This song shows that women in the sixties had the freedom to prance about much more scantily clad than they once did. This was a smaller component of a much more general freedom that women now had to really put themselves out there and express themselves sexually. However, the fact that this woman shows some restraint or embarrassment makes us wonder whether women ought to be embarrassed about the fact that this change is occurring. I think this song is really meant to tease this young woman for being so shy, and maybe more generally all women who are not able to conform to the new standards of dress. It is a direct result of all the new sexual freedom of the 60′s, and a result of the male fascination with these changes.

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini-Song Writer Paul Vance its shows different women,who not afraid to take out their dress,they even want to show their beautiful body. In this song only words saying about women who is shine,but the video shows that women really like to be only on swimming suet and they like how guys looked at them.


War protest songs


The song “Feel-like-I’m-Fixin-To-Die” was written by Joe McDonald and originally performed by Country Joe & The Fish in 1967. It was a specfic anti-war protest song about the Vietnam war. McDonald used “What are we fighting for?” to indicate the Vietnam war was totally unnecessary and he also used the word” we’re all gonna die” to show the war was a disappointment and hopelessness.


The second song is “21 Guns” by Green Day. It was released in 2009. The song shares the same idea which is anti war. It does not mention what specfic war is and I think it fights for general peace. Some of examples like ” Do you know what’s worth fighting for?”, “Lay down your arms, give up the fight” and ” Throw up your arms into the sky, you and I”, are showing the idea of the song.

War is always exist in the history, even today. I think the protest songs in the past are mainly focused on a specfic issue, like the first song about Vietnam war; but today war protest songs are more general.


Protest Songs of the Times CCR: Fortunate Son & Green Day: American Idiot


In 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival, better known as CCR, released the song “Fortunate Son”.  Fortunate Son became known and embraced as an anthem to protest the war in Vietnam.  Its main message was that American men were forced to go to war in Vietnam against their will, due to the reinstatement of the Military Draft.  There were some instances of high powered government officials who allegedly got their sons draft numbers not called, sparing their child’s life and sending another person in his place.  This is shown by the lyrics “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no …It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son,It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no”.  The draft is portrayed as an inevitable and horrendous event that can’t be avoided unless you have power or influence in government. America embraced the song because it was saying what everyone was thinking, the fear of unjust death. The moment a boy became a soldier and was sent off to war is captured by the lyrics “And when the band plays “Hail to the chief”, Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord”.  Once the president called you into service, you were soon to be sent to the battlefield, it was essentially a death notice.


In 2004 the band Green Day released the song “American Idiot” and it instantly catapulted them into the stratosphere and made them one of the world’s most prominent rock bands.  American idiot is a song that brings light to the fact that the media controls what Americans know about the world events, whether it is true or not.  The lyrics: “Don’t want a nation that doesn’t know media; And can you hear the sound of hysteria?; The subliminal mind f— America” are meant to encourage Americans to break the trend of listening to what they are told, and instead ask questions and investigate what they have been told.  The lyrics: “I’m not a part of a redneck agenda; Now everybody do the propaganda; And sing along in the age of paranoia”, poke fun at the former Republican President George W. Bush (him being the redneck with an agenda).  This song was so popular in its time that President Bush actually banned it for a while, claiming that it was a threat to national security due to it Anti-American tone.  This was proving the power of his propaganda in removing kinks in his armor, and the fact that that time was a time of terror, war and death certainly added to the country’s feeling of paranoia. Green day also sarcastically says: “Welcome to a new kind of tension. All across the alien nation”.  This is easily interpreted as the heightened terror alerts that were put in place across all the major cities is “the alien nation”, easily interpreted as the USA.  Green Day pretty much nailed the physical, emotional, and mental feelings of an entire nation in their hit song.



War Protests 1960-2011

Fortunate Son: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Merle Haggard: That’s the News


In the first song by CCR they are pprotesting the draft during the Vietnam War.  Specifically the fact that those young men being drafted tended to be poor/middle class and politically unconnected while those from the upper class were able to avoid service.  The song by Merle Haggard, while also about war, is about how while the government has declared the war in Iraq “over” there are still soldiers fighting and dying.

While both are about war and also address the duplicity of those in power (not sending their sons to Vietnam, and declaring the war over when it is not) the biggest difference is their focus.  CCR in their song were acting as “The Media” getting the word out to the people.  In the Merel Haggard song his focus is addressing the media and its part in getting information / misinformation to the people.  This shift in focus in protest songs I feel is a product of our 24/7 news cycle and people’s total acceptance of what they see there.


Protest Songs

i aint marching anymore

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american idiot

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I ain’t marching anymore by Phil Ochs stirred the blood when Phil Ochs performed it at anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights rallies. His song is from the point of view of a soldier as he is called on to fight through America’s history, culminating in the atomic bomb attack on Japan.  It became a signature song for Ochs and was at its most powerful at the infamous Chicago Democratic National Convention in 1968 when members of the crowd burnt their draft cards during his performance. Green Day’s American Idiot was released on September 2004, it criticizes the current American foreign policy and the ex president Bush. As we can see that from the old days to now, protest songs are covering even a wider aspects. In the 1960s most of the protest songs were about anti war or human rights, however now, artists more write songs to protest the mess media and politics.


Protest Songs


“Draft Dodger Rag” is a satirical anti-war song by Phil Ochs, a U.S. protest singer from the 1960s known for being a harsh critic of the American military industrial complex. Released in 1965, “Draft Dodger Rag” quickly became an anthem of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Ochs wrote “Draft Dodger Rag” as American involvement in the Vietnam War was beginning to grow. The song is sung from the perspective of a gung-ho young man who has been drafted. When he reports for duty, however, the young man recites a list of reasons why he can’t serve, including poor vision, flat feet, a ruptured spleen, allergies and asthma, back pain, addiction to multiple drugs, his college enrollment, his disabled aunt, and the fact that he carries a purse. As the song ends, the young man tells the sergeant that he’ll be the first to volunteer for “a war without blood or gore”

Tom Waits has covered increasingly political subject matter since the advent of the Iraq war. In “The Day After Tomorrow,” Waits adopts the persona of a soldier writing home that he is disillusioned with war and thankful to be leaving. The song does not mention the Iraq war specifically, and, as Tom Moon writes, “it could be the voice of a Civil War soldier singing a lonesome late-night dirge.” Waits himself does describe the song as something of an “elliptical” protest song about the Iraqi invasion, however.


American Skin



In the first song, A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, it was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It discusses the discrimination and racism in America and his hope for a change. One of the major events in his life that inspired him to write this song was when he was summarily arrested for registering at a “whites only” motel.

The second song is America Skin (41 Shots) by Bruce Springsteen, and it is inspired by a tragedy about Amadou Diallo, where he was shot to death 41 times by four NYPD cops in 1999. He was unarmed and the cops mistaken his wallet for a gun.

Although change have been very prominent and the Civil Rights Movement have come a long way, discrimination still unfortunately exists. The second song reinforces the notion why a change is needed.


Panye & Pink


The 1st video is Freda Payne’s song Bring the Boys Home (1971) that demonstrated her displeases of the Vietnam War in the 70s. “Fathers are pleading, lovers are all alone. Mothers are praying-send our sons back home. You marched them away-yes, you did-on ships and planes. To the senseless war, facing death in vain” The 2nd video is about Pink’s and the Indigo Girls’ song Dear Mr. President that was said to be an open letter to President Bush in 2006 to protest against the Iraq war. “How do you sleep while the rest of us cry? How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye? How do you walk with your head held high? Can you even look me in the eye and tell me why?” The lyrics in both songs clearly state the singer/writer’s true feeling about war. In Payne’s song her messages were more conservative than Pink’s. As a contemporary singer, Pink speaks out directly to the President’s wrong doing of unwanted hostilities.


It’s all about the war


I Ain’t Marching Anymore is an anti-war song by Phil Ochs, a U.S. protest singer in 1965. Ochs wrote this song as American involvement in the Vietnam War was beginning to grow. The song is written from the perspective of a soldier who has been present at lots of wars is sick of fighting, it criticizes all of American military. It’s also forward about the older generation sending the young to war, and then the yound soldiers die or fall first. “It’s always the old to lead us to the war. It’s always the young to fall. Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun. Tell me is it worth it all”

God Bless This Mess is also an anti-war song by Sheryl Crow in 2008. It’s written in protest to the war and which opposed the Bush administration. Toward the end, Crow sings, “The president spoke words of comfort with tear drops in his eyes. Then he led us as a nation into a war based on lies.”


Simple Song of Freedom

The Song by Bobby Darin “Simple Song of Freedom” was released in 1969 and rendered his views of freedom and the social events manifesting around him, especially the Vietnam war. He’s singing about the need to stop fighting bring integrity and love back to our society. One line that alluded to the war was his line “We, the people, don’t want a war” The modern song that’s also a protest song is “Cry” by Michael Jackson. It was released in 2001 and its themes are war, brotherhood, and truth. The video had a long line of people holding hands next to each other that spread across a long distance. The song emphasized the need to come together, stop the wars and change the world. Which is similar to the themes in the song “Simple Song of Freedom” by Bobby Darin, which had a more mellow tone, like a country song. While the song Cry was had a more sad tone. But I think the listener understood the message that’s rendered in both of these songs, even though the wording and music may be different.
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“Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die” and “Sex and Gasoline”

“Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die” was written by Joe McDonald is a famous protest song which is anti-Vietnam War. It was the released on 1967. The singalong chorus and stinging attack on the US military industrial empire had its greatest moment. “Sex and Gasoline” by Rodney Crowell is from 2008 his Grammy-nominated album. The song is depicts a society still run by men who wield their power over young women making them into whores, literal or otherwise. It attacked the ear that mistresses of golfers and the like are objects of fame rather than shame. Compare to the protest songs from 1960s and nowadays, I found that most of protest songs around 1960s are mainly about anti-war. But most of the modern protest songs are attacked unfair social phenomenons.\”Feel Like I\’m Fixing To Die\”



What’s going on in the World today?




Marvin Gaye “What’s going on” was release in 1971 by subsidiary label of Motown records,  while the events of Vietnam was going on, and the few decades of the civil rights movement, music like Marvin Gaye, and many others music artist describe din the last few blogs post shows that many people, were aware of many of the things that were going on, and wanted to share there feelings and opinions through there music.  This allowed there fans to take a moment to really think about what was going on in the world.

The All Star tribute shows that much have not really change as far as some of the lyrics are concern, this collaboration was done right after Sept 11 2001 even though they contributed the precedes to the Red Cross to help with the cure of Aids.. So War is still an issue in both era.  I guess a difference is that the world has issues, but people trty to use music as a way of spreading a message, hoping people can hear and may make people better.




Protest Through Media Then and Now


In the first song “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, Gaye protests the war and violence regarding the Vietnam War. This song was released around 1970. Gaye uses the inspiration for this song from his brother who served in the military and fought in the war. His co-writer also added his own experiences of witnessing police brutality against war protesters on the west coast. The second song, “Words I Never Said” by Lupe Fiasco is a song protesting the ongoing war on terror as well as much of the ignorance that Fiasco feels exists in society today as a result of media and government dishonesty. Both songs express protest through their respective lyrics. However, Gaye’s “What’s Going On” has a more peaceful and soothing sound to it, a reasonable protest. Whereas Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said” has a strong direct message for the public.



Change is gonna come!



The first song depicted in this blog is Sam Cooke “A Change is gonna come.” This song expresses feelings about the Civil Rights Movement. The song was released shortly after is death in 1964. The second video depicted is Lil Wayne’s song called “Georgia Bush.” The song expresses his feelings about the causes and actions of the president during Hurricane Katrina. This song was released in 2008 during the devastating event of  Hurricane Katrina.

Both songs relate to one another by showing that the government is acting unfairly to African American people. They also show how these are normal people who deserve a change in their lives. The main way for change is through equality. Situations that arise in the 1960’s could have been handled differently as well as the situation in Georgia.  Both artists sing of hope for the African American people. Sam Cook expresses this by saying he knows that change is going to come after a long time. Lil Wayne expresses this by saying that he continues to have his people in his prayers. The artists exemplify that there should be a major change among African American people and soon in their decade.


Protest Songs

“Where have all the flowers gone?” (1960-1970) by pete seeger. The song is about wives to soldiers, who love to pick flowers. But then, their husbands are to go to war, and the wives receive horrible news that their husbands have been killed. So, in the end, the flowers that the wives pick end up on the husband’s graves. The wives have picked so many flowers, that there are barely any more flowers left for anybody else. “What I’ve Done” (2000-2010) by linkin park. The song is about people who litters and pollutes and does so many other bad things to the earth. But one day, they wake up and realized what they had been doing was terrible and wrong. So they asked themselves, “What Have I’ve Done?” and that is where the song title comes from. “Where have all the flowers gone?”, and “What I’ve Done”, are both about horrible things that happen to people. But, “Where have all the flowers gone”, is about people who are just trying to protect their country, instead of being rewarded, gets death, and the other song is about people who actually do bad things to harm someone/ something but no one gets hurt.
“Where have all the flowers gone?” changed society, because when people heard it, they realized that war is not necessary, that problems can be solved without death, and that way, less people would die like the soldiers in the song, and their families would not be miserable. “What I’ve Done” protests against pollution and other ways of damaging the earth.