So today, I am listing some of my favorite protest songs! I dug a little beyond the obvious -- no Dylan, no CCR, nothing from height of Vietnam rock or the punk rock era. I wanted to post some songs that I really like, that are maybe a little bit off the beaten path or under the radar of the average person.
Feel free to let me know what your most beloved protest songs are in the comments section.
1. Little Boxes
By Malvina Reynolds
This one goes all the way back to 1962. The point is clear. We conform to survive, in the process we lose a lot of who we are. Gotta love it a message like this, delivered by a voice like Malvina's.
By Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger
This clip is from a couple years later, in 1964. I think it kind of sparked the 60s protest movement.
I learned a lot of this same stuff in school, 20 years later.
By Cyndi Lauper
Jumping ahead a few decades -- Who is this Cyndi Lauper and why is she so unusual?
After she was a pop sensation but before she was the toast of Broadway for penning the songs in "Kinky Boots," Cyndi put together this lovely ballad, haunting and beautiful. You have to pay close attention to understand exactly what the political issue is here, which is one of the reasons I like the song so much. Sometimes there's something lovely about subtlety.
The video here is not quite so subtle, with all the JFK imagery. The song itself could be about any great leader or working class hero who comes under attack -- whether the method is slander or murder. Peter Pumpkinhead represents any leader popular among the masses. I see a lot of parallels here with the extreme conservative right's constant attacks on President Obama. And some Clinton, too.
I suppose if I were a conservative, I might see a lot of parallels to the far left's attacks on Reagan or Bush. I guess the point is, unseen forces -- and sometimes very visible forces -- try to destroy anyone who looks capable of becoming more powerful than they are.
OK, I admit Neil Young really isn't under the radar as a voice of rock protest. But this song just rocks so hard and so well that I had to put it on the list. Neil found his inner metal anthem singer here -- and life was good.