November 18, 2011

Occupying My Living Room And Singing Protest Songs

Celebrating the 1909 publication of the first American
protest song book, a re-issue of "The Little Red Song Book."

Like many Occupy camps around the world, protesters in my area are in the process of being evicted. Although a few occupiers are holding their ground at Occupy Victoria, a court order to remove them is expected today.

It is uncertain what kind of restrictions will be placed on future free speech gatherings in Centennial Square. Hopefully they won't be as sanitized as the ones imposed on Liberty Square in New York - no backpacks, no tents, no sleeping bags, and no musical instruments.

No musical instruments? They might be able to take away our instruments, but they can't take away the music. I wonder if singing is allowed? Humming? Clapping?

To protest these draconian attacks on our humanity, I am Occupying my living room for the day and playing protest songs.

The playing of protest songs has a long history in the peoples' fight for freedom, democracy, and equality. Every generation has their own songs, but what they have in common is the use of music and poetry to confront injustice.

Here are a few of the tunes I am inspired to sing today, with a sample of the lyrics that makes them great protest poetry.

Uprising - Muse
"Another promise, another scene
Another packaged lie to keep us wrapped in greed."

Ohio - Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young

"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio."

The Times They Are A-Changing - Bob Dylan

"Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'."

The End of The World - REM

"It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine." 

When The Music's Over - The Doors

"What have they done to the earth? 
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn and 
tied her with fences and 
dragged her down."

This Land Is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
"The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walkin'  -  I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side.... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city-In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me."

Head Like A Hole
- Nine Inch Nails

"Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
I'd rather die than give you control.
Bow down before the one you serve.
You're going to get what you deserve." 

Killing In The Name Of - Rage Against The Machine

"And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under contro
l
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me to. (repeat)"

Signs - Five Man Electrical Band

"And the sign said,
"Anybody caught trespassin'
Will be shot on sight."
So I jumped on the fence and I yelled at the house,
"Hey! What gives you the right
To put up a fence to keep me out,
But to keep Mother Nature in?
If God was here, he'd tell you to your face,
'Man, you're some kind of sinner.'""

Scooter Boys - Indigo Girls

"Way down south where the Maya reign
Zapata reading poetry in his grave
They said, "We're stealing from the best to feed the poor".
Well, they need more..."

Imagine - John Lennon

"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world"


Any list like this is incomplete as soon as it is started. What protest songs would you add?

This machine kills the desire to consume

"They can't take our songs." David Crosby

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