Protest Music Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century

Wow! What a weekend! And, I’m not simply talking about taking care of my younger son’s puppy, Otis, along with our two dogs this weekend. Yes, Otis is the closest thing we have to a grandchild, so sue me. Ironically, our younger dog, who is normally quiet and docile, wanted nothing to due with Otis. Muggsy was in constant protest against Otis. Our older dog, Griffey, tried to broker a peace agreement, but was unsuccessful, like most Presidents brokering a peace in the Middle East (Jimmy Carter was the one exception). And, yes, my family names their pets after famous people. We have had cats named Reggie (Williams, former Cincinnati Bengals star of the late-80s), Sara (after a girl in my son’s class), Jordan (for Michael, of course), Valentina (for the first female Soviet cosmonaut) and Magic (Johnson, of course). Currently, my older son and his wife have two cats named Bowie (David!) and Nigel (for the character in This Is Spinal Tap); they also had a Layla (the famous song). On the canine side, we have had Oscar (for basketball great Robertson) de Clemente (baseball great Roberto), with Griffey names after Ken Griffey Jr. (baseball) and Muggsy after Muggsy Bogues (basketball). As for Otis, he is named after Otis Redding. Boy, did I raise my boys right or what? Wait! Don’t answer that!

What does that have to do with anything? While we were experiencing some minor civil unrest within our home, the country was experiencing some as well. And, all of this unrest got me thinking: Do we have protest songs like we have in the 60s? In the 60s, there was civil unrest in the U.S. due to Civil Rights, Equal Rights and the Vietnam War, to oversimplify things. Currently, we have many anxious people concerning our new President, Donal J. Trump, and what he might do to our rights. Personally, I find it a little disconcerting when a President of this great country seems more concerned about inauguration attendance and TV ratings than actually worrying about “big picture” things.

Back in the 80s, I was always attracted to politically-tinged music. I loved music by The Clash, The Police and Public Enemy, just to name some of the more significant political commentators of my day. Over in the U.K. during the 80s, there seemed to be many such artists who were worried about the state of affairs both in their country, our country and throughout the world. The Jam and Billy Bragg are but two of the more significant of those artists. Of course, the alternative groups of the late 80s and early 90s were very politically active, with Pearl Jam, Green Day and N.W.A leading the way.

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Ever since the election season, I began to research this topic. In October, a full 30 days before the election, writer Dave Eggers started a project called “30 Songs 30 Days”, in which Eggers got artists like Franz Ferdinand, Aimee Mann, Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket’s lead singer to release Anti-Donal Trump for President songs. Like all such collections, the quality of the songs vary greatly, but I plan to list some of the better songs, as well as some significant songs that have been recently released that are protesting Donald Trump, many of which have just been released to coincide with President Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s Marches this past weekend. To be honest, as the adult version of the kid, while in elementary music class, would be the one kid who constantly requested to sing “This Land Is My Land” (Long live Woody Guthrie!).

So, here is a list of some of my favorite Anti-President Trump songs that have been released in the wake of his presidential campaign and subsequent victory. I have listed them in no particular order.

  1. Arcade Fire featuring Mavis Staples – “I Give You Power”
  2. Gorillaz featuring Benjamin Clementine – “Hallelujah Money”
  3. Fiona Apple – “Tiny Hands”
  4. CocoRosie featuring Anohni – “Smoke ‘Em Out”
  5. Entrance – “Not Gonna Say Your Name”
  6. Joey Bada$$ – “Land of the Free”
  7. case/lang/veirs – “People Have the Power [Patty Smith cover]”
  8. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People…”
  9. Green Day – “Troubled Times”
  10. Jim James – “Same Old Lie”
  11. YG featuring Nipsey Hussle – “FDT”
  12. Death Cab for Cutie – “Million Dollar Loan”
  13. Andrew Bird Featuring Jim James – “Sic of Elephants”
  14. The Cooties featuring Reggie Watts – “Trumpy Trump”
  15. Pusha T – “Untouchable”
  16. Swet Shop Boys – “T5”
  17. Franz Ferdinand – “Demagogue”
  18. DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels – “Nobody Speak”
  19. Moby & the Void Pacific Choir – “Empty and Matter”
  20. Rogue Wave – “Vote for Dummy [Guided by Voices cover]”
  21. Drunken Logic – “What a Beautiful Morning!”
  22. Modern Baseball – “Bart to the Future Part 2: The Musical”
  23. JPEGMAFIA featuring Freaky – “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump”
  24. Ryan Miller – “The Clown”
  25. The Long Winters – “Make America Great Again”
  26. U.S. Elevators featuring Mac McCaughan & Tim Bluhm – “Old Man Trump”
  27. Bhi Bhiman – “With Love from Russia”
  28. Daubert Nobacon – “Revolution 9.01”
  29. Perfect Giddimani featuring Stephen Dajure – “Dollnald Trump”
  30. Agents of the Fantastic – “DT Blues”

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Not all of these are from the “30 Songs 30 Days” collection, which is actually 51 songs large. Recently, Eggers announced his intention to release Our First 100 Days collection, with the intention being the release of a new song each day during the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. On Inauguration Day, the first song was released – “Fly on the Wall” by Angel Olson. You can pre-pay for this compilation by visiting http://www.bandcamp.com.

Now, if you are a Trump-backer, there are artists who have released songs in his support. Since I enjoy “bucking the system”, I did not research those sites, but I did see them. Now, if I were dealing with only “alternative facts”, then I would have left that information unsaid. But, I will acknowledge its existence. The only thing is that I am worried that those songs will mainly be by those tired country and rock artists that I stopped listening to a long time ago (or I never did). I am not a fan of Ted Nugent, Sammy Hagar or Toby Keith, so I would not normally try to acquire new music by them anyway.

So, right now, I am raising a glass to protest music! May music always be a voice of truth in the world and continue to hold a mirror up to society for all to see. That’s what makes all forms of music so vital, whether it’s Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” or Metallica’s “One”. We NEED artists to give us the news.

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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