I’ve been thinking a bit about Immortal Technique. If you’ve never heard of him, he is a rapper and although his lyrics are riddled with the obligatory scatological word bombs, the content and dialogue of his lyrics are filled with political analysis and clearly fall into the classic genre of protest music.
He was one of the earliest “celebrity” supporters of Occupy Wall Street, an enterprise often gifted with the presence of musicians. Everybody always mentions the drummers, but I’ve seen all sorts of music being made there. So, I’ve been thinking about all the great protest music that has chronicled the political movements of our history and the role that music may play in this movement.
From the time of the revolution that gave birth to our nation we have been chronicling our political shifts in song. Remember Yankee Doodle Dandy? Did you know it was originally sung by the British Army mocking the disheveled appearance of the Revolutionary Army, essentially calling them DFHs. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Of course, we turned that on its head and adopted it as one of our own proud anthems; celebrating the triumph of the ill clad common man over the bought and paid for, over equipped army of the corporatist successors to the British East India Company, the British Bankers and the corrupt British Government in thrall to those banksters and corporate interests.
Later anthems of freedom include old slave spirituals singing about the day when jubilee would come, the songs that gave a voice to early union organizing, the folk songs of people like Woody Guthrie, through the body of protest music of the late 60’s and early 70’s, and now the rappers and folks singers of today.
Woody Guthrie famous described a folks song this way:
A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it
or it could be who’s hungry and where their mouth is
or who’s out of work and where the job is
or who’s broke and where the money is
or who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.
Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary appears to have thoughts along the same lines, he stopped by Liberty Plaza to play Pete Seeger’s “Where have all the Flowers Gone” and other songs for the occupiers.
Buffalo Springfield’s classic “For What it’s Worth” sounds like it was written yesterday to precisely describe Occupy Wall Street. What songs do you think would make good anthems for the Occupations? Maybe each local Occupation needs its own song? You can paste links to youtubes of your picks in the comments.
I also want to encourage the musical or poetic among you to put up lyrics or youtubes or links to MP3s or similar with any original compositions that you have come with just for the Occupy movement or for a specific local Occupation. Drop me a link in the comments and later in the week maybe we can have a linkfest post for all your great contributions.