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Songs of Resistance!

A few days after the inauguration of the new president/predator, I launched this site dedicated to music that may inspire some in the new #Resistance.  If you don't know me, or know me only from my days at Editor & Publisher or The Nation--or through my books (some of them very "resist-y," especially the latestThe Tunnels, on dramatic escapes under the Berlin Wall, see covers at right)--then you probably are not aware that I started in rock 'n roll:  serving as #2 editor at the legendary Crawdaddy for almost the entire 1970s.   So I will post a new song every day, added at the top.  By necessity, these picks will reflect my boomer age and taste, so I invite you, via Twitter or in the Comments below, to suggest newer songs that I will try to add.  Note:  I am focusing on songs that I feel urge "action," not simply protesting something unjust. Thanks for visiting, and raising your voice, and now listening...

Funny and then inspirational "Sand in the Gears" from Frank Turner.

U2 with Woody Guthrie's take on famed resister "Jesus Christ."

Suggested by my daughter, straight out of Ireland, Stiff Little Fingers'  "Suspect Device."

For Trump (in his new military garb), John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen live.

Bob Marley (nice to see name-check in Moonlight) with "Redemption Song."

Tom Morello, with Ben Harper, "Save the Hammer for the Man."

And now for some extreme resistance, here's The Clash's "Guns of Brixton."  Note:  my daughter lived in Brixton not long ago and when we visited we heard the local history with that song.   And little-known fact:  Van Gogh also lived in Brixton!

The death of Allen Toussaint should have drawn as much attention and lamentation as a Bowie or Prince but sadly did not.   One of the great musicians, writers, producers, and New Orleans ambassadors.  Here's his "Yes We Can"--you may have only heard the Pointers' hit version.  And I'll be adding some of his other classics such as "Freedom for the Stallion" later.

Two of the greatest songwriters of our time, going back well over five decades, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann (now my Twitter friends), teamed with Brenda Russell on "None of Us Are Free," made famous by Ray Charles but I prefer this amazing Solomon Burke/Blind Boys of Alabama version.

 From '70s Brit punk band--still around--Sham 69: "If the Kids Are United (They Will Never Be Divided):

I posted the actual song below but can't miss this amazing video of Leonard Cohen reciting his classic "Democracy."

The great guitarist Ry Cooder with "No Banker Left Behind," inspired by Occupy Wall Street.

 Vintage 1989 Public Enemy "Fight the Power" video...

The Beatles "Revolution" with long-hidden video.


Muse's "Uprising" came from an album actually titled The Resistance, so there you are.  

Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen and hundreds of thousands at Obama Inaugural concert, with some of those little heard lyrics.

The viral sensation of the recent women's march, here in great Samantha Bee segment.

Gil Scott-Heron has rightly been called the Godfather of Rap for his  early 1970s work (also, he wrote for me at Crawdaddy).    Here's his classic "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."  Nixon era.  See how it holds up.

And now a young Billy Bragg with the classic protest tune, "Which Side Are You On?"  Get ready to roll it out if there's a General Strike....

Tracy Chapman, live on Austin City Limits, with "Talkin' About a Revolution."

I've long felt Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" was his most perfectly realized poetry.  Springsteen doing it at the Berlin Wall, helping to speed its fall, figures in my The Tunnels book (see my article).  Here's Dylan's original in a rare "bootleg" outtake from the 1964 session.

One of U2's greatest, "One," has special resonance to me for its link to fall of Berlin Wall and hopes for a new Germany.  Here's the first video they made, which was soon pulled for some reason--see my post about it and its link to my The Tunnels book.

Old friend Steve Van Zandt wrote and sang the anti-apartheid anthem (when it really counted) "Sun City," here live with some famous friends not named Bruce.   No I will not now be adding Dylan's "Silvio."

One of the most important songs of our era--because it helped launch the reggae craze in the USA and made Bob Marley's mass popularity here possible--was Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come (The Harder They Fall)," from the movie of that name...

From our patron saint,  Woody Guthrie...here's his little-known "All You Fascists Bound to Lose" in a rollicking live session...

 In a departure, here's "This Land Is Your Land" as sung by America--no, not the old "Horse With No Name" group but protestors in more than a dozen cities at demonstrations around the USA in the early days of Trump.   Lady Gaga sang a snippet at Super Bowl.

Hard to top this call for Resistance--as I noted in this article, and in my new The Tunnels book, David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen helped bring down the Berlin Wall with performances at the Wall in the 1980s.  And here's Bowie that day singing his amazing "Heroes" with images of Berliners behind him waving a family members over the Wall.

And now the queen, Nina Simone, with classic "Mississippi Goddamn," from the height of the civil rights movement.

And my favorite Clash song, which opens with what might be the theme of this blog: "What are we gonna do now???"
The consistently political and great songwriter (and Treme veteran) and anti-death penalty activist Steve Earle with "The Revolution Starts Now."    In your own backyard, in your own hometown.  What's the use of sittin' around?

Bob Marley was rasta-political his entire career, which ended far too soon in Jamaica. We published first Marley cover at Crawdaddy and later I caught an amazing double bill at tiny Max's Kansas City:  Springsteen and the Mailers, for several nights, coin flip to decide who opened....Here's Bob's "Get Up, Stand Up, For Your Rights." 

Phil Ochs, one of the greatest topical songwriters ever (I knew him in NYC in the 1970s) until mental issues struck, recorded "The Power and the Glory" as a demo below, with key final verse not in the famous  released version. "You can stop them if you try!"

Patti Smith (I published her first essay in a national magazine at Crawdaddy) and late husband Fred "Sonic" Smith live, with "People Have the Power."  And don't forget to check out The Tunnels.

I've always loved this song and video from Joseph Arthur, an early performer for Occupy at Zuccotti Park who has gone on to great things.

John Lennon, with advice to Trump (no doubt in one ear, out the other) and the media, "Gimme Some Truth," with great video.   H/t  David Hazan.

From the late, great, Leonard Cohen (who also saw "the future...it is murder"), he envisions "Democracy coming to the USA."   It's "coming from the sorrow in the streets / that holy place where the races meet."

The greatest song of any sort of our era, written and sung by Sam Cooke, and tragically the last song released at the time of his death in 1964.   He was inspired by Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," then topped it.  Good video:

I have a long history with Bruce Springsteen, going back to 1972,  and the last time I spoke with him he was still doing "The Ghost of Tom Joad"--inspired by Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck--only acoustically.  That changed with this epic live performance with Tom Morello, one of my favorite videos.

Arlo Guthrie and friends sings the classic by his dad, Woody, "Deportee."

Neil Young, here on  SNL live, with some sage advice for us all for the long haul--Keep on Rockin.'

Yes, I was there in a studio for one of first demos for Talking Heads' first single "Psycho Killer" (and picked out their first publicity photo).  Here's "Life During Wartime" live--perhaps more warning than inspiration--with some advice:  "This ain't no party/this ain't no disco/ this ain't no foolin' around."


eve said...

Thanks for posting these" Songs of Resistance.." Music is powerful.

ekorn said...

I came of age in the sixties and seventies when songwriters gave voice to what many were thinking/feeling. I think the current climate will bring forth many powerful songs that will inspire action or soothe anxious souls.
Three recent ones worth checking are:

What It Means by The Drive-by Truckers off their excellent American Band album

(I Can't Keep) Quiet by Milck See footage of the women's marches set to her song here: https://twitter.com/DavidAAppelbaum

Count to Ten by Matt Sucich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xku7Rbajj4

Anonymous said...

baby boomers need to get it together


William D said...

Hi Greg, I made a Spotify playlist based off (As close as I could get) of this that everyone can listen to. Here's the link https://open.spotify.com/user/williamj83/playlist/4M7c5U1EIhArctFVbsXiVJ

JerryN said...

My old pal Matthew Grimm has written a few that you might be interested in. There's "Enemy" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZOla2QNn9c), "Armies of the Lost" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3axDPbi8QE), and one of my faves about the Bonus Army "Anacostia" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HU0Md_uYBk).

Tad Richards said...

Pirate Jenny
Which Side Are You On?

and this one....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBB-wkuK9mE

David Dennie said...

You haven't YET included John Fogerty's song "Fortunate Son" (recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival, of course)!! WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! That may be the single greatest (and hardest-rocking, for sure) protest song of the entire Rock Era!! AGAIN, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Greg Mitchell said...

David, thanks for your comment, but I am trying to focus more on songs urging action or forecasting victories or "inspirational," not just classic "protest" songs. Of course, there is some overlap, but that's my reasoning. --GM

David Dennie said...

That's a distinction without a difference. If you're not inspired by "Fortunate Son", you really need to have your thyroid checked. In the song, it's true, Fogerty does not urge *explicit* action, but a call to action is clearly implicit in the song in toto. (One quality of great art is a lack of tiresome literality.) Surely you can see that?

Michael Doran said...

Great songs!

Lucinda Williams has a current one from her last album she has been dedicating to the Women (and other) marches..
Walk On.


Anonymous said...

All great songs. For a more recent take, "Uprising" by Muse.

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