* An mp3 audio file of the protest songbook radio programme (75 mins) is available to download - click here


Project Description / EXHIBITION


Click on a 'SONG' name to read lyrics and corresponding comment. Click on 'SUGGESTED BY' name to read comment by that person. Some songs included in the list below, were suggested anonymously and are without a comment.

SONG: ARTIST: SUGGESTED BY:
"Anarchy In The UK" Sex Pistols
"Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti" Joan Baez / Georges Moustaki Marina Vons, Edinburgh, Scotland.
"Beds are Burning" Midnight Oil Jaqueline Hornel, Austria.
"Bella Ciao" Trad: Italian Partisan Song Zuky Serper.
"Between The Wars" Billy Bragg
"Bloody Revolutions" Crass. Tracey Whitley, Budapest, Hungary.
"Blowing In The Wind" Bob Dylan
Brazillian Samba Music Various Artists Elio Gilardi , Torino, Italy.
"Bobby McGee" Janis Joplin Edith Burtensham, London, England.
"Boom!" System of a Down Richard Glettler & Klaus Dobbler, Austria.
"Born To Be Wild" Steppenwolf Klaus Dobbler, Austria.
"Cap In Hand" The Proclaimers Martin, Austria.
"Clandestino" Manu Chao
"Coffin For The Head Of State" Fela Kuti Henrik Mayer, Dresden, Germany.
"Everybody Knows" Leonard Cohen Giuliano Girelli, Torino, Italy.
"Fight The Power" Public Enemy
"Flag Day" The Housemartins Lesley Young, Malmo, Sweden.
"Fuck and Run" Liz Phair Lisa Urmston, California, USA.
"Get Up Stand Up" Bob Marley Martha Rosler, New York, USA.
"Ghost Town" The Specials Ian Ramsay, Edinburgh, Scotland.
"God Save The Queen" Sex Pistols
"Halloween in Ostberlin" Silly Sylvie Linke, Leipzig, Germany.
"Imagine John Lennon
"I'm So Bored With The U.S.A." The Clash Werner, Graz, Austria.
"It Says Here" Billy Bragg
"Kerosene" Big Black Oliver Schneider, Berlin, Germany.
"Let the Sunshine In" From the musical ŇHairÓ Regina Schworzl, Austria.
"Life is Life" Opus Inga kaleezimprich, Amsterdam, Holland.
"Macht Kaputt Was Euch Kaputt Macht" Ton Steine Scherben Kolo, Austria.
"Master and Servant" Depeche Mode Mircea Cantor, Paris, France.
"Meat Is Murder" The Smiths
"My Metrocard" Le Tigre Andreas Fogarasi, Vienna, Austria.
"Peat Bog Soldiers" Pete Seeger Martha Rosler, New York, USA.
"Play a Giron" Silvio Rodriguez Maria Maria, Madrid, Spain.
"Power To The People" John Lennon
"Redemption Song" Bob Marley
"Red Flag" Robert Wyatt Clemans Stecher, Vienna, Austria.
"Revolution" The Beatles Mark Wilson, Scotland.
"Se Ti Tagliassero a Pezzetti" Fabrizio De Andre Maurizio & Ilaria, Italy.
"Shipbuilding" Robert Wyatt Dominic Hislop, Berlin, Germany.
"Southern Man" Neil Young Mark Wilson, Scotland.
"Straight Edge" Minor Threat
"Subterrainian Homesick Blues" Bob Dylan Michael Albert (ZNet / Z Magazine), USA.
"Suggestion" Fugazi Jeremiah Day, Amsterdam, Holland.
"Talking About Revolution" Tracey Chapman Zoe, Graz, Austria.
"Tea for the Tillerman" Cat Stevens Tomás Ruiz-Rivas, Madrid, Spain.
"Tears of Rage" Bob Dylan Geoff Farina, Rhode Island, USA.
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" Gil Scott Heron Ian Ramsay, Edinburgh, Scotland.
"They Are Afraid of Saint Nicholas" Plastic People of the Universe Harry Baloch, Austria.
"2+2=5 or The Lukeworm" Radiohead Silvia Enrietti, Torino, Italy.
"Union Maid" Woody Guthrie Susan George (Attac), France.
"What's Goin' On" Marvin Gaye
"When the Ship Comes In" Bob Dylan Michael Albert (ZNet / Z Magazine), USA.
"What You Do With What You've Got" Dick Gaughan (Si Kahn)
"Where Have All The Flowers Gone" Pete Seeger Christoph Rauch, Hamburg, Germany.
"White Riot" The Clash
"Whitey on the Moon" Gil-Scott Heron Carlo, Leipzig, Germany.
"Wintertime in America" Gil Scott Heron Jeremiah Day, Amsterdam, Holland.
"Workers Song" Dick Gaughan (Ed Pickford)
"Working Class hero" John Lennon Miklos Erhardt, Budapest, Hungary.
"World Love" The Magnetic Fields Ross Birrell, Glasgow, Scotland.
"World Turned Upside Down" Dick Gaughan / Billy Bragg (Leon Rosselson)

If you would like to add to the Protest Songbook archive, please send an e-mail to:
bighope@bighope.hu

Please include the title and artist of a song that, in the past or in the present, either had an influence on your own political outlook or in some way simply resonated with your own views. The song itself needn't necessarily be explicitly political in its content. It could be that it has or had political connotations only in a certain context or it could be that the production and distribution of  the song was a manifestation of a certain political approach that you appreciated.

We would also like to ask that for the song/songs you choose, you explain a bit, in a few sentences, or more if you have time, the context of the song and some reasons why in your opinion it had some special relevance to you, was important generally or how you think it was successful / effective. We will try to find the relevant lyrics (if relevant) on the internet (if it's not too obscure) and include them in the song archive on this site
alongside your comment about the song.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed.

"Anarchy In The UK" - Sex Pistols

I am an anti-christ
I am an anarchist
Don't know what I want but I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passerby

chorus
I wanna be anarchy

Anarchy for the UK
It's coming sometime maybe
I give a wrong time stop a traffic line
You're future dream is a shopping scheme

chorus

There are many ways to get what you want
I use the best I use the rest
I use the enemy
I use anarchy

chorus

Is this the MPLA
or is this the UDA
Is this the IRA
I thought it was the UK

Or just another council tenency

chorus

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"Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti" - Joan Baez / Georges Moustaki

Here's to you Nicholas and Bart,
rest forever here in our hearts,
the last and final moment is yours,
that agony is your triumph !

Maintenant Nicolas et Bart,
vous dormez au fond de nos coeurs,
vous étiez tout seuls dans la mort,
mais par elle vous vainquerez !

Canto aqui Nicola y Bart,
vuestra fin y vuestra prisón,
et morit os d’ libertad,
y un lugar en mi corazón.

Canto así Nicola y Bart,
a quién odia la esclavitud,
a quién sabe amar la verdad,
canto fuerte y Libertad.

* * *

It is not my favorite political songs but it is the first one I remember. My mum explained the story to me and I was very upset to find out than even with such a great international support, Sacco and Vanzetti were still executed. At that age (8, I think) I was already aware that American were the one who had once slaughtered the Native Americans, but hearing this story made me even more suspicious of the so called 'democracy' of the US.

Marina Vons, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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"Beds are Burning" - Midnight Oil

* * *

Not a song about sex! "The time has come, a fact's a fact, it belongs to them, let's give it back" A protest song against European possession of aboriginal land in Australia, and more recently relevant to the Australian government's continual refusal to say 'sorry' for past acts regarding Australia's indigenous people.

Jaqueline Hornel, Austria.

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"Bella Ciao" - Trad: Italian Partisan Song.

* * *

Since Genoa 2001, the Italian partisan song, "Bella Ciao", has became an unofficial hymn at anti-capitalist events. The best experience I had was at the final session of the European Social Forum in Florence in November 2002. The song marked the end of a day of discussions (and arguments...) amongst the social movements, which resulted with the call for a general strike and demonstrations on the day that the war in Iraq started, and an all European wide demonstration on February 15th 2003. As you probably remember, the call from Florence evolved to the global day of action in February 15th and the biggest social movement in world history. I think that the song "Bella Ciao" represents this spirit and hope. I don't know if there is a recording of the event, but I know that many people filmed in Florence.

Zuky Serper.

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"Between The Wars" - Billy Bragg

I was a miner, I was a docker, I was a railwayman between the wars
I raised a family, in times of austerity, with sweat at the foundry between the wars

I paid the union,then as times got harder, I looked to the government to help the working man
but they brought prosperity down at the armoury, we're arming for peace, me boys, between the wars

I kept the faith and I kept voting, not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
for theirs is a land with a wall around it and mine is a faith in my fellow man

theirs is a land of hope and glory, mine is the greenfield and the factory floor
theirs are the skies all dark with bombers and mine is the peace we knew between the wars

call up the craftsman, bring me the draughtsman, build me a path from cradle to grave
and I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage

go find the young men, never to fight again, bring up the banners from the days goneby
sweet moderation, heart of this nation, desert us not we are between the wars

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"Bloody Revolutions" - Crass.

You talk about your revolution, well, that's fine
But what are you going to be doing come the time?
Are you going to be the big man with the tommy-gun?
Will you talk of freedom when the blood begins to run?
Well, freedom has no value if violence is the price
Don't want your revolution, I want anarchy and peace
You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain't it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

But what about those people who don't want your new restrictions?
Those that disagree with you and have their own convictions?
You say they've got it wrong because they don't agree with you
So when the revolution comes you'll have to run them through
You say that revolution will bring freedom for us all
Well freedom just ain't freedom when your back's against the wall

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain't it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

Will you indoctrinate the masses to serve your new regime?
And simply do away with those whose views are too extreme?
Transportation details could be left to British rail
Where Zyklon B succeeded, North Sea Gas will fail
It's just the same old story of man destroying man
We've got to look for other answers to the problems of this land

You talk of overthrowing power with violence as your tool
You speak of liberation and when the people rule
Well ain't it people rule right now, what difference would there be?
Just another set of bigots with their rifle-sights on me

Vive la revolution, people of the world unite
Stand up men of courage, it's your job to fight

It all seems very easy, this revolution game
But when you start to really play things won't be quite the same
Your intellectual theories on how it's going to be
Don't seem to take into account the true reality
Cos the truth of what you're saying, as you sit there sipping beer
Is pain and death and suffering, but of course you wouldn't care

You're far too much of a man for that, if Mao did it so can you
What's the freedom of us all against the suffering of the few?
That's the kind of self-deception that killed ten million jews
Just the same false logic that all power-mongers use
So don't think you can fool me with your political tricks
Political right, political left, you can keep your politics
Government is government and all government is force
Left or right, right or left, it takes the same old course
Oppression and restriction, regulation, rule and law
The seizure of that power is all your revolution's for
You romanticise your heroes, quote from Marx and Mao
Well their ideas of freedom are just oppression now

Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created
It's just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren't clearly stated
Nothing's really different cos all government's the same
They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game

Nothing changed for all the death, that their ideas created
It's just the same fascistic games, but the rules aren't clearly stated
Nothing's really different cos all government's the same
They can call it freedom, but slavery is the game
There's nothing that you offer but a dream of last years hero
The truth of revolution, brother................... is year zero.

* * *

The idea got me quite nostalgic! I remembered a song called "Bloody Revolutions" by the early Brit punk group Crass, from the days when punk was punk and being an anti fashion statement wasn't enough. The song Bloody Revolutions, was one of the slower romantic numbers...

"You talk about revolution, and that's fine,
But what are you going to be doing at the time?
Are you going to be a big man with a tommy gun,
speak of freedom when the blood begins to run
Well freedom has no value, if violence is the price,
I don't want your revolution, I want anarchy and peace...."

It was brilliant sitting in the Fox Hunt Sabateurs van, eating sandwiches with mushroom pate on them, and singing these kind of songs with 30 other wet, muddy and enthusiastic punks and hippies, determined to save not only the fox, but the world from the type of people who go foxhunting...it was as much Class War as it was animal liberationÉthe next part that means something to me is..

" But what of all those people, who dont agree with you?
Those who have their own convictions...
You say theyv'e got it wrong because they dont agree with you , so when
the revolution comes you'll have to run them through..."

Well, I guess that was the wake up part. I always thought of this in a historical sense, the butchering of the sailors at Krondstadt for example by Trotszky. I guess now, the 'running them through' could be a metaphor for any way of putting down those who 'disagree with you' - buying them, isolating them, keeping them in housing schemes, giving them valium. In the face of the dominant ideology (that ideology is dead) disagreeing these days seems more likely to be put down to disfunctional genes, or not having worked hard enough to be a success, or having had a bad childhood...there doesnt seem as much hope around as there was 20 years ago.

Tracey Whitley, Budapest, Hungary.

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"Blowing In The Wind" - Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they are forever banned?

The answer my friend
Is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?

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Brazillian Samba Music - Various Artists

* * *

I'm part of in the creativity group in the Torino Disobbedienti protest group. The creativity group started in Genova 2001 and has changed its approach a bit. Now we are working on samba. Samba began in Brazil, amongst the slaves, as a method of protest - taking to the streets. So that historical element is one of the reasons for doing it. Also, we can't imagine any songs or music other than samba, that can be so communicative, can as effectively bring people together in politics and action.

Samba is not based so much on the content as the old and popular Italian tradition of politically conscious 'cantautori' songs, but much more on the capacity of music to create a community, or to make people to feel good together. It's much more of a practice, a music that makes you feel the revolution inside yourself, rather than stimulating your analytical thinking. So it's completely different from our tradition of revolutionary songs. Those songs were a tool that made you feel part of a history, part of a big group, where everybody is listening to the same songs and everybody feels the same way, about being revolutionary people. Samba is a way of communicating with other people, It's a way of creating unity and at the same time being creative, because it's not just samba, it's samba combined with action.

It's certainly a different thing to express yourself by singing at a demonstration. As the Disobbedienti did a few years ago when setting up of the 'theatre of conflict' with the police, incorporating samba creates a different way to express ourselves. It's important for our continuation to change the way of creating these conflicts.

Elio Gilardi , Torino, Italy.

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"Bobby McGee" - Janis Joplin

* * *

I welcome the revival of the Situationist movement, it's always valid.

Edith Burtensham, London, England.

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"Boom!" - System of a Down

* * *

This is a song against the war in Iraq.

Richard Glettler & Klaus Dobbler, Austria

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"Born To Be Wild" - Steppenwolf

* * *

Typical song for the students' movement in 1968.

Klaus Dobbler, Austria

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"Cap In Hand" - The Proclaimers

* * *

"We fight - when they ask us,
We boast - then we cower,
We beg, for a piece of What's already ours.
I can't understand why we let someone else rule our land
We're cap in hand."

Martin, Austria.

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"Clandestino" - Manu Chao

Solo voy con mi pena
sola va mi condena
correr es mi destino
para burlar la ley
Perdido en el corazón
de la grande Babylon
me dicen el clandestino

por no llevar papel
Pa' una ciudad del norte
yo me fui a trabajar,
mi vida la deje
entre Ceuta y Gibraltar.
Soy una raya en el mar
fantasma en la ciudad
mi vida va prohibida
dice la autoridad

Solo voy con mi pena
sola va mi condena
correr es mi destino
por no llevar papel
Perdido en el corazón
de la grande Babylon
me dicen el clandestino
yo soy el quiebra ley

Mano Negra clandestina,
Peruano clandestino,
Africano clandestino,
Marijuana ilegal.

Solo voy con mi pena
sola va mi condena
correr es mi destino
para burlar la ley
Perdido en el corazón
de la grande Babylon
me dicen el clandestino
por no llevar papel

Argelino clandestino,
Nigeriano clandestino,
Boliviano clandestino,
Mano Negra ilegal.

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"Coffin For The Head Of State" - Fela Kuti

Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, amen
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen amen amen
By the grace of almighty lord
Amen amen amen
In spiritu heavinus
Amen amen amen
Allah Wakubar Mohammed Salamalekum
Amen amen amen
I say I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
I go many places
Waka waka waka
I see my people
Waka waka waka
Them dey cry cry cry
Waka waka waka
So I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
Through Jesus Christ our lord
Amen amen amen
By the grace of almighty lord
Amen amen amen
I waka many village anywhere in Africa
Pastor's house na him dey fine pass
My people them dey stay for poor surroundings
Pastor's dress na him dey clean pass
E hard for my people for them to buy soap
Pastor na him them give respect pass
And them go dey do bad bad things
Through Jesus Christ our lord
Amen amen amen
By the grace of almighty lord
Amen amen amen
In spiritu heavinus
Amen amen amen
Allah Wakubar Mohammed Salamalekum
Amen amen amen
So I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
I go many places
Waka waka waka
I go business places
Waka waka waka
I see see see
Waka waka waka
All the bad bad bad things
Waka waka waka
Them dey do do do
Waka waka waka
Them dey call corruption
Waka waka waka
Them dey call nepotism
Waka waka waka
Inside commotion
Waka waka waka
And inside all kinds of business
Waka waka waka
I see see see
Waka waka waka
So I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
I waka many business anywhere in Africa
North and South them get them policies
One Christian, the other one Moslem
Anywhere the Moslems them they reign
Na Senior Alhaji na him be Director
Anywhere the Christians them they reign
Na the friend of Bishop na him be Director
It's a known fact for many thousand years
We Africans we had our traditions
These moneymaking organizations
Them come put we Africans in total confusion
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
By the grace of almighty lord
Amen amen amen
In spiritu heavinus Allah wakubar
Amen amen amen
So I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
I go many places
Waka waka waka
I go government places
Waka waka waka
I see see see
Waka waka waka
All the bad bad bad things
Waka waka waka
Them dey do do do
Waka waka waka
Look Obasanjo! Before anything at all, he go dey shout:
Oh Lord! Oh Lord, almighty Lord!
And them go dey do all bad bad bad things
Through Jesus Christ our Lord
Amen amen amen
Look Yar'Adua! Before anything at all, he go dey shout:
Allah Allah Allah Allah!
And them go dey do bad bad bad things
Through Mohammed our Lord
Amen amen amen
So I waka waka waka
Waka waka waka
I go government places
Waka waka waka
I see all the bad bad things
Waka waka waka
Wey them they do do do
Waka waka waka
Them steal all the money
Waka waka waka
Them kill many students
Waka waka waka
Burn many houses
Waka waka waka
Them burn my house too
Waka waka waka
Them kill my Mama
Waka waka waka
So I carry the coffin
Waka waka waka
Movement of the people
Waka waka waka
Them waka waka with me
Waka waka waka
Young african pioneers
Waka waka waka
Them waka waka with me
Waka waka waka
We go Obalende
Waka waka waka
We go Dodan Barracks
Waka waka waka
We reache the gate-o
Waka waka waka
We put the coffin down
Waka waka waka
Obasanjo dey there
Waka waka waka
With hm big fat stomach
Waka waka waka
Yar'Adua dey there
Waka waka waka
With him neck like ostrich
Waka waka waka
We put the coffin down
Waka waka waka
Them no want take am
But them take am
Na the bad bad things
But them take am
Wey them don do
But them take am
Obasanjo take am
But them take am
Yar'Adua carry am
But them take am
E dey there now now
But them take am
E dey for them office
But them take am

* * *

Fela, the Nigerian protest singer was introduced to me by my friend Martin, who brought home a cd from a trip to Cambodia. There is no special relation of this music to any political activities in my life, I just like the music and I like that my friend likes it too.

Henrik Mayer, Dresden, Germany.

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"Everybody Knows" - Leonard Cohen.

* * *

Ok ..let me think...Yes "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen. Because to me it represents a quiet but powerful way to say that things are different in respect to the common ways that people are used to thinking...

Giuliano Girelli, Torino, Italy.

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"Fight The Power" - Public Enemy. (Shocklee, Sadler, Ridenhour)

1989 the number another summer (get down)
Sound of the funky drummer
Music hittin' your heart cause I know you got sould
(Brothers and sisters, hey)
Listen if you're missin' y'all
Swingin' while I'm singin'
Givin' whatcha gettin'
Knowin' what I know
While the Black bands sweatin'
And the rhythm rhymes rollin'
Got to give us what we want
Gotta give us what we need
Our freedom of speech is freedom or death
We got to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power

As the rhythm designed to bounce
What counts is that the rhymes
Designed to fill your mind
Now that you've realized the prides arrived
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
from the heart
It's a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothin's strange
People, people we are the same
No we're not the same
Cause we don't know the game
What we need is awareness, we can't get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved lets get down to business
Mental self defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
Make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say...
Fight the Power

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
Simple and plain
Mother fuck him and John Wayne
Cause I'm Black and I'm proud
I'm ready and hyped plus I'm amped
Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
Don't worry be happy
Was a number one jam
Damn if I say it you can slap me right here
(Get it) lets get this party started right
Right on, c'mon
What we got to say
Power to the people no delay
To make everybody see
In order to fight the powers that be
(Fight the Power)

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"Flag Day" - The Housemartins.

Too many Florence Nightingales
Not enough Robin Hoods
Too many halos not enough heroes
Coming up with the goods

So you thought you'd like to change the world
Decided to stage a jumble sale
For the poor for the poor

Its a waste of time if you know what they mean
Try shaking a box in front of the Queen
'Cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams
Its a waste of time if you know what they mean

Too many hands in too many pockets
Not enough hands on hearts
Too many ready to call it a day
Before the day starts

So you thought you'd like to see them healed
Got Blue Peter to stage an appeal
For the poor for the poor

* * *

Your request made me think of lots of songs and writers. I went through many of the obvious ones, which only mean something to me in a broad cultural sense, rather than through a true personal connection. But after a while I thought again of a band who were wearing their politics on their sleeve at a time when I was not so engaged in politics, but I did like their music. The band were The Housemartins and the album was 'Hull 4 London 0'. When I got their album for Christmas (it was the year I got a record player as a present) I played it and played it, singing without complete understanding along to the lyrics. But there is a clarity to the lyrics which makes it difficult to be completely without knowledge of what they were on about, and I guess I liked that too. I found the lyrics to Flag Day and they are still great: - It's a waste of time if you know what they mean Try shaking a box in front of the Queen 'Cause her purse is fat and bursting at the seams It's a waste of time if you know what they mean The album was released in '86, I was twelve, it was the end of the Miners' strikes in Britain, Thatcher must have been well into her second term in office, and these guys from Hull were on Top of the Pops, which makes them a bit different to the likes of The Gang of Four, who had some of the same concerns but I don't think ever got on TV. Britain was heading somewhere very dark, which I don't think it has escaped from although the lights appear to be back on. It is even worth wondering how you get from Hull 4 London 0 to the current incarnations of Norman Cooke and Paul Heaton - I guess the score has changed in more ways than one!

Lesley Young, Malmo, Sweden.

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"Fuck and Run" - Liz Phair

* * *

This song to me talks about how men use women for sex, but how it's so ingrained in the culture that women just buy into it, even though it hurts them because they feel they have no choice. This social idea needs to change!!!

Lisa Urmston, California, USA.

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"Get Up Stand Up" - Bob Marley

* * *

In the eighties I was very affected by Bob Marley's "Get Up Stand Up," which represented the idea of continuing struggle. It emanated from a place other than my own but it was a pretty much universal song. Bob Marley is fantastic and it's a fantastic song. I used a clip from it in a piece that I did in 1979-81 called "On the Cusp of the Eighties," a performance that was about resistance. Among other things, I put together a collage of sounds on the soundtrack and that was one of the pieces.

Martha Rosler, New York, USA.

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"Ghost Town" - The Specials

This town (town) is coming like a ghost town
All the clubs have been closed down
This place (town) is coming like a ghost town
Bands won't play no more
Too much fighting on the dance floor

(A-la-la ...)

Do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?
We danced and sang as the music played in any boomtown

This town (town) is coming like a ghost town
Why must the youth fight against themselves?
Government leaving the youth on the shelf
This place (town) is coming like a ghost town
No job to be found in this country
Can't go on no more
The people getting angry

(A-la-la ...)

This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town
This town is coming like a ghost town

* * *

This would be number 2, a brilliant song which to me signalled the first major downward slide thanks to Thatcher.

Ian Ramsay, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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"God Save The Queen" - Sex Pistols

God save the queen
the fascist regime
they made you a moron
a potential h-bomb

god save the queen
she ain't no human being there is no future in england's dreamland bridge

don't be told what you want
don't be told what you need
there's no future there's no future
there's no future for you

god save the queen
we mean it man
we love our queen
god saves

god save the queen
cos tourists are money
and our figurehead
is not what she seems

god save history
god save your mad parade
oh lord god have mercy
all crimes are paid

When there's no future how can there be sin
we're the flowers in the dustbin
we're the poison in your human machine
we're the future you're future

god save the queen
we mean it man
there is no future
in england's dreaming

no future
no future
no future for you

no future
no future
no future for me

no future
no future
no future for me

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"Halloween in Ostberlin" - Silly

Der Osten is ne Reise wert
den sollten sie besuchen
hier gibts noch n Stück
vom neuen deutschen Kuchen
die Rosinen sind schon weg
das macht ihn etwas trocken
doch in mancher Treu-hinter-hand
klebt noch ein fetter Brocken

Die Ossis, die sind lall und mall
vom Plunder und vom Fusel
wenn die mal aus dem Koma sind
kommt das kalte Gruseln
Sie schlagen sich die Köpfe ein
mit ihren Stasi-Akten
derweil wir mitten auf dem Platz
die letzten Ferkel schlachten

Halloween in Ostberlin
hier schwoofen die Gespenster
Halloween in Ostberlin
hier füllt man sich die Wänster
Halloween in Ostberlin die schaurigsten Gestalten
Halloween in Ostberlin Gut drauf und wohlbehalten
die Neuen und die Alten

Dann räumen sie von ganz allein
die Buden und die Posten
und wir ziehn weiter mit Geheul
zum nächsten Fest gen Osten
Da tobt auch schon die Klopperei
und wir, die guten Geister
ziehn denen auch das Hemd vom Arsch
nur flinker noch und dreister

Der Osten ist ne Reise wert
den sollten sie besuchen
kein schöner Land hier weit und breit
zum Zochen und zum Spuken

Halloween in Ostberlin
hier schwoofen die Gespenster
Halloewen in Ostberlin
hier füllt man sich die Wänster
Halloween in Ostberlin
die schaurigsten Gestalten
Halloween in Ostberlin
Gut drauf und wohlbehalten
die Neuen und die Alten

* * *

Silly, a rockband from East Berlin, had a critical position towards the system change and the reunion of the two German states. The song was published in 1992 . It holds up a mirror to the situation in East Germany shortly after the political changes. Songs like this and of course my personal experiences opened my eyes to see the unfairness and the hypocritical help for the new federal states of Germany. I was 11 years when the 'peaceful revolution' happened. To me it seemed to be fantastic. That's what we wanted. All these things we had now and we were allowed to do. I believed that everything would get better - but nothing turned good. Some years passed and I started to get a different view of the reunion. A lot of relatives and friends lost their jobs. Western companies came, opened up external businesses in the East or bought the old manufacturers with lots of financial support from the state and ended up closing them down. The money from the state went elsewhere. A real halloween - party. And it goes on.

Sylvie Linke, Leipzig

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"Imagine" - John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

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

You may say I'm a dreamer
| But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

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"I'm So Bored With The U.S.A." - The Clash

* * *

All songs by The Clash are recommendable for your purpose.

Werner, Graz, Austria.

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"It Says Here" - Billy Bragg

It says here that the unions will never learn
It says here that the economy is on the upturn
And it says here we should be proud that we are free
And our free press reflects our democracy

Those braying voices on the right of the house
Are echoed down the street of shame
Where politics mix with bingo and tits
In a strictly money and numbers game

Where they offer you a feature on stockings and suspenders
Next to a call for stiffer penalties for sex offenders

It says here that this year's prince is born
It says here do you ever wish that you were better informed
And it says here that we can only stop the rot
With a large dose of law and order and a touch of the short sharp shock

If this does not reflect you view you should understand
That those who own the papers also own this land
And they'd rather you believe in coronation street capers
In the war of circulation, it sells newspapers

Could it be an infringement of the freedom of the press
To print pictures of women in states of undress

When you wake up to the fact that you newspaper is tory
Just remember, there are two sides to every story

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"Kerosene" - Big Black.

I was born in this town
Live here my whole life
Probably come to die in this town
Live here my whole life
Never anything to do in this town
Live here my whole life
Never anything to do in this town
Live here my whole life
Probably learn to die in this town
Live here my whole life
Nothing to do, sit around at home
Sit around at home, stare at the walls
Stare at each other and wait till we die
Stare at each other and wait till we die
Probably come to die in this town
Live here my whole life
There's Kerosene around, something to do
There's Kerosene around, she's something to do
There's Kerosene around, she's something to do
There's Kerosene around, we'll find something to do
Kerosene around, she's something to do
Kerosene around, set me on fire
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire
Kerosene around, something to do
There's Kerosene around, find something to do
There's Kerosene around, find something to do
Kerosene around, find something to do
Kerosene around, she's something to do
Kerosene around, set me on fire
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire
Kerosene around, she's something to do
Kerosene around, now what do we do?
Jumped Kerosene, now what do we do?
Jumped Kerosene, now what do we do?
Kerosene around, nothing to do
Jumped Kerosene, now what do we do?
Never anything to do in this town
Never anything but jump Kerosene
Never anything to do in this town
Never anything
Jump Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire, Kerosene
Set me on fire

* * *

It wasn't the lyrics so much that impressed me at age fifteen. It was this strange guitar sound, that sounded more like a tearing steel rope than an electrical guitar I knew from Status Quo or Slade. That sound could drive you wild but in a way it has also a pessimistic attitude that doesn't lead the aggression from the inside to the outside. It's the moment right before the explosion or a still picture of it. "Set me on fire, Kerosene". But the lyrics were also perfect for English beginners, what a dark hymn! My hometown Völklingen was beginning to die at that time. The government decided not to support the iron and steel industry anymore and thousands of workers were disengaged. So the city was becoming a ghost town with enormous, rusty industry complexes that still formed the atmosphere inside the city. Sometimes the sky was yellow during the day, orange at night and the cars were covered with an inch thick layer of dust. Probably I forgot most of the boredom we had as kids, times that had nothing special are hard to remember, aren't they? After listening to mainstream pop and rock music in the early eighties, that sound was a revolutuion for me! All that noise! I remember visting my best friend at his place and when I was opening the door to his room this unbelievable burst of noise coming out! It was "Psychocandy" by "The Jesus and Mary Chain". I'm not sure, that noise or pure sound can be a political statement but it definitely had an effect on me. But noise can have two almost opposite effects. It's like listing to Merzbow (a contemporary Japanese noise artist) for an hour: either you're about to destroy the hifi-set or you'll be losing yourself in a psychedelic maelstrom.

"Boredom is always counterrevolutionary."
Guy Debord

Oliver Schneider, Berlin, Germany

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"Let the Sunshine In" From the musical "Hair"

* * *

Always reminds me of singing this song in the park with old friends and feeling the power of a community. Typical song against the Gulf war. Rebellion against the narrow-minded society!

Regina Schworzl, Austria.

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"Life is Life" - Opus.

* * *

I must have been between 5 and 8 and on a summer vacation in France. In the evenings we'd gather with 4 children outside the house, singing, shouting and performing this song, playing air-guitar on tennis rackets. We didn't understand a word of the lyrics but nevertheless were absolutely obsessed by the melody of this summer's hit. This is one of the most politically relevant characteristics of pop-songs for me: you do not even need to understand them, they communicate within the (society's) subconscious realm. I heard this song again last year and imagining ordinary people in the streets, in banks, in the tram singing those lyrics made it an overly political track to me. That for the second important fact about political relevance in pop-songs: taking a song seriously and literally makes it a political statement of that specific time and reveals a certain state of mind, reveals its affirmative or compensating functions (as this one).

Inga kaleezimprich, Amsterdam, Holland.

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"Macht Kaputt Was Euch Kaputt Macht" - Ton Steine Scherben

* * *

A Militant song.

Kolo, Austria.

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"Master and Servant" - Depeche Mode.

There's a new game
We like to play you see
A game with added reality
You treat me like a dog
Get me down on my knees

We call it master and servant
We call it master and servant

It's a lot like life
This play between the sheets
With you on top and me underneath
Forget all about equality

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant

It's a lot like life
And that's what's appealing
If you despise that throwaway feeling
From disposable fun
Then this is the one

Domination's the name of the game
In bed or in life
They're both just the same
Except in one you're fulfilled
At the end of the day

Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant
Let's play master and servant
Come on master and servant

* * *

I used this song in a installation i made for my solo show in paris 2002. The installation featured 2 projections in 2 different rooms. In one video i sang the song as it is with the real music - formally it looked like a official dicourse from the Pentagon, the other video showed a popular band from Romania, that sang the same song but very distanced and wth very bad English. They were playing in a restaurant in Marosvasarhely. You may know this song from 1984, and that it caused a real hysteria among the public, fans, and created a questioning about political implications of the band. In fact was in 1983 that Depeche Mode started their real career with 'People are People' - a very strong song (visually also the clip) that launched them in the middle of racism, differences, religion, sex and social debates about these influences in the music and mass entertainment.

Mircea Cantor, Paris, France.

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"Meat Is Murder" - The Smiths (Morrissey / Marr)

Heifer whines could be human cries
Closer, comes the screaming knife
This beautiful creature must die
This beautiful creature must die
A death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder

And the flesh you so fancifully fry, is not succulent, tasty, or kind
It's death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder
And the calf that you carve with a smile ... is murder
And the turkey you festively slice ... is murder
Do you know how animals die?

Kitchen aroma's ... aren't very homely... It's not comforting, cheery, or kind
It's sizzling blood, and the unholy stench of murder
It's not natural, normal, or kind ... the flesh you so fancifully fry
The meat in your mouth as you savor the flavor of murder

No, no, no ... it's murder... no, no, no ... it's murder
Who hears when animals cry?


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"My Metrocard" - Le Tigre

* * *

"Fuck Giuliani, He's such a fucking jerk..."

Andreas Fogarasi, Vienna, Austria.

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"Peat Bog Soldiers" - Pete Seeger

* * *

I remember when I was a young teenager hearing Pete Seeger sing "Peat Bog Soldiers". It taught me something about history and made me very curious about oppression in Europe before my lifetime.

Martha Rosler, New York, USA.

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"Play a Giron" - Silvio Rodriguez.

* * *

I studied fine arts in Lima, Peru. During my years in the university(1985-89), me and my friends used to meet to sing songs of Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes, they were part of the group of singer of "Trova Cubana" (Cuban Poem). So we organized parties in our houses, at that time, there was a curfew, because of the terrorist attacks of "Sendero Luminoso", so our parties went on all night, I remember me an my friends playing guitars and singing with the windows open until early the next morning, and I remember in particular the song by Silvio Rodriguez: "Play a Giron".

Maria Maria, Madrid, Spain

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"Power To The People" - John Lennon.

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people right on

Say you want a revolution
We'd better get it on right away
Well let's get on your feet
And into the street, singing:
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people right on

A million workers working for nothing
You better give them what they really own
We gotta put you down
When we come into town, singing:

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people right on on

I gotta ask you comrades and brothers
How do you treat your old woman back home?
She's gotta be herself
So she can free herself, singing:

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people right on on

Oh well, power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people right on

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"Redemption Song" - Bob Marley

Oh pirates, yes they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit

But my hand was made strong
by the hand of the almighty
he fought in this generation
triumphantly

Won't you help to sing,
These songs of freedom,
'cos all I ever had
(was) Redemption songs,

emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
'cos none of them can stop the time

How long will they kill our prophets
while we stand around and look?
some say it's just a part of it
we got's to fulfill the book

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"Red Flag" - Robert Wyatt

The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high.

Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

Look round, the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise,
In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung
Chicago swells the surging throng.
It waved above our infant might,

When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.
It well recalls the triumphs past,
It gives the hope of peace at last;

The banner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right and human gain.
It suits today the weak and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place
To cringe before the rich man's frown,

And haul the sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered swear we all
To bear it onward till we fall;
Come dungeons dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.

* * *

Clemans Stecher, Vienna, Austria.

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"Revolution" - The Beatles.

* * *

It's not a particularly fierce song, but the anti-violence sentiment is a still relevant caution to those who would replace a regime with no thought to what will follow.

Mark Wilson, Scotland.

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"Se Ti Tagliassero a Pezzetti" - Fabrizio De Andre

* * *

This song is dedicated to freedom, fantasy and anarchy... in a poetical wonderful way.

Maurizio & Ilaria, Italy

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"Shipbuilding" - Robert Wyatt (Elvis Costello)

Is it worth it
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy's birthday
It's just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we'll be shipbuilding

Well I ask you
The boy said "Dad they're going to make me to task
But I'll be back by christmas"
It's just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding

With all the will in the world

Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls

It's just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks they'll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin
Once again

It's all we're skilled in
We will be shipbuilding

With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls

It's all we're skilled in
We will be shipbuilding

With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls

* * *

Dominic Hislop, Berlin, Germany

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"Southern Man" - Neil Young.

* * *

Angry, passionate, ironic call for overdue reform and abandonment of racism in the deep south of USA.

Mark Wilson, Scotland.

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"Straight Edge" - Minor Threat

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and fuck my head
Hang out with the living dead
Snort white shit up my nose
Pass out at the shows
I don't even think about speed
That's something I just don't need

I've got the straight edge

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and smoke dope
'Cause I know I can cope
Laugh at the thought of eating ludes
Laugh at the thought of sniffing glue
Always gonna keep in touch
Never want to use a crutch

I've got the straight edge

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"Subterrainian Homesick Blues" - Bob Dylan.

Johnny's in the basement Mixin' up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinkin' 'bout the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off.
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coonskin cap
By the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten.

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' at the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early may
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
No matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "no doz''
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You dont need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows.

Get sick, get well
Hand around an ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anythin' is gonna sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army if you fail.
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But losers, cheaters
Six time users
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the pawkin' meters.

Ah, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to by a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
An' they put you on the day shift.
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try t'avoid the scandals
Don't wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
Cause the vandals took the handles.


* * *

When I was coming of age, as they say, it was a time of great cultural ferment. The music of the sixties profoundly impacted my life - so many songs and artists. Most influential,however, was Bob Dylan. There are too many songs to list - but, if I have to pick one, as you request, I will pick two. Ornery, huh? Subterranian Homesick Blues, which I listened to over and over to decipher and learn the words. They are still with me, of course. Give it a listen - if only people understood it fully, even now. And then, When the Ship Comes In. It couldn't be more obvious...could it.

Michael Albert (ZNet / Z Magazine), USA.

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"Suggestion" - Fugazi.

* * *

"Suffer your ways, your minds, your hands, suffer your interpretations of what it is to be a man" Fugazi have slogans: "you are not what you own" - and Fugazi have principles - no interviews with magazines that advertise alcohol or tobacco, all ages cheap shows - no alcohol - and that is what makes them political. They have refused to be subsumed within consumerism, and they have groaned and yelled and protested, but what has made Fugazi a crucial part of my life for ten years is the ability of their music to resurrect the defeated part of me and challenge the oppressive cliches about the way the world is. "What it is to be a man" is the space from which all challenges begin, from what Foucalt called the fascism of everyday life, where we are tought to aspire to the terms of power that destroy us ("I want to fuck hot chicks and drive a red sports car"), to the idea that all politics is inherently a dirty end-game of mendacity and "interest". "D.C. Hardcore" ö punk music from Washington D.C. - was marked by a do it yourself experimental practice that in essence is political. Though Fugazi never got involved with parties or elections, they have continually spoken and acted as if they had the right to effect the conditions of the world around them, and it's contagious, this energy. What we have all surrendered to corrupt dictators (USA) or bureacratic administration (Europe) is exactly that, our inherent possibillity to claim and participate in the public realm around us. Protest is inadequate. We are not on the outside looking in. The old banner "another world is possible" is plainly wrong. We only have this one, it is our's, we must claim it in action, by each of affirmatively building new structures, challenging the corrupt ones, and resisting, and it hurts and it's hard and your anger is legitimate, your outrage is proof that you've not been reduced to a numbed automoton - that's what Fugazi means to me.

Jeremiah Day, Amsterdam, Holland.

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"Talking About Revolution" - Tracey Chapman

* * *

Zoe, Graz, Austria

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"Tea for the Tillerman" - Cat Stevens.

* * *

When I was teenager the dictator Franco life yet, and Spain was a closed land. During that time I discovered Cat Stevens. I didn't know English, so I didn't understand the songs. But it was very important for me: with the record "Tea for the Tillerman" I discovered a new world, filled with hippies, freedom, etc. At 17 I let grow my hair and begin to paint and to write. Democracy was came a year later in Spain (1978).

Tomás Ruiz-Rivas, Madrid, Spain.

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"Tears of Rage" - Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel.

We carried you in our arms
On Independence Day,
And now you'd throw us all aside
And put us on our way.
Oh what dear daughter 'neath the sun
Would treat a father so,
To wait upon him hand and foot
And always tell him, "No"?
Tears of rage, tears of grief,
Why must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know
We're so alone
And life is brief.

We pointed out the way to go
And scratched your name in sand,
Though you just thought it was nothing more
Than a place for you to stand.
Now, I want you to know that while we watched,
You discover there was no one true.
Most ev'rybody really thought
It was a childish thing to do.
Tears of rage, tears of grief,
Must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know
We're so low
And life is brief.

It was all very painless
When you went out to receive
All that false instruction
Which we never could believe.
And now the heart is filled with gold
As if it was a purse.
But, oh, what kind of love is this
Which goes from bad to worse?
Tears of rage, tears of grief,
Must I always be the thief?
Come to me now, you know
We're so low
And life is brief.

* * *

Dylan's 'Tears of Rage' is an incredible song that questions a devotion to America and asks why isn't the flag here to protect me when I was there for my country. And it does it in a very subtle, complex way. It's not just chanting 'no war', it's done in a way that the lyrics have a lot of depth and as a song it's a beautiful song. It tells a story and it has a narrative, and those kinds of songs, regardless of what they're about stand up artistically and musically but they also function as a rallying piece of art or rallying piece of music. I think that Dylan was a master of putting these ideas into narratives. Personally I have a lot more interest in those kinds of songs than for example, Lennon's 'Give Peace a Chance' which I think is just basically a protest marching kind of thing.

Geoff Farina, Rhode Island, USA.

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"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" - Gil Scott Heron.

You will not be able to stay home brother
you will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
you will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip
skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be televised
the revolution will not be brought to you by xerox
in 4 parts without commercial interruption
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell,
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog moss
confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre
and will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner
because The revolution will not be televised brother
There will be no pictures of you and Willie Mays
pushing that cart down the block on the dead run
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able to predict the winner at 8:32
or the count from 29 districts
The revolution will not be televised
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down brothers in the instant replay
There will be no pictures of young being run out of Harlem
a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens
strolling through Watts in a red, black and green liberation jumpsuit
that he had been saving for just the right occasion
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and Hooterville Junction
will no longer be so damned relevant
and women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane on Search for Tomorrow
because black people will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised
there will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock news
and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones,
Johnny Cash, Engelbert Humperdinck of The Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be right back after a message about a white tornado,
white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a germ in your bedroom,
the tiger in your tank, or the giant in you toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight germs that can cause bad breath
The revolution WILL put you in the driver's seat
The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers The revolution will be live--

* * *

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this political song meant so much to me. A combination of the satire on how television affects society, how media controls our lives, a warning against apathy and for a political song, a pretty funky tune. At the time of its release, this really was a pretty revolutionary recording, a call for action, to be watchful not to be hoodwinked or appeased by what was on the television at the time. Times have however changed and any revolution these days would not only be televised available on a vast majority of channels 24 hours a day, there would be a fair chance you would be paying in some way to view it. That said, anything truly 'revolutionary' (in a non-media friendly sense, ie not involving petrol bomb throwing hoardes) will probably be avoided by the media. The anti-globalisation and anti-war movements amongst others will always be distanced/controlled at arm's length by the vast majority of the media. This song went on to be an inspiration for the rap movement and the likes of Scott Heron and the Last Poets are widely regarded as precursors of the genre.

Ian Ramsay, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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"They Are Afraid of Saint Nicholas" - Plastic People of the Universe

* * *

Protest song against the Communist government of Czechslovakia (about 1968/69)

Harry Baloch, Austria

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"2+2=5 or The Lukeworm" - Radiohead

Are you such a dreamer?
To put the world to rights?
I'll stay home forever
Where two & two always
makes up five
I'll lay down the tracks
Sandbag & hide
January has April's showers
And two & two always
makes up five
It's the devil's way now
There is no way out
You can scream & you
can shout
It is too late now
Because
You have not been
paying attention
I try to sing along
I get it all wrong
Ezeepeezeeeezeepeeezee
NOT
I swat em like flies but
Like flies the burgers
Keep coming back
NOT
Maybe not
"All hail to the thief"
"But I am not!"
"Don't question my authority
or put me in the dock"
Cozimnot!
Go & tell the king that
The sky is falling in
When it's not
Maybe not.

* * *

No comment.

Silvia Enrietti, Torino, Italy.

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"Union Maid" - Woody Guthrie

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid,
of goons and ginks and company finks,
and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
and when the Legion boys come 'round
she always stood her ground.

(Chorus)
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
she couldn't be fooled by a company stool,
she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard, and this is what she'd say:

(Chorus)

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me,
Get you a man who's a union man
and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

(Chorus x 2)

* * *

Woody Guthrie is the greatest American singing protestor. I'm especially thinking of the one whose chorus goes, [I think, from memory] "Oh you can't scare me, I'm stickin' to the union, I'm sticking to the union, til the day I die". The guitar work is great too. You can do it with one or several and sing the song solo or in parts.

Susan George (Attac), France.

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"What's Goin' On" - Marvin Gaye

Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying
You know we'ver got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, hey

Father, father, we don't need to escalate
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh what's going on, what's going on
Yeah, what's going on, ah, what's going on
Ahhh....

Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong
Ah but who are they to judge us
Simply 'cos our hair is long
Ah you know we'ver got to find a way
To brind some understanding here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
What's going on, yeah what's going on
Tell me what's going on, I'll tell you what's going on

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"When the Ship Comes In" - Bob Dylan.

Oh the time will come up when the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be a-breathin
Like the stillness in the wind before the hurricane begins,
The hour that the ship comes in
And the sea will split and the ships will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking
And the tide will sound and the waves will pound
And the morning will be a-breaking

Oh the fishes will laugh as they swim out of the path
And the seagulls will be a-smilin'
And the rocks on the sand will proudly stand
The hour that the ship comes in
And the words that are used for to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they're spoken
Oh the chains of the sea will have busted in the night
And be buried on the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift as the main sail shifts
And the boat drifts unto the shoreline
And the sun will respect every face on the deck
The hour that the ship comes in
And the sands will roll out a carpet of gold
For your wearied toes to be a-touchin'
And the ship's wise men will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin'

Oh the foes will rise with the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And they'll know that it's for real,
The hour that the ship comes in
And they'll raise their hands
Sayin' we'll meet all you demands
But we'll shout from the bow
Your days are numbered And like Pharoah's tribe they'll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath they'll be conquered

* * *

When I was coming of age, as they say, it was a time of great cultural ferment. The music of the sixties profoundly impacted my life -- so many songs and artists. Most influential,however, was bob dylan. There are too many songs to list - but, if I have to pick one, as you request, I will pick two. Ornery, huh? Subterranian Homesick Blues, which I listened to over and over to decipher and learn the words. They are still with me, of course. Give it a listen -- if only people understood it fully, even now. And then, When the Ship Comes In. It couldn't be more obvious...could it.

Michael Albert (ZNet / Z Magazine), USA.

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"What You Do With What You've Got" - Dick Gaughan (Si Kahn)

You must know someone like him
He was tall and strong and lean
With a body like a greyhound
And a mind so sharp and keen
But his heart, just like a laurel,
Grew twisted round itself
Till almost every thing he did
Caused pain to someone else

It's not just what you're born with
It's what you choose to bear
It's not how big your share is
But how much you can share
And it's not the fights you dreamed of
But those you really fought It's not what you've been given
It's what you do with what you've got

Now what's the good of two strong legs
If you only run away?
And what use is the finest voice
If you've nothing good to say?
And what good is strength and muscle
If you only push and shove?
And what's the use of two good ears
If you can't hear those you love?

Between those who use their neighbours
And those who use a cane
Between those in constant power
And those in constant pain
Between those who run to evil
And those who cannot run
Tell me which ones are the cripples
And which ones touch the sun?

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"Where Have All The Flowers Gone" Pete Seeger

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Gone to young girls, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone to young men, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young men gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone to soldiers, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?
And where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the soldiers gone, a long time ago?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, every one!
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

And where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, every one!
When will they ever learn, oh when will they ever learn?

* * *

That was at the time when I was admiring the older ones who were able to play the guitar, sitting at the bonfire. I never learned to play any instrument and that feeling stayed somehow.

Christoph Rauch, Hamburg, Germany.

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"White Riot" - The Clash (Strummer/Jones)

White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own
White riot - I wanna riot
White riot - a riot of my own

Black people gotta lot a problems
But they don't mind throwing a brick
White people go to school
Where they teach you how to be thick

An' everybody's doing just what they're told to
An' nobody wants to go to jail!

Chorus

All the power's in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it
While we walk the street
Too chicken to even try it
Everybody's doing just what they're told to
Nobody wants to go to jail!

chorus

Are you taking over
or are you taking orders?
Are you going backwards
Or are you going forwards?

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"Whitey on the Moon" - Gil-Scott Heron.

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.
Her face and arms began to swell and Whitey's on the moon.
I can't pay no doctor bills but Whitey's on the moon.
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still while Whitey's on the moon.

The man just upped my rent last night cuz Whitey's on the moon.
No hot water, no toilets, no lights but Whitey's on the moon.
I wonder why he's uppin me. Cuz Whitey's on the moon?
I was already givin' him fifty a week but now Whitey's on the moon.

Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
The junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
And as if all that shit wasn't enough:

A rat done bit my sister Nell with Whitey on the moon.
Her face and arms began to swell but Whitey's on the moon.
Was all that money I made last year for Whitey on the moon?
How come there ain't no money here? Hmm! Whitey's on the moon.

Ya know, I just about had my fill of Whitey on the moon.
I think I'll send these doctor bills
airmail special....
to Whitey on the moon.

* * *

The first track which sprang to mind for me was "Whitey on the Moon" by Gil-Scott Heron...On hearing this as a kid and now as a grown up kid it made me realise that there was more opinion out there than the general party line and now that nothing much has changed and the struggle for basic needs for all continues...the priorities of the power elite still keep us apart.

Carlo, Leipzig, Germany.

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"Wintertime in America" - Gil Scott Heron

"The best that can be achieved is to know precisely what it was, and to endure this knowledge, and then to wait and see what comes of knowing and enduring. ... We can no more master the past than we can undo it. But we can reconsile ourselves to it. The form for this is the lament, which arises out of all recollection." ö Hannah Arendt, on the past of Germany. In the best possible scenario, the United States of America will have some sort of truth and reconciliation process in my lifetime, and perhaps Gil Scott Heron will be played. What is happenning is truly unbelievable, and it takes art to make it possible to fully inhabit the contradictions of our time, in this case, that the United States of America has come to so radically betray every promise of our founding "of the people, by the people, for the people," "with liberty and justice for all". The brutality of this doubling has only been truly percieved and known as daily fact by African-Americans, and the depth of this knowledge has led to one of the richest cultural traditions in the world, making small changes in fashion in the ghettoes of New York or Los Angeles emulated throughout the world.

Heron's music is a lamentation, and there is nothing superficial or posed about it. There truly are things to cry over these days. And as Arendt suggests, in a world of official non-facts and palpable simulations, such catharsis is not a private psychological experience. It's been said that the underlying thread of African-American culture is the yearning for political freedom, and in this way Heron's work breaks my heart and somehow sets the stage for a possible claim of my lost inheritance ö "of the people, by the people, for the people".

Jeremiah Day, Amsterdam, Holland.

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"Workers Song" - Dick Gaughan (Ed Pickford)

Come all of you workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

But when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
When we've never owned one handful of earth?

We're the first ones to starve the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

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"Working Class hero" - John Lennon.

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me
If you want to be a hero, well, just follow me

* * *

Miklos Erhardt, Budapest, Hunagry.

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"World Love" - The Magnetic Fields.

When the rhythm calls
the government falls
Here come the cops
From Tokyo to Soweto
viva la musica pop
We are black & white
and we dance all night
down at the hop
and the letters were tall
on the Berlin Wall
viva la musica pop
So If you're feeling low
stuck in some bardo
I, even I
know the solution
love, music, wine and revolution
love, love, love,
music, wine and revolution
This too shall pass
so raise your glass
to change and chance
and freedom is the only law
shall we dance…

* * *

Notes on the Protest Song

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
Nietzsche

"Music is a herald, for change is inscribed in noise faster than it transforms society… Listening to music is listening to all noise, realizing that its appropriation and control is a reflection of power, that it is essentially political."
Jacques Attali.

Noise Protest songs inspire individual action first by 'consciousness raising,' by appealing to a vague sensation of social injustice, they articulate dissent and promote change through interpollating the indivual subject as the agency of potential collective action - they make audible the spirit of change, in Hegelian and Marxist sense. But there is a contradition here in that protest songs in the traditionally dominant individual singer/songwriter mode of production therefore leave intact the notion of a unified subject, the consumer subject of late capitalism.

More recently we can point to the production of protest songs and music which deconstructs the notion of individual authorship (sampling, scratching, etc.) and therefore is not predicated on the individual as consumer, but the individual as producer. This does not simply appeal to the tranformation of the individual as agency for social change, but constitutes in practice not a rejection, but a modification of the apparatus of the capitalist mode of production. The irony is that this particular mode of production music has become dominant (recuperated) and its poltical efficacy neutralized as a result. There are no critical commodities, there are only commodities.

To return then to the 'traditional' 'protest song'. Protest songs 'appeal' not only to social change, they 'appeal' to a market. Protest songs are comodities like any other commodities. We cannot deny the fact that they are recorded, packaged and sold on the high street. Nevertheless, is it possible to regard protest songs as 'critical commodities'? If so where does the 'criticality' of this proposed 'critical commodity' come from? For the large part, protest songs gain their social and politcal efficacy from their public performance, not consumed in the home but produced in the street - this is where a protest song gains its social currency, its specific value, in fact its cultural identity as 'protest song'. They are not simply bought and sold as records, tapes and CDs to atomised individuals but chanted collectively in protest marches. Thus they are collectively produced rather than consumed. It is in this sense that they come closest to the traditional folk song (with which many protest songs share a genre). Until recently, this has principally been an oral tradition, and one which is situated outside of the apparatus of the capitalist mode of production and consumption. Rather than inhabit the economy of commodity exchange, the protest songs as a 'legacy' of a folk tradition, inhabits the symbolic logic of the gift.

Ross Birrell, Glasgow, Scotland.

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"World Turned Upside Down" - Dick Gaughan / Billy Bragg (Leon Rosselson)

In sixteen forty nine to St George's Hill
a ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the peoples' will
they defied the Landlords, they defied the laws
they were the dispossessed, reclaiming what was theirs

"we come in peace" they said, to dig and sow
we come to work the lands in common and to make the wastegrounds grow
this earth divided, we will make whole
so it will be a common treasury for all

the sin of property, we do disdain
no man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain
by theft and murder they took the land
now everywhere the walls spring up at their command

they make the laws to chain us well
the clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell
we will not worship the god they serve
the god of greed who feeds the rich while poor man starve

we work, we eat together we need no swords
we will not bow to the masters or pay rent to the lords
we are free men, though we are poor
you diggers all stand up for glory stand up now

from the men of property, the orders came
they sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers' claim
tear down their cottages, destroy their corn
they were dispersed, but still the vision lingers on

you poor take courage, you rich take care
this earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
all things in common, all people one
we come in peace, the orders came to cut them down

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