Protest songs

Admittedly another vague, catch-all title, as for the purpose of this post this could mean anti-war or civil rights songs, or a commentary on political and social events.

Here are some that moved me, loosely and perhaps contentiously arranged, starting with what is arguably the greatest of them all: ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’.

Please add to this list, including a link to the song or a line or two from the lyrics. Please also share your thoughts on any of the songs mentioned throughout.

General anti-war: Eric Burdon & The Animals, ‘Sky Pilot’; Donovan, ‘Universal Soldier’; Bob Dylan, ‘Masters of War’; Grand Funk Railroad, ‘People, Let’s Stop the War’; Pete Seeger, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’

Vietnam: The Temptations, ‘Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today)’; Paul Hardcastle, ‘Nineteen’; REM, ‘Orange Crush’; Kate Bush, ‘Pull Out the Pin’.

Other conflicts: Manic Street Preachers, ‘If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next’; Dire Straits, ‘Brothers in Arms’; Robert Wyatt, ‘Shipbuilding’; Nena, ’99 Luftballons’; U2, ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’; The Cranberries, ‘Zombie’.

Post-9/11 sentiment: Green Day, ‘American Idiot’; George Michael, ‘Shoot the Dog’; Elbow, ‘Leaders of the Free World’; Neil Young, ‘Let’s Impeach the President’; Michael Franti & Spearhead, ‘Bomb the World’.

Criticism of The System and society: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, ‘Ohio’; Lowkey, ‘Tears To Laughter’; Joe Hill, ‘Preacher and the Slave’; Rage Against the Machine, ‘Killing in the Name’; John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, ‘Woman Is the Nigger of the World’; Pierre Perret, ‘Lili’.

Civil Rights: Sam Cooke, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’; James Brown, ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud’; Billie Holiday, ‘Strange Fruit’.

A verse from ‘Strange Fruit’ to finish with – from 1939. Does any lyric grab you and shame you quite like this one?

“Strange trees bear strange fruit;
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

104 thoughts on “Protest songs”

  1. Most of those you’ve listed have moved me, sometimes even to action.

    But I was a young teenager in the 1970s, here in America and no words ever scared me or made me cry harder than the simple words:

    “Four dead in Ohio.”

    What a stupid, horrible time that was. To watch some politicians and citizens seem to yearn for those times reminds me of some kind of viral madness.

  2. A good list of great songs by very talented artists. Only one problem for me and that is most of those songs are over 20 years old and many are 40 years old.

    There’s a generation of kids out there that aren’t familiar with the concept of the protest song despite there being just as many important issues to protest about. The only protests we hear from artists these days are about music piracy or taxes being too high.

    If there are any artists reading this and really care about the state of the world they should get up, stand up and write something that really makes a difference. Where’s the 21st century’s Bob Geldof or Bob Marley?

    1. Well said, Johnny. Hear, hear.

      Would love to hear of some examples of protest songs written by, say, artists under the age of 30.

    2. Isn’t it current rap music the urban, modern form of protest ?

      I’m thinking of one of the most controversial rapper Eminem (‘Mosh’).

      Not that I appreciate or listen to rap music (but my pupils do). Rap has also become all about money and image, I think.

    3. That’s a great example – and I’m sure it encouraged people to vote.

      “Let the president answer a high anarchy
      Strap him with an AK-47, let him go fight his own war
      Let him impress Daddy that way
      No more blood for oil, we got our own battles to fight on our own soil
      No more psychological warfare to trick us to thinking that we ain’t loyal
      If we don’t serve our own country, we’re patronising a hero
      Look in his eyes, it’s all lies
      The stars and stripes, have been swiped
      Washed out and wiped
      And replaced with his own face
      Mosh now or die
      If I get sniped tonight, you’ll know why.”

    4. Pink – Dear Mr President

      This is one of my favourite songs. It’s an open letter to Bush. Pink wouldn’t allow it to be released as a single in the States because she thought it was too important to be perceived as a publicity stunt.

      “What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
      And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
      I can only imagine what the first lady has to say.
      You’ve come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.

      How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
      How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say Goodbye?
      How do you walk with your head held high?
      Can you even look me in the eye?

      Let me tell you about hard work,
      Minimum wage with a baby on the way.
      Let me tell you about hard work,
      Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away.
      Let me tell you about hard work,
      Building a bed out of a cardboard box.
      Let me tell you about hard work,
      You don’t know nothing about hard work.”

    5. Call me cynical but protest songs never achieved anything. Except increase the bank balance of the protest singers. They use the emotions of others to make money.

  3. “Don’t accept that what’s happening
    Is just a case of others’ suffering
    Or you’ll find that hou’re joining in
    The turning away.”

    “With, Without
    And who’ll deny that’s what the fighting’s all about.”

    Shall I go on?

  4. How about War Pigs by Black Sabbath? I would classify this one as general anti-war. Although this is a very catchy heavy tune and most just rock out to the song, the lyrics are quite poignant.

    “Politicians hide themselves away
    They only started the war
    Why should they go out to fight?
    They leave that role to the poor”

    The interesting contradiction is that the music for this song is so aggressive and pumps up the adrenaline.



    1. Paschendale by Iron Maiden is another. WWI must have been Hell on Earth.

      “I stand my ground for the very last time
      Gun is ready as I stand in line
      Nervous wait for the whistle to blow
      Rush of blood and over we go.

      Blood is falling like the rain
      Its crimson cloak unveils again
      The sound of guns can’t hide their shame
      And so we die on Paschendale.”

    2. Dunc, I can’t even begin to imagine how hellish WWI must have been for those poor men, most of them still boys.

      Good God, I don’t think there’s ever been a more depressing line written.

      “Whistles, shouts and more gunfire,
      Lifeless bodies hang on barbed wire.
      Battlefield nothing but a bloody tomb,
      Be reunited with my dead friends soon.”

    3. Dunc,

      Good call on the Maiden. How about Motorhead’s “No Voices In the Sky”?

      “The ones who dedicate the flags to make you brave,
      They also consecrate the headstone on your grave,
      Ritual remembrance when no one knows your name,
      Don’t help a single widow learn to fight the pain.”

      Not so sure if this song so much fits in as a protest song as much as it does on political commentary. But I do think it is some of Lemmy’s best work.



    4. Andrew,

      No Voices In the Sky is powerful musically and lyrically. I agree that it’s some of Lemmy’s best work.

      I also like the line:

      “Rich men think that happiness is a million dollar bills,
      So how come half of them O.D. on sleeping pills?”

  5. The Clash have many great protest songs. ex. “White Riot”, “Clampdown”, and of course “London Calling”. Thanks to Joe Strummer.

  6. “Strange trees bear strange fruit;
    Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
    Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
    Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”

    God, I love Billie Holliday and the above quoted lyrics move me to tears.

    One of my favourite protest songs has always been ‘Two Suns in the Sunset’ and especially this lyric: “…and as the windshield melts, and my tears evaporate, leaving only charcoal to defend”

    Good call about Paul Hardcastle’s ‘Nineteen’ and we also have Bruce Springstein’s ‘Born in the USA’ which one of the presidents foolishly used in an election campaign – they obviously did not understand the lyrical content of the aforementioned song.

    And we cannot forget Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’.

    1. There are so many excellent examples on The Final Cut alone.

      “Ashes and diamonds,
      Foe and friend,
      We were all equal in the end.”

  7. I think I will vote for ‘Sleep Now In the Fire’ by RATM.

    They seem to be the protest band of my generation, and although I freely admit I have no knowledge of most of the causes they are protesting about, you can’t argue with that rhythm. 😉

    LOL, OK, only joking.

    Unfortunately in a world where someone is always protesting about something, and particularly today where the media can bring to light every single instance of injustice or suffering – there just seems to be too much to protest about – and as such it is easy to ignore.

    Once again we will look back to the 60’s, Vietnam era, romanticising about these protest songs and movements but really, did they ever achieve anything?

    “Sleep Now In the Fire” video shoot

    On January 26, 2000, filming of the music video for “Sleep Now in the Fire”, which was directed by Michael Moore, caused the doors of the New York Stock Exchange to be closed and the band to be escorted from the site by security, after band members attempted to gain entry into the Exchange.

    Footage of enthusiastic Wall Street employees headbanging to Rage’s music was used in the final video. “We decided to shoot this video in the belly of the beast”, said Moore, who was arrested during the shooting of the video: despite having a federal permit for the location, they did not have a sound permit.

    At least these guys managed to close the stock exchange for a few hours. 😛

    I might be playing devil’s advocate here a bit, so I will leave it up to to you guys to show me how a protest song has achieved something.

    I really hope you can demonstrate something – and let’s all hope ‘Chicago’ is the catalyst to saving Gary McKinnon.

    The cynic in me unfortunately is thinking that a lot of these bands (and maybe even RATM) are just cashing in on people who seek change.

    Forget children dying in Africa every time Bonio claps his hands (cruel bastard). 😉 Let’s all line up in Downing Street and sing Killing in the Name…


    1. Once again we look back to the 60s…

      Dear Rob,

      Maybe the protest and music brought about during the Vietnam war had no effect on the outcome as you say but, many soldiers attested that the music protesting war gave them strength and hope and were happy to know that in a small way, their voices were being heard.

      Young children hearing this music may have been influenced by its message and help them to decide whether or not they love or hate in this world. These songs of protest help some individuals to deal with the inferior during times of trouble.

      I praise the music of protest or whatever as it lends its voice as to how I might feel. Very important for some of us in identifying what we would say or do. Sometimes that is all we can do is sing along and know that that is how I feel; and even though it might not change the outcome, it will change your life when you embrace the message.

  8. Dear FEd,

    Another fine topic you have chosen. I’m so glad there is another Bob Dylan fan out there. He had the lyrics did he not?

    Moody Blues – Question – do you remember that one? What a great song with powerful lyrics.

    The Final Cut is a great pick addressing this topic with numerous selections.

    This blog title is a perfect example of how music can speak the voices of our times. Musicians identifying with the out cry of a broken civilization and putting music and lyrics to the call. Just have to love what music does for ones inner being. Along with broken civilization I would have to add another Bob Dylan song – Everything is Broken. Others that I would pick come from yet another compilation I own called the Spirit of the 60’s and are as follows:

    Thunderclap Newman-Something in the Air
    Edwin Starr – War
    Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction – GREAT SONG!

    Of course the list goes on, these are just a few that have always moved me. This era really spoke the time of the days, another compilation that should be in every home in my mind for that very reason. Love, peace and protest of war.

    Thank you FEd, great topic to get folks thinking.

    Love to the World.

  9. For a Vietnam song, check out “I Was Only 19” by a band called Redgum if you can find a copy.

    Very poignant, but pretty well unknown outside of Australia.

    1. Originally this song was called “A Walk In the Light Green”. The reason was when the troops were going out on patrol they would have a look at the map, if it was dark green in meant thick jungle, lots of cover and no mines. If it was light green it meant light jungle, not much cover and LOTS of mines.

      This song was written for Mick & Frankie.

      I’d class it as a war song more than a protest song, but a great song regardless.

  10. One that I thought worked really well, at the time, was Stevie Van Zandt’s ‘Sun City’. In that, those involved actually got to practice what they preached – and that you can respect.

  11. Barry McGuire – Eve Of Destruction

    “The eastern world, it is exploding
    Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
    You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
    You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’
    And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

    But you tell me
    Over and over and over again, my friend
    Ah, you don’t believe
    We’re on the eve
    of destruction.”

  12. War by Edwin Starr hit number one on the pop charts in the US in July 1970 and still stands as an unforgettable Vietnam Era protest song… A war song wrapped in a tight R&B groove straight out of Motown. Message couldn’t be more spot on. Springsteen covered the song too.

    “War h’uh
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothing, uh-huh, oh-huh

    Listen to me
    Ooh war, I despise
    Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
    War means tears to thousands of mothers’ eyes
    When sons go off to fight and lose their lives

    It ain’t nothin’ but a heartbreaker
    Friend only to the undertaker
    Is an enemy to all mankind
    The thought of war blows my mind
    War has caused unrest
    Within the younger generation
    Induction, then destruction
    Who wants to die?”

  13. Argh… that’s a tough one for an alien… some of the songs you mentioned, I didn’t realize was protest-songs, perhaps never understood the words right.

    A few more songs comes to my mind, to add to your list:

    Sun City – Little Steven
    Buffy Sainte-Marie, I kind of liked her at one time, fx. “Now That the Buffalo Is Gone”.

    How about Sex Pistols – No Future/God Save the Queen? Is that a protest-song?

    Finally, Sting has made something, like “They Dance Alone” and “Work the Black Seem”.

    😐 Lene

    1. I’m not entirely sure that all of the ones I listed are ‘protest songs’ as such, but some certainly are and most of the the others have at least inspired the listener to protest on some level, which is good enough for me. 🙂

      Buffy Sainte-Marie also wrote ‘Universal Soldier’, I believe.

      “But without him how would Hitler have
      condemned him at Dachau?
      Without him, Caesar would have stood alone.
      He’s the one who gives his body as a weapon to a war
      And without him all this killing can’t go on.”

  14. FEd, I don’t know half the songs you listed, but I do love Kate Bush.

    How about “Army Dreamers”?

    I think the following is tragic:

    “What could he do?
    Should have been a rock star, but he didn’t have the money for a guitar.
    What could he do?
    Should have been a politician, but he never had a proper education.
    What could he do?
    Should have been a father, but he never even made it to his twenties.
    What a waste,
    Army dreamers.”

  15. One by Metallica is about a quadruple amputee from WWI who can’t see, speak, smell or hear and wants to die.

    It’s based on the novel and movie “Johnny Got His Gun”.

    1. “One” is such a powerful song and the video for the song is just as strong in its message even if it is just clips from the movie interspersed with images of the band. The extended jam version is definitely the best.



  16. All of them are or were happily part of the evil system… And have done VERY well from it… So much for the meaning of their righteous messages…

    Bob is one of the biggest hypocrite phoneys around… IMHO…

  17. Hi all and sorry lack of posting but enjoy reading.

    “Everybody’s Gone to War” by Nerina Pallot gets my vote.

    Have a good weekend

  18. Hi, FEd.

    Thanks for this interesting topic.

    I saw the list and my favorites protest songs could be

    – “If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next’ (Manic Street Preachers). I think it’s a really good song and I like psychedelic sound.

    – “Brothers in Arms”, this is one of my favorite songs, especially for solo guitar (unfortunately, now we have again in Afghanistan and other Countries many “Brothers in War”).

    Then, I think “Sunday Bloody Sunday’ it’s a big scream against violence, like “Orange Crush” too.

    Maybe “Earth Song” (Micheal Jackson) could be a protest song about defence of Nature. I love this song because it’s a positive praise to say: Save Our Planet Now!

    Other protest song could be Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Worlds Apart” (Album -“The Rising” 2002). This song talk about after 9/11. Bruce made this album to remember 9/11 victims and to protest against USA Government.

    PS: I remember also Little Steven with his song “Bitter Fruit”. Do you remember it?

    Bye, Hydrea

  19. Well, coming from Northern Ireland, protest songs can be of danger to your health if played in the wrong area to the wrong crowd… a couple of streets can make the difference here. Thankfully things have improved a whole let over the last few years… during the troubles though we had bands like The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers who didn’t write protest songs as such but more about the general crap way of life that teenagers were growing up in.

    Can anybody ever out do “Teenage Kicks”? What a guitar sound!

  20. I can still remember my brother buying this 4 track EP by Donovan in 1964/65-ish. I was very young but these incredible thought provoking songs had a massive impact on me.

    Side one

    1. “Universal Soldier”
    2. “The Ballad of a Crystal Man”

    Side two

    1. “Do You Hear Me Now?” (1:51, Bert Jansch)
    2. “The War Drags On” (Mick Softley)

  21. What kind of place are we living now?
    Watching wars live, via satellite
    You carry a gun but no smoking inside
    Escape disease yet I could get shot tonight


    The time has come and you’re all alone
    And you know you’re not dreaming
    It’s heaven’s door, you’re ringing on the bell
    Will they let you in, or you going to hell?

    I’ll take a war, I’ll take mine with fries
    Medium rare, wash a coke down with ice
    Swallow it down no time to digest
    What do you know, I’m feeling hungry again

    From ‘Soldiers Make Good Targets’ by Stereophonics.

  22. They don’t really write “traditional” protest songs, but almost the entire Anti-Flag discography’s lyrics is either anti-war or anti-Bush. They’re a sort of punk band, I quite like them, but just incase I get into bother, they do use naughty words. I couldn’t pick a personal favourite but a good example is “One Trillion Dollars“.

    There’s some music videos that really need the video to show the “protest” side of it; Disturbed’s “Land of Confusion” and Pearl Jam’s “Do The Evolution” especially. They’re about capitalism, war and how man has changed, respectively.

    One last one, I promise. Machine Head’s “Halo” is about blindly following a religion into war. Again there’s some racy stuff and naughty words.

  23. This is off topic.

    But please come do a U.S. Tour. You have hundreds of thousands of USA fans who love your solo work. North Carolina first, LOL.

    Thanks and Cheers!

  24. Hi FEd, gang,

    According to the TV programme, Belgian TV station Canvas, next week Thursday 23:40, “Later with Jools” with David.

    However, the printed programme in the TV guide and here give different guests.


  25. – Bob Dylan, ‘The Times They are A-Changin”
    – John Lennon, ‘Give Peace A Chance’ – It’s all in the title.
    – John Lennon, ‘Working Class Hero’
    – Leonard Cohen, ‘The Partisan’ – So powerful in its simplicity.

    – ‘L’Internationale’
    – Trust, ‘Antisocial’
    – Jean Ferrat, ‘Nuit Et Brouillard’
    – Boris Vian, ‘Le Déserteur’. I think Joan Baez also sang it.

    – Renaud, ‘Manhattan-Kaboul’ – The 09/11 events – A little Puerto Rican boy killed in New york, a little Afghan girl killed in Kabul, why?

    “Deux étrangers au bout du monde, si différents
    Deux inconnus, deux anonymes, mais pourtant,
    Pulvérisés, sur l’autel, de la violence éternelle.

    Les dieux, les religions,
    Les guerres de civilisation,
    Les armes, les drapeaux, les patries, les nations,
    Font toujours de nous de la chair à canon.”

    – Glad you mentioned Pierre Perret, ‘Lily’. It’s such a poignant and moving song about this little naïve immigrant girl, Lily, sadly discovering racism.

    And a beautiful glimmer of hope at the end:

    Et l’enfant qui naîtra un jour
    Aura la couleur de l’amour
    Contre laquelle on ne peut rien.”


  26. A lot of good ones have been mentioned here. Question by the Moodies is a great one.

    One I have loved is Sydney Carter’s “Crow on the Cradle.” I especially love the live version by Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, and David Lindley from the No Nukes album.

    Here is Jackson and David at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

  27. A couple by the “Oils” (Midnight Oil) that come to mind are:

    “US Forces”

    Will you know it when you see it?
    High-risk children dogs of war
    Market movements call the shots
    Business deals in parking lots
    Waiting for the meat of tomorrow.

    …and “Who Can Stand In the Way?”

    If Christ were here he’d camera check he’d cry so loud the planes would stop
    He’d cry so loud the earth would shake and men would fall in tinsel town
    There’s just one thing, yes there’s just one thing
    Who can stand in the way when there’s a dollar to be made?

  28. R.E.M. “Exhuming McCarthy” from (I think) their ‘Green’ album. It’s a slam on then-current Reagan era policies.

    U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy led a witch-hunt in the 1950s against artists, liberal thinkers, homosexuals, and other assorted people that he didn’t like. They were comparing that era with Reagan.

  29. Genesis’ Land of Confusion. The lyrics were penned by Mike Rutherford.

    I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams
    Been haunted by a million screams
    I can hear the marching feet they’re moving into the street.
    Now did you read the news today they say the danger’s gone away
    But I can see the fire’s still alight burning into the night.

    Too many men Too many people Making too many problems
    And not much love to go round
    Can’t you see this is a land of confusion.

    This is the world we live in And these are the hands we’re given
    Use them and let’s start trying To make it a place worth living in.

    Superman where are you now
    Everything’s gone wrong somehow
    The men of steel, men of power are losing control by the hour.

    This is the time This is the place So we look for the future But there’s not much love to go round. Tell me why, this is a land of confusion (repeat first chorus)

    I remember long ago When the sun was shining
    The stars were bright All through the night
    And the sound of your laughter As I held you tight So long ago

    I won’t be coming home tonight My generation will put it right
    We’re not just making promises that we know we’ll never keep.

    (repeat first pre-chorus)

    This is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given
    Use them and let’s start trying to make it a place worth fighting for.

    This is the world we live in and these are the names we’re given
    Stand up and let’s start showing just where our lives are going to

  30. What about this classic from the Beastie Boys? A much lighter topic but does it qualify as a protest song?



    1. Andrew, great song, and as I think that entertainment esp. music should be non political, I am adding this song, just fun watching it, with lots of energy:

      Billy Idol, Rebel Yell

  31. Biko from Peter Gabriel was a song that give me shivers, certainly when he, or others played it live.

    Another for all to who suffered the cruelties of Robben Island:

    No-one ever asked questions with marks as sharp as these
    They pierced the veins of Jesus who was one of the least of these
    And no-one ever gave an answer with as gentle a word as this
    You took violent indignation,
    and you killed it with a political kiss.
    And I saw the altar, of this world’s cruelty
    I saw the stadium of the devil’s goals.
    And I saw a man, duck and weave the most evil punches.
    I saw a factory of magnificent souls

    – Factory of Magnificent Souls by Iona.

    This song is so beautiful… gonna see them soon and think I’ll get wet eyes…

  32. It’s obvious but I must quote John Lennon’s “Power To the People” and “Give Peace a Chance”, I’m thinking about all the things he had been doing during those tragic years of Vietnam.

    1. Today would be John Lennon’s 69th birthday, I’m sure that we will always remember him.

      God bless you John.

  33. Since this is an Anglo-centric forum I would like to add that there are a lot of intelligent protest songs from every country. And the subjects are not only “American” problems.

    I could say that the most famous anti-war song of the sixties in Italy is from Gianni Morandi. And I personally like the Italian Group LITFIBA, which wrote extremely intelligent lyrics.

    There’s no point to write text here since no one understands Italian. So I would mention one song by Bob Marley titled “WAR”:

    “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
    And another
    Is finally
    And permanently
    And abandoned –
    Everywhere is war –
    Me say war.

    That until there no longer
    First class and second class citizens of any nation
    Until the colour of a man’s skin
    Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
    Me say war.

    That until the basic human rights
    Are equally guaranteed to all,
    Without regard to race –
    Dis a war.

    That until that day
    The dream of lasting peace,
    World citizenship
    Rule of international morality
    Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
    But never attained –
    Now everywhere is war – war.

    And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
    That hold our brothers in Angola,
    In Mozambique,
    South Africa
    Sub-human bondage
    Have been toppled,
    Utterly destroyed –
    Well, everywhere is war –
    Me say war.

    War in the east,
    War in the west,
    War up north,
    War down south –
    War – war –
    Rumours of war.
    And until that day,
    The African continent
    Will not know peace,
    We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
    And we know we shall win
    As we are confident
    In the victory

    Of good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!
    Good over evil –
    Good over evil, yeah!”

  34. Regarding protest. Obama won Nobel Peace Prize. Should I say how ridiculous is that? No politician ahead of an army who sends guys to death and bombs countries should win any Nobel Prize in Peace. I was laughing days ago when I read that Berlusconi enlisted but as far as I am concerned he is as peaceful as Obama.

    After all Arafat won the prize. Next one? Osama Bin Laden?

    Have the Americans organized the prize? What’s the next Obama achievement? Save Krypton?

    Vanitas Vanitatis.

    1. Piergiorgio,

      who cares about prizes, especially about Nobel Prizes? Nowadays it’s nothing more than a sum of cash that a (small) committee rewards to someone…

      They obviously try to impress the public with unusual decisions than with content. Just look who won the prize in literature the last 10 years and you will understand what I mean.


    2. I agree with Piergiorgio.

      I think it’s far too premature to award Obama such a prize. What has he actually done? (He sends more troops to Afghanistan. Ah, yes, it’s “a war of necessity”, Guantanamo Bay is still open…)

      The Nobel PEACE Prize should be for achievements rather than promises and speeches. So many politicians have made beautiful promises and given hope, just to disappoint later.

      I wonder what he will do with his $1.4 million…

    3. Madness, sheer madness.

      I know that almost everyone seems to think that President Obama is Christ II, but Michèle is right: surely it should be awarded in recognition for what has been achieved rather than promised.

      I don’t know, maybe the $1.4 million can be put towards re-building Iraq?

    4. Why are people so surprised??? Obama is a puppet like all the rest before and after… He’s a great “orator”, but he’s still just a puppet of the system…

      Elected officials don’t run our planet… They are just objects for the masses to believe in have “faith” in… The munitions and chemical manufacturers issue the orders… initiate death and destruction…

      Open your eyes to reality and nothing will surprise you…

  35. Hello All,

    Has anyone mentioned Country Joe McDonald and the iconic “I Feel like I’m Fixing To Die”? (What are we fighting for, I don’t give a damn, next stop is Vietnam…)

    Also I seem to remember a remarkable protest dirge song he did, vocals with just a triangle. Can anyone remind me of that or I am dreaming?


  36. Just read of Gary McKinnon’s unsuccessful appeal to the UK supreme court. If ever there’s a time we need new protest songs it’s now!

    I never realised how many great songs were actually centred around protest.

    Best wishes FEd and all


  37. If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next would be my obvious favourite of your list FEd, gotta back the Welsh.

    Happy Birthday Tim as well.

    Happy Days,
    Simon J

  38. Younger generation protest songs:

    American Idiot – Green Day
    Fuck The Police – NWA
    Boom! – System Of A Down


  39. Hi FEd and bloggers

    As a teenager at the beginning of 70s I cannot forget some “absolute songs for peace”: We Shall Overcome – Blowin’ In the Wind – and White Rabbit, Lucy in the Sky… Paint it Black for the years in Vietnam – The Wall for the years in school and Imagine for ever.

    I remember a terrific Italian song for the peace too “Mettete dei fiori nei vostri cannoni”. I don’t translate: forget it! 😀

    Have a good week end!

  40. Hi all,

    in my opinion all songs include a message from the artist that he/she tries to transport to us and I’m not very comfortable when someone calls a song a protest-song…

    I’d rather have people yell when they have something to protest, than to sing…

    Best regards,


  41. Hi Everyone,

    I think of CCR’s “Fortunate Son” for this category and Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street”, and that one is for all the phoney people who pretend they are a friend but really wish you bad or don’t give a darn at all… I think we all know at least one person like that, unfortunately.

  42. A few more are by CCR.

    1) Run Through The Jungle
    2) Hideaway

    3) Steppenwolf’s “America”.

    “America where are you now? Don’t you care about your sons and daughters…?”

    All about Viet Nam.

  43. David, I love your music, and generally the music of Pink Floyd is my favorite band ever.

    Ribs (Seville) Spain, I play flamenco guitar.

    Thanks for being born for music.

  44. For the Vietnam War, the song for me that immediately struck to mind was “Search and Destroy” by The Stooges.

    “I am the world’s forgotten boy
    The one who searches and destroys
    Honey gotta help me please
    Somebody gotta save my soul”

    …just being two references I can remember from the top of my head.

    And for general anti-war songs, “Find The Cost Of Freedom” by CSNY, listened to that live on “Deja Vu Live” and sent shivers up my spine… which doesn’t happen to me very often.

  45. Wow, heavy stuff here FEd.

    I really like Lookin’ Back by Bob Seger. Very anti Vietnam era song from Live Bullit. Still relevant today I think. Got to see Bob do this live a couple of times in the 7’s. Great song.

    Also what about Marvin Gaye What’s Goin’ On? Could this be considered a protest song?

    Hope everyone has a good weekend,

    1. Good shout, Hoss.

      “Father, father
      We don’t need to escalate;
      You see, war is not the answer
      For only love can conquer hate.”

  46. Right after the 9/11 attacks, the Eagles wrote “Hole in the World”. The lyrics are a very poignant look at how fanatical beliefs of any kind can (and do) lead to irrational acts against those who do not share the same fanatical beliefs.

    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

    They say that anger is just love disappointed.
    They say that love is just a state of mind,
    But all this fighting over who will be anointed,
    Oh how can people be so blind?

    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

    Oh they tell me there’s a place over yonder,
    Cool water running through the burning sand,
    Until we we learn to love one another
    We never reach the promise land.

    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    There’s a Cloud of fear and sorrow.
    There’s a hole in the world tonight.
    Don’t let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

    This is a live performance of it in Melbourne.

  47. Hi Fed,

    Never mind the protest song, as I (like many others out there) are a few days from finding out whether I will still have a job or not, I would like to send our senior management CEO etc. to the Fletcher Memorial home for incurable tyrants etc.

    They can’t afford to pay us but they can afford an outside consultant to get rid of 50% of staff… probably the 50% that do the work, grrrrrrr.

    Sorry for the rant and whinge… think I’ll just log out and go and tranquillise myself with a nice long beer and Echoes!!!!!

    Hope you and everyone else is well.

    Best wishes

  48. I forgot to include a song I love “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, which, if I’m not wrong, talks about Vietnam too.

    Have a nice weekend everybody.

  49. hi FEd,

    I gladly second nick from the south here, peter gabriel’s “biko” gives me shivers all the same. I was watching the 46664 concert on dvd a few days ago, the performance of the song there, it put tears in my eyes…

    but I also remember being in derry/londonderry a few years ago, walking around the bogside, and at one point I had U2’s sunday bloody sunday in edge’s popmart version in my earphones, it’s a very quiet, fragile rendition of the tune, and it really put me out for a long moment there…

    all the best,

  50. “Earth Song” – Michael Jackson

    Eis uma musica completa ;;
    Protesto a favor da preservação da natureza ..
    Protesto a favor dos indios ..
    Protesto a favor do fim das guerras ..
    Protesto a favor dos animais ..
    Protesto a favor da vida ..

    — Isto se pudessemos voltar o tempo como fez Michael no clip!!


  51. “In an upstairs room in Blackpool, by the side of the Northern Sea, the army had my father while my mother was having me…”

    Military Madness by Graham Nash.

  52. Off topic, as I would only list protest songs against Obama, I might list them later however, LOL, but I´d like to ask what is behind this video of Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly, as I stumbled over it accidentally, and although it is my fave song, I´ve never ever seen this version.

    Does anyone know why this version was pulled and modified? What is the story behind that?

    1. Fed, it is really odd, the poster of the video himself is saying the day after he recorded it, it was pulled. Maybe David or his management can shed some light on this mystery.

      I can understand why it was pulled, the original version is more relaxed and this way matching more the smoothness of flying and more supporting the message and mood of the song.

    2. Ulli,

      Not much of an explanation but read this. I’m guessing that it was just a preference to switch to the one that became the popular version.



  53. Dear F.Ed.,

    Frankly speaking a search on the web about this matter gives us many results; a couple of songs released in the 80s I remember are:

    “Enola Gay” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
    – about the atom bomb of Hiroshima: “Enola Gay, you should have stayed at home yesterday”.

    “Fragile” by Sting (it brings tears to my eyes)

    Perhaps this final act was meant
    To clinch a lifetime’s argument
    That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could
    For all those born beneath an angry star
    Lest we forget how fragile we are

    “We Are The World,” by USA For Africa
    – about feeding people in Africa.

    By the way: Happy Columbus Day to US readers!


  54. Hello FEd,

    I would ask everyone to take a deep breath, and relent on the Obama-slamming.

    For your consideration, I suggest a visit to this site.

    So that you may understand how the Nobel Prize is awarded; not necessarily for work accomplished but for setting people on the proper path.

    Our prez has been slammed from the day he took office which is a mighty sad thing given the free reign given his predecessor — that supreme incompetent George W. Bush,


  55. Dear FEd,

    Thanks for the link to the Michael Moore text. It’s rather refreshing to read amidst this negative tide of dreck pouring out of most of our media outlets.

    I just hope, as a true anti-war protest, we can actually move forward, can actually progress and get ourselves out of the mire in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and Iran. To mind the homefires and mend fences.

    It would be nice to focus on things such as education, environment, the green revolution…

    Again thanks, quite thoughtful about the link and much appreciated.

  56. Surely there is more to writing a protest song there has to be a total belief behind it, Midnight Oil would have to have been regarded as one of the leaders in that field. Almost all their songs were a protest/voice raised for some cause and they had total belief. Remember the Sydney Olympics!!!

    This is where so many other so called protesters fail and come across as holier than thou idiots – like Bono.

    P.S. Sam, I think that you will find that Disturbed didn’t write Land Of Confusion.

  57. Great topic, I enjoyed very much reading it.

    I love many of the songs already mentioned, especially Neil Young’s “Let’s Impeach the President” (the entire album is great), Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms” and CSN&Y’s “Ohio”.

    One of my favourite protest song is Guns N’ Roses’ “Civil War”, but I could add to my list more than one track by System of a Down, Pearl Jam, Sex Pistols, Manu Chao and also many Italian ones, as Piergiorgio said.

    And what about Inti Illimani’s “El Pueblo Unido”? That song is a piece of history more than a great tune, in my opinion.

  58. It is time for some new protest songs.

    Leaders leave the stage
    To end a long dark age
    Move like puppets on a string
    And the world is suffering
    The world is not what you see
    But truth will set you free
    You don’t get peace by fighting wars
    Let us make a stand and heal the scars

    Hope comes in the dark
    Just ignite that spark
    The future will be bright
    After dark, comes the light
    Now it’s time to act
    To make a stand and seal the pact
    And our future could be bright
    ‘Cause I can see the light

    The world is changing fast
    Freedom will come at last
    It’s crystal clear to see
    So leave the powers that be
    ’cause fear and terror is their game
    They rule the world without shame
    You don’t get peace by fighting wars
    Let us make a stand and heal the scars

    Now it’s the time to awake
    For you and me and our children’s sake

    Hope Comes In the Dark

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