Well folks, these are troubling times we live in. We are surrounded by war, violence and hate; Today, I bring you songs that made a statement about the world. Many artists use music to express political views, address social issues and most importantly, influence social change.
Here is Part 1 of my 3 part series called Political Crescendos:
White People for Peace by Against Me! – With a transgendered lead singer, Laura Grace Gabel (formerly Thomas Gabel), this band isn’t afraid of controversial social topics. White People for Peace paints an image of war and lost lives. The chours “Protest songs in response to military aggression/Protest songs to try to stop the soldiers’ guns/But the battle raged on” highlight’s that the cry for peace is drowned out by the sounds of war.
What’s Goin’ On? by Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On? is a song about police brutality that was happening in 1969. Motown artist, Ronald Benson from the Four Tops, witnessed brutality during a protest in People’s Park, California on May 15, 1969 (Bloody Thursday). He thought “What’s happening?” and took this question songwriter, Al Cleveland. Al wrote the song and presented it to Marvin Gaye who made it his own. Ronald claims that it’s not a protest song, but a song about love and understanding.
WAR by Edwin Starr – Originally recorded by the Temptations, this song like many others during the 60’s, is an anti-war song protesting the Vietnam War. WARR has been covered by many artists like Bruce Springsteen and Tracy Chapman and has appeared in many movies and TV shows. Like me, you probably first heard the song from Rush Hour.
Zombie by The Cranberries – The only songs I know by Zombie are this song and Dreams. Zombie is a haunting song that was written in memory of two young boys, Jonathan Ball and Tim Parry who were killed in the Warrington, England bomb attacks in 1993. The IRA (Provisional Irish Republican Army) were the ones who initiated the attack.
No Guns Allowed by Snoop Lion Feat. Cori B & Drake – This song was written by Snoop Dog (during his Snoop Lion phase). The music video is raw, opening with a line from Obama followed by footage from news outlets. The lyrics are intense, “Me no want no more gun play/ When the bodies hit the ground there’s nothing left to say/Me no want to see anymore innocent blood shed”. The Sandy Cook shooting and the block party shooting that killed Shaynne Charles and Josh Yasay in 2012 influenced the song.
Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 – Even though lead singer Bono says it’s not a rebel song, the lyrics and hard beat say otherwise. This song was U2’s response to the British troops killing unarmed civil rights protesters who were rallying against Operation Demetrius.
Check out Part 2!