Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Greatest Political Rock Songs

John J. Miller got the ball rolling with a National Review story on the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs.

Then Will Bunch provided an antidote at Attytood with his own Greatest Liberal Rock Songs. He also solicited requests for more.

Meanwhile, Dan Rubin at Blinq was kind of sort of affronted by the whole concept of using music for one's own political ends. Me too, but that didn't keep the Dear Friend & Conscience, the kitties and I from whipping up our own list and sending it off to Attytood:
"Morning Dew"
This song about life after a nuclear apocalypse was written and originally performed by Bonnie Dobson, a Canadian folkie, but was picked up by the Grateful Dead and used as a powerful show closer.

"Big Yellow Taxi"
In which Joni Mitchell famously bemoans the greedy developers who have "paved over paradise."

It had been a while, so we put this Beatles classic on the CD changer for a listen and had plum forgotten that while the Fab Four call for a revolution, they want it to be nonviolent. Oh, yeah.

"Rocket Launcher"
Musicians don't come any more political that Bruce Cockburn and his songs any more angry than this epistle against brutal Central American dictatorships.

"Peace Train"
Timeless sentimements from the former Cat Stevens in this song covered by Dolly Parton and 10,000 Maniacs, among others.

Olu Dara has had a second career as a a singer of blues, funk and reggae and deserves to be better known. (His first career was as a jazz trumpeter.) This song is exactly what you think it's about.

This anthem to Jamaica's downtrodden is timely since Desmond Dekker, the man who co-wrote and had a huge international reggae hit with it in 1969, went to his mortal coil on May 25. (My Kiko's House remembrance is here.)

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Don't believe what anyone says, Gil Scott Heron was the progenitor of rap. He's at his most lethal in this biting commentary on late 60s-early 70s political and social turmoil. The song title has, of course, become an American idiom.

"Compared to What"
Our top pick. This scathing take on American society in general and Vietnam War in particular was originally performed by Les McCann. It has been oft covered by other groups and artists ranging from Oblivion Express to Mya.
In any event, it's only rock 'n' roll. And yes, we like it.

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