Mon. Jul. 22, 2019

10 essential Protest songs – Change the world!

10 essential Protest songs10 essential Protest songs… Like always, a selection is per definition limited. As far as one can remember, music has always stood as one of our closest companions. Punctuating the running of our existences along with the circumstances. Meanwhile giving birth to some of the most vibrant pieces one can think of. And, in the meantime, eventually alerting us about the diseases of our world.

Civil rights, segregation, urban violence, drug addiction, environment… As many troubles most likely due to miseducation, selfishness and indifference. And as many elements that would serve as the core of countless genres from Blues to Soul, Hip-Hop and Reggae among others. As a result, many are the gems we couldn’t talk about here, even though they would have definitely deserved the mention.

No need to say how this selection is way from being exhaustive. Most likely due to find an extension later when the right time comes. Nevertheless, you should find thereafter a pretty much illustrative sample of themes needing our attention in our respective search for a better tomorrow.

Wishing you’ll enjoy the ride as much as we did, while putting this together for you. With your feedback, and a mention of your favorite song more than welcome.

10 essential Protest songs / De La Soul – Me, Myself & I (Tommy Boy)
Like it or not. A title that says it all as a matter of fact! Somehow premonitory as to what our technology-based society is about. Most likely built upon an principle – “divide et impera” (“divide and rule”) – attributed to Phillip II of Macedon (382–336 BC). And notoriously put into application by Roman conqueror Gaius Julius Caesar and French emperor Napoléon (Bonaparte). With countless of us gotten most likely away from “real life”, as addicted to a virtual world. And therefore left under the power of its main promoters…
10 essential Protest songs / Edwin Starr – War (Gordy)
More than 45 years have gone since Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong wrote this song, remembered as a blatant anti-Vietnam War protest. And nothing has changed since, apart from its location. Nowadays seeing a big part of the Middle East under what seems like a muddle of oppositions between the numerous ethnic and religious communities living in the region. Here again with local regimes playing their own cards, when not a double game at times, to establish their authority, regardless the suffering of their populations…
10 essential Protest songs / Marvin Gaye – Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) (Tamla)
Humanity has been capable of the best and eventually the most incredible, such as sending men to walk on the moon back in 1969. Meanwhile America would leave the ghettos to their own devices, with the rest being history. And here we come with the meaning of Marvin Gaye‘s memorable ‘Inner City Blues’, standing as like taking the cake from what back then was the most powerful economy in the world!
10 essential Protest songs / Stop The Violence Movement – Self Destruction (Jive)
Put together and written by famous political active Rapper / musician KRS-One. It followed the shooting of Boogie Down Productions founding member Scott La Rock and the death of a young fan in a fight during a concert by BDP and Public Enemy back in 1988. A song pretty much illustrative of the unceasing demonstrations of violence back then in the Hip-Hop scene. With the war between the East and West Costs scenes that lead to countless deaths and casualties at the end. Such as the murders of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to name but a (very) few…
10 essential Protest songs / War – The World Is A Ghetto (United Artists Records)
The title track from War‘s already 5th album released back in 1973. It somehow responded to Marvin Gaye‘s ‘Inner City Blues’ in a blatant smoldering, if not sarcastic way. It would eventually become Billboard magazine’s Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973. George Benson giving it a brilliant rendition 4 years later on his cover version from his ‘In Flight’ album. But also Will Downing and more recently Jephté Guillaume & Sean Schulich.
10 essential Protest songs / The Temptations – Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today) (Gordy)
Producer Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong not only co-wrote Edwin Starr‘s ‘War’. But also this song for The Temptations which stands as an absolute peak in terms of psychedelic Soul. Released back in 1970, it sadly remains a timeless reminder as to what the times we’re currenly living are about. Ironically bombarded by a countinuous flow of informations of all sorts. Meanwhile sort of appearently away from what stands as the essential. Don’t you think?
10 essential Protest songs / Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (Glades/TK Records)
‘Why Can’t We Live Together’ saw the light back in 1972. And here again, feels like nothing has unfortunately changed since. With those unceasing conflicts based on skin color, religion if not social class belonging. And this, most likely for the reasons we expressed in the introductory part of this selection. Most definitely the biggest success ever for Timmy Thomas. And this despite a minimalistic production (only using a Hammond organ part over like a prehistoric rhythm machine). And eventually covered by Sade years after…
Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black? (Twinight Records)
A Blues and Soul singer/musician, Syl Johnson brilliantly added his voice to the ones who explored the themes of African-American identity and social problems. More precisely on the groundbreaking 1970 album of the likes… A bit more than a year before the release of Marvin Gaye‘s ‘What’s Going On?’ as a matter of fact.
This highly emotional song says it all in a humanity where unfortunately what looks different is for many people considered as suspicious. If not even abnormal at times…
10 essential Protest songs / Jamiroquai – Emergency On Planet Earth (London Rican Mix) (Sony Soho Square)
Even though Jamiroquai‘s lead singer Jay Kay didn’t manage to appear as an example of virtue with his impressive collection of fast cars back then, the man has regularly expressed his concern about the environment. Eventually participating to campaigns against whales hunting at the time. With props to be given to him and his pals for what appeared as avant-gardism from then. This with cuts such as ‘Virtual Insanity’. But also the memorable ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’ with remix work courtesy of Masters At Work. A cut that stands as a sadly unheard warning. This in front of the progressive destruction of the earth’s resources and the ongoing global warming…
10 essential Protest songs / Esther Phillips – Home Is Where The Hatred Is (Kudu)
One of the most meaningful songs by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron which Esther Phillips covered soon after. ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’ stands as a rather dark travelling in dangerous and hopeless surroundings. With the only escape found in the use of drugs by many. Including Phillips herself who sadly died from liver and kidney failure at UCLA Medical Center in Carson, CA in 1984, at the age of 48…

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