Protest song article

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Protest song article

Post  Garrettchi on Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:10 pm

Here is a short interesting read to situate the context for the protest song project. Here is the link or read part of it below. The link has other links to sites on protest songs

http://america.bibl.u-szeged.hu/?num=6&ch=A&code=A.2.2

Rock music – whether folk, acid, hard, or psychedelic – was the lifeblood of Sixties youth counterculture. Its tone was at times rebellious and intoxicating, at others deceptively simple and lyrical. Either way, it turned out to be a lasting response to the political and social tensions of a tumultuous and eventful era. This was due, in no small measure, to the literary merit of the lyrics of poet-songwriters such as Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan.

Admittedly, the spotlight was shared with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys (who did their bid with “Student Demonstration Time”), The Supremes, and a host of others, with “clean” rock, hard rock, Black rhythms, and blues – and oh, yes, The Beatles from across the seas. But the protest song belonged to the culture of one group above all: a generation of youth moved to anger, if not action, because of the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., the Vietnam War, the failure of the Civil Rights Movement, the nuclear arms race, the assertive presence of the generation gap, the sight of democracy slipping out of reach.

Out of this younger generation of artists and protesters, Joan Baez, a soprano with a three-octave range, was the first politically active songwriter with innumerable popular works, while Buffy Sainte Marie, of Cree Indian heritage, wrote the hard hitting anti-war songs, "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying”, "Universal Soldier", and “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”, a song-ballad about the plight of the American Indian. The wailing blues-rock of Janis Joplin (“Mercedes Benz”, written with Beat poet Michael McLure) and the guitar pyrotechnics of Jimi Hendrix (“Machine Gun”) brought the protest song to new heights. (Both Joplin and Hendrix died tragically young of an overdose of drugs.)

During the 60s, the air was filled with the music of protest. There were feminist protest tunes, though often finely veiled, thereby achieving mass appeal (Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”, which was even on the Ed Sullivan Show, being a case in point; there were Vietnam protest songs (“I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag”, “One Tin Soldier”, “Saigon Bride”, “Coming Home Soldier”), civil rights protest songs (“Birmingham Sunday” and “Talking Birmingham Jam”, with lyrics by Phil Ochs, and “The Death of Emmett Till” by Bob Dylan); and there were loss-of-freedom, anti-establishment songs as well, most notably, the deeply bitter and ironic “This Land is My Land, This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie. (Not everyone saw the bitterness or irony and so, ironically, the song was picked up by the pro-Vietnam and pro-establishment people as well.). Bob Dylan attracted more fans to protest music with his move to electric guitar in 1965, thereby exercising perhaps the most profound influence on rock and roll. His classic works, “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “The Times They are A-changin’”, and “A Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall”, with its veiled references to nuclear apocalypse just a few weeks before the Cuban missile crisis, became the rallying cry of protesters everywhere. The highly prolific poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen re-exerted his presence with the deceptively lyrical yet hard hitting “Democracy is Coming to the U.S.A.”, “There is a War”, [Weblink] and “Everybody Knows”. “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, a song on everyone’s lips, was written by poet, singer, and activist Pete Seeger and sung by Peter, Paul, & Mary.

The air, indeed, was filled with the sound of music. This anti-establishment orchestration culminated in the legendary Woodstock Festival and Concert of 1969, where Jimi Hendrix belted out “The Star Spangled Banner” turning it into a commentary on itself to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of America's youth. As Dylan had foretold, the times they were a-changin’, even if, hopefully, not “On the Eve of Destruction” (lyrics by P. F. Sloan, performed by Barry McGuire), the title of a song whose deceptively catchy tune and lyrics are still remembered today by the Sixties Generation.
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Garrettchi

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