A vast history of protest music has been written in response to events in our American history. Songs well known (“This Land is Your Land,” “Masters of War,” “Fortunate Son”) and lesser known (“Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” “Ashes of War,” “Hardsome Johnny“) have been written and popularized thanks to the American right to peacefully assemble and speak freely, without fear of persecution. Artists of all genres and popularity take part in this American tradition, one that we at NYS Music hold dear. We begin this week with our new series, This Week in Protest Music. This is not a time for silence by the media, nor is it a time to ignore the voices of the people whose voices strive to be heard, in particular those who are amplified by musicians. Dissent is patriotic.
We will share the most current and relevant protest music that is written in light of the events surrounding the new administration’s ascent to power. Neil Young took four weeks to write “Ohio” in the wake of the Kent State shooting in 1970. Thanks to technology and the immediacy of news, songs in response to unpopular actions will be more frequent and plentiful in number.
Music is universal. Music speaks for us all. Music takes a stand.
We share that music with you.
This week in protest music:
Audioslave reunited at a Prophets of Rage show at Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. The event also featured Vic Mensa, Jackson Browne, Jack Black and the Los Angeles Freedom Choir.
Arcade Fire were joined by Mavis Staples for “I Give You Power.”
Dumpstaphunk debuted the video for “Justice,” featuring Trombone Shorty. Regarding the song’s message, Ivan Neville told Relix, “The human part is that major common thread that some other humans have the ability to ignore.” He added, “This song is to remind people that we are all in this together no matter what your beliefs, race, or any other perceived differences. When you look at how far we’ve come and think about all the progress we’ve made and then think about how far we still have to go. That’s when you need justice in all its form.”
The National headlined a Planned Parenthood benefit and debuted “Turtleneck.”
In honor of the Women’s March this weekend, Fiona Apple debuted “Tiny Hands.”