Theme : Political and Protest songs

Abraham, Martin and John” is a 1968 song written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change, namely Abraham LincolnMartin Luther King, Jr.John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written in response to the assassinations of King and the younger Kennedy in April and June 1968.

Each of the first three verses features one of the men named in the song’s title, for example:

Has anybody here, seen my old friend Abraham –
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.  ( Source wikipedia)

Zombie” is a protest song by the Irish rock band The Cranberries.[1] It was released in September 1994 . It was about  “The Troubles  ” In  Northern Ireland

Going Underground  by the Jam. The song includes several indictments of the British policy on arms, and challenges its relative emphasis compared with social provision. It also points a telling finger at the “public” (i.e. electorate).

You want more money of course I don’t mind / To buy nuclear textbooks for Atomic crimes

The song also blasts the idea of using money, that could be spent on healthcare, on weapons:

You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns

According to the book The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English R Jones ock by John Harris, this song was written about the fall of the Iron Curtain and taken up as an anthem by bomber pilots during the first Gulf War. The song reflected the optimism felt around the free world as nations came together. A good indicator of this attitude is the Doomsday Clock, which is run by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to indicate how close the world may be to destruction at any given time. In 1947, the clock was set at 7 minutes to midnight, but in 1953, when the US and USSR tested nuclear devices, the clock reached 2 minutes to midnight as nuclear war loomed. Tensions eased in the ’70s and the clock moved back, but the cold war brought the clock to 3 minutes in 1984. In, 1991, which was the year when the US and USSR signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and destroyed many nuclear weapons, the clock was moved to 17 minutes, which is the farthest it has ever been to midnight. In 2007 it was at 5 minutes. (thanks, Radhika – Gurgaon, India)

Fat boy slim’ version was used by Tony Blair  at the height of his power!

The Jam again  with Eton Rifles!

The song recounts a street battle Paul Weller had read about in the newspapers concerning elements of a Right To Work march going through Slough in 1978 breaking off to attack pupils from Eton College who had been jeering the lunchtime marchers (hence Hello, Hooray, an extremist scrape with the Eton Rifles), rashly thinking that a bunch of ‘posh schoolboys’ would be an easy target: only for the outnumbered but far fitter college pupils to give them a beating. As the lyric put it: Thought you were smart when you took them on, but you didn’t take a peek in their artillery room. All that rugby puts hairs on your chest…

The song’s lyrics, in common with many Jam tracks, contain colloquial references to life in Britain, including:

“Sup up your beer and collect your fags, There’s a row going on down near Slough”

Literally, the first part of the line means “drink up your beer and collect your cigarettes”, though in this case it is likely a double entendre referring both to a group of friends hurriedly leaving a pub, and to the British boarding school practice of fagging; a hierarchical authority structure in which younger students acted as personal servants to those in higher forms.

With regard to the latter part, Slough is a town near to Eton. The two districts have a history of class conflict, with Slough in particular as a result of being used for various sociological experiments by urban planners and politicians throughout the 1960s through to the 1990s (a common target in Paul Weller’s lyrics in The Jam).  Source Wikipedia .  Basically the song just showed how much there was a have and have nots  society in the UK in the 60’s and 70’s

Narina Pallot’s  song is a true prost against war

I’ve got a friend, he’s a pure-bred killing machine
He says he’s waited his whole damn life for this
I knew him well when he was seventeen
Now he’s a man he’ll be dead by Christmas

And so, everybody’s going to war
But we don’t know what we’re fighting for
Don’t tell me it’s a worthy cause
No cause could be so worthy

If love is a drug, I guess we’re all sober
If hope is a song, I guess it’s all over
How to have faith, when faith is a crime?
I don’t want to die
I’f God’s on our side, then God is a joker
Asleep on the job, his children fall over
Running out through the door and straight to the sky
I don’t want to die

For every man who wants to rule the world
There’ll be a man who just wants to be free
What do we learn but what should not be learned?
Too late to find a cure for this disease

And so, everybody’s going to war
But we don’t know what we’re fighting for

Don’t tell me it’s a worthy cause
No cause could be so worthyIf love is a drug, I guess we’re all sober
If hope is a song, I guess it’s all over
How to have faith, when faith is a crime?
I don’t want to die
If God’s on our side, then God is a joker
Asleep on the job, his children fall over
Running out through the door and straight to the sky
I don’t want to die
I-I-I-I don’t want to die
I-I don’t want to die

Green day  When September ends  is not a real protest song  but the video is !

The big river referred to in the title is the River Tyne that runs through Nail’s home town, Newcastle upon Tyne. The song is an elegy to the days when shipbuilding and industry in general were at their height in Newcastle and laments the later decline of the industry and therefore the decline of the importance and activity of the Tyne itself. However, in the last chorus, the song takes a more hopeful turn, declaring that, “the river will rise again”.

Some of the guitar work on the song was provided by Mark Knopfler.  Source Wikipedia

Walking on cobbled stones, little bits of skin and bone
Jumping on the tram car for a ride
I can remember then, I was just a boy of ten
Hanging around the old keyside
Now all the capstans and the cargo boats
And stevadores are gone
To where all the old ships go
But memories just like the seas live on

‘Cause that was when coal was king,
The river a living thing
And I was just a boy, but it was mine,
The coaly tyne

This was a big river,
I want you all to know that I was proud
This was a big river, but that was long ago,
That’s not now, that’s not now

My father was a working man,
He earned our living with his hands
He had to cross the river every day
He picked up a union card out of the neptune yard
Mouths to feed and the bills to pay
Then came a time for him to sail across the seas
And far away
Finally when that war was won
You brought him home and home he stayed

And when his days were done, under a golden sun
You took him back to where he longed to be,
Back to the sea

For this was a big river,
I want you all to know that I was proud
This was a big river, but that was long ago,
That’s not now

That’s not how

That’s not now

The neptune was the last to go,
I heard it on my radio
And then they played the latest number one
But what do they do all day?
And what are they supposed to say?
What does a father tell his son?
If you you believe that there’s a bond between our future
And our past
Try to hold on to what we had,
We build them strong, we built to last

‘Cause this is a mighty town,
Built upon solid ground
And everything they’ve tried so hard to kill,
We will rebuild

Well guys I hope you don’t mind  that I put a UK slant on this one. 😉

Everyone  don’t forget to check out   ,  and  offerings on this subject.

52 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Political? Active? Musical? Thematic? –Oooo Johnny what have you done? | 47whitebuffalo's Blog
  2. 47whitebuffalo
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 04:46:37

    O willowdot21! What a great set of selections. The class warfare between the boys is ‘cool’. The FOOD fight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoever came up with that grocery store fight better have gotten high kudos for that. Hey you can slant any way you want as far as I’m concerned. Heck I started off with Tibet. Yep. Thank you! I’ve had a great time listening. I think the Sept works fine with that video. Those soldiers look so very young. They have better things to do than fight wars they didn’t start.


    • willowdot21
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 10:49:59

      I am glad you enjoyed the videos , I just picked as I saw history… and the present! 🙂 I love the Narena Pallot video I used to work on a welcome desk for a large supermarket and I used to Joke that it was a new Training Video for Customer Services! 😉 It raised a few eyebrows!


      • 47whitebuffalo
        Oct 09, 2013 @ 16:14:57

        I can’t tell where this ‘reply’ is going, but New Training Ground for Customer Services is wonderful. I know a little about how you feel having worked retail in a large bookstore. That was a very surreal experience for me from start to finish! LOL.

      • willowdot21
        Oct 09, 2013 @ 16:58:54

        OH! yes some of the complains I had to deal with made us think we lived in Luny Tunes world!

  3. prayingforoneday
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 12:45:08

    WOW WILLOW…This is RIGHT up my street…
    That was a BRILLIANT journey through peace and war basically done through music. I just did a blog on John Lennon and it was very similar in terms of “Music for peace”



  4. prayingforoneday
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 12:47:30

    This was a song written by Catholics, it is a political song to say “Let these Catholic people sing about their past” And a passed where the English killed, raped and stole Irish land..
    Very fitting to this blog.
    Hope this was ok to add..

    Brilliant blog again..


  5. prayingforoneday
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 12:48:37

    Reblogged this on Looking for reasoning to a complicated world and commented:
    Political and Protest songs, something near and dear to my way of thinking.. Brilliant blog here!! Get it read!


  6. IdealisticRebel
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 13:16:58

    Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    An old favorite of us old hippies. I pray that we might learn from them. Peace, Barbara


  7. Johnny Ojanpera
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 14:00:22

    Nice job. I hadn’t thought of the ‘political correctness’ factor when I thought this up, but then we all have our views, so the agenda shouldn’t matter. Being offended is the best way to wake a brain up anyway… I am not offended btw. 🙂


  8. Trackback: Music Themes — Politcal Activists « bearspawprint
  9. Anna
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 15:05:49

    Reblogged this on MAIDEN ON THE MIDWAY and commented:
    This is a great collection–I feel it’s fitting.


  10. willowdot21
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 15:08:08

    Yes there is a lot made of this “PC” factor but you see what is PC to one is abhorrent to the next man, and so it goes on words and actions pricking consciences showing up errors. The better the tune the more the words are heard!


  11. bearspawprint
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 15:18:45

    Well done, Willow. I’ve been trying to write this comment for about 1/2 hr. But all the videos and this blank keeping going blank and I have to reload the page. Which I have done about a dozen times. maybe it is stabilized now for a few minutes….

    You put a lot of thought into this , is what I wanted to say. Thank you. Now I want to listen to the coaly river Tyne.


    • willowdot21
      Oct 09, 2013 @ 15:25:51

      OH! yes that is a sad sad story and a true one all those mighty cranes still and redundant , like the coal mines best not get me started all I will say is Mrs Thatcher was not good for Britain she brought us closer to defeat than ever Hitler and his Nazi hoards ever did. sorry carried away again.. hugs!! xxx


  12. 47whitebuffalo
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 16:18:56

    Reblogged this on 47whitebuffalo's Blog and commented:
    Willow has some wonderful other angles for this Theme: Political and Protest Songs. My personal favorite it the Grocery Store Food War by Narina Pallot — 14 Everybody’s Gone to War. It is not to be missed. I swear you’ll never walk through a supermarket again without wondering what’s on the agendas of your fellow foragers. LOL. Check out time!


    Oct 09, 2013 @ 20:21:42

    Brilliant compilation! Take a bow! Faithfully Debbie


  14. Rene
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 01:02:22

    Reblogged this on Mind Chatter and commented:
    I have loved this song for a long time. I once read all I could on the individuals mentioned to get a real background to the song. Everyone should, even now, so long from the birth of the song.


  15. Trackback: Music Themes: Political Activists Next theme= WOLVES « bearspawprint
  16. WordsFallFromMyEyes
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 22:35:01

    This is excellent, Willow – excellent!

    I didn’t know what fagging was, had no idea. I’ve learned a lot in this post, & love the choice of music – especially Fatboy Slim 🙂


    • willowdot21
      Oct 28, 2013 @ 11:57:19

      See it is amazing what you can learn on wordpress!! I am glad you enjoyed the post there are more “theme posts” coming up. You can join in if you wish!! 😉 hugs to you Daniel!! xxxxxxxxxxxx


  17. bwcarey
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 15:58:24

    all saints day, there are many


  18. Smith
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 12:30:27



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