After the rally a couple of weeks ago in Philadelphia, I wrote that there have been two Harry Chapin songs bouncing around in my head. They’re both calls to action in their own way: we have more in common than not and that working together — even when that work will be difficult — is the best way to truly improve things.
When I mentioned this to my 12-year-old son, he suggested that I put together a playlist of protest songs, songs that call people to action or raise awareness of issues worth addressing. I thought that was a good idea.
It didn’t take me long to assemble this playlist from my music library. I had to break one of my rules for making a playlist for one like this. Normally, I don’t do any more than one song per artist, but that wasn’t going to fly this time. There’s a fair mixture of covers and original versions of the songs, although only one song is actually repeated in the playlist: Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” appears right alongside of Eddie Vedder’s amazing cover of that same song.
There are — as can be expected with songs that are angry at the status quo — multiple tracks on this playlist with objectionable language, including one that uses a word I never actually use in its title.
There’s also an interesting history lesson to be had here. Direct references to certain wars and political figures are peppered throughout the list. It gives me the opportunity to talk about things my kids probably haven’t really learned about in school yet. That includes four straight songs about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Speaking of objectionable language, one thing I neglected to mention when I wrote of being bullied in high school, is that the song “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon was one of the things that helped me cope during my suspension from school that year.
The emotions of this playlist are laid bare to anyone who will listen. Even though I’m quite familiar with all of these songs, I didn’t quite expect the sheer level of emotion I felt when I actually sat down to listen to it. Whether it’s Harry Chapin singing about “how together, yes we can create a country better than the one we have made of this land” or Phil Ochs’s spoken word tale of how he felt after the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968: “Something truly extraordinary died there which was America.” There’s some fear, some hope, some empowerment, some calls to action. In defense of the weak, the poor, the downtrodden, the needy. War, poverty, injustice, and hatred are among the themes covered in this list.
I probably will add songs to this playlist over time but at least for now, it’s a good one. Here’s what I put on this list. What other songs belong here?
|Song Title||Performed By|
|Bulls on Parade||Rage against the Machine|
|I Ain’t Marching Anymore||Phil Ochs|
|The Parade’s Still Passing By||Harry Chapin|
|We Shall Overcome||Bruce Springsteen|
|This is Why We Fight||The Decemberists|
|Give Peace a Chance||John Lennon|
|Another Age||Phil Ochs|
|The Luck of the Irish||John Lennon|
|Sunday Bloody Sunday||U2|
|Sunday Bloody Sunday||John Lennon|
|I Don’t Like Mondays||The Boomtown Rats|
|Days of Decision||Phil Ochs|
|It’s Good News Week||Hedgehoppers Anonymous|
|The Times They Are A-Changin’||Bob Dylan|
|The Hands that Built America||U2|
|What Made America Famous?||Harry Chapin|
|Bound for Glory||Phil Ochs|
|This Land is Your Land||Woody Guthrie|
|Little Boxes||Pete Seeger|
|In the Ghetto||Elvis Presley|
|Southern Man||Neil Young|
|Ball of Confusion||The Temptations|
|What’s Going On||Marvin Gaye|
|Blowin’ in the Wind||Bob Dylan|
|The Rising||Bruce Springsteen|
|Goodnight Saigon||Billy Joel|
|I Kill Therefore I Am||Phil Ochs|
|Masters of War||Eddie Vedder|
|Masters of War||Bob Dylan|
|When the War Came||The Decemberists|
|Two Tribes||Frankie Goes to Hollywood|
|Hitler’s Brothers||Paula Cole|
|Mussolini’s Head||Greg Greenway|
|Where Have All The Flowers Gone||The Kingston Trio|
|That’s What I Want to Hear||Phil Ochs|
|I Wonder What Would Happen to this World||Harry Chapin|
|Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee||Buffy Sainte-Marie|
|Old Man Trump||Woody Guthrie|
|Power and the Glory||Phil Ochs|
|Woman is the Nigger of the World||John Lennon|
|Only a Pawn in their Game||Bob Dylan|
|Chimes of Freedom||Bob Dylan|
|Remember When the Music||Bruce Springsteen|
|Song for Myself||Harry Chapin|
|Abraham, Martin, and John||Dion|
|Pride (In the Name of Love)||U2|
|Love Me I’m a Liberal||Phil Ochs|
|I Ain’t Afraid||Holly Near|
|One Man, One Woman, One Vote||Greg Greenway|
|Working Class Hero||John Lennon|
|William Butler Yeats Visits
Lincoln Park and Escapes Unscathed
|It’s the End of the World As
We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
If you want to be a hero, well just follow me………