I guess I really am a hippie at heart

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
Revolution The Beatles
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
Zombie The Cranberries
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
Holiday Green Day
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
Dover John Flynn
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
Universal Soldier Donovan
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
Exhuming McCarthy R.E.M.
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
Imagine John Lennon
One Man, One Woman, One Vote Greg Greenway
Working Class Hero John Lennon
William Butler Yeats Visits
Lincoln Park and Escapes Unscathed
Phil Ochs
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………


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