Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Sound and the Fury: Music with a Message...

Redartz:  Nobody enjoys a fun, swinging song more than I. Be it Rock, Pop, Dance, or whatever, a bit of fluff music is always a welcome thing. Nevertheless, there are times when one might want more from a song than a good beat. Popular music history is filled with singers, songwriters and bands who have used the stage as a soapbox. From the folk of Woodie Guthrie to the punk of the Clash, many great tunes have filled the airwaves with thought-provoking, cautionary, introspective, or even sometimes angry lyrics. 

In High School, I listened to protest songs from the 60's alongside then-current acts like ABBA and Wings. In college I sat around late nights with other art students (man, those Bohemian days of yore) listening to, and discussing, the musical proclamations from the Police , Heaven 17 and U2. In more recent years I've discovered so much more meaningful musings from the worlds of blues, jazz, and soul. It continues to be a most rewarding exploration.

You're probably waiting with great anticipation for a few examples. Well, wait no more; here are three songs which have moved, inspired, and engaged me: one from before our Bronze age, one from the Bronze, and one from after the Bronze (just to cover all the bases, you know). 

Sam Cooke; "A Change is Gonna Come"

I'd known Sam Cooke only from his pop songs (which were great). Upon hearing this for the first time, I was mentally staggered. Which is more powerful, the lyrics or Cooke's heart wrenching performance? Impossible to tell, but this song still chills me to the very soul. 



Three Dog Night:  "Out in the Country"

This song got to me (and still does) on a very personal level. TDN seemed to be singing for me: "...Out where the rivers like to run, I stand alone and take back somethin' worth rememberin'." In my youth, when I was hurting or upset, I sought the refuge of the woods, away from people. Nature remains a source of healing, and this song evokes that well.



Michael Jackson:  "Earth Song"

MJ's greatest song, in my opinion. Rarely has this world's painful afflictions been so effectively skewered.  As the video shows, the suffering is borne by, and the hope rests upon, the ordinary people all over. I can never hear this, or watch this video, without being brought to tears. Agonizingly amazing.



All these songs, and these performances, hit me deeply. But it's a good hit, and it's an impact that is good for the soul. They make me think, make me feel, make me want to try to make the world a little better. It may be naive or corny, but our world sure needs a little prompting to it's better nature. 

And now,  it's time for your input. What songs, what performers, have truly moved you; pushed you, made you sit and think in the dark?  Let's hear about the music that hits close to home for  you...


Anonymous said...

Theme tune to 'Grizzly Adams':

"Deep inside the forest there's a door into another land" etc


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Red - Genius subject!

Though I'll post more than once, want to get this out before leaving for work.

"America" by Ray Charles.

I don't think it was intended as a protest song but when I imagine or see Ray singing it I can't help but feeling quite the hypocrite.

All the typically patriotic feelings that well up are juxtaposed on a singular blind and black Ray Charles and the reality he faced.

If a performance was ever meant to undermine the popular imagination, this was it.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - is patriotism about someone else's country possible?

When I read Cap # 215 (aged 8), I felt patriotic about America, despite not being American!


Colin Jones said...

Phil, I loved the Grizzly Adams theme tune too - the song was called 'Maybe'

There's a place where we don't have to run
And maybe
There's a time we'll call our own
Living free in harmony and majesty...

Red, 'Earthsong' was Michael Jackson's biggest UK hit, staying at #1 for six weeks in 1995. You could also have mentioned his songs 'Man In The Mirror' and 'Heal The World' (which in the UK remained stuck at #2 behind Whitney Houston's mega-hit I Will Always Love You).

I've also found Sting's 'Fields Of Gold' to be a very moving song but the version by Eva Cassidy is especially heartbreaking. Eva Cassidy was an American singer who died of cancer in 1996 but in 2000 she became famous in the UK when the album 'Songbird' was released and hit #1 on the UK albums chart.

Another incredibly moving song that comes to mind is 'Sand And Water' by Beth Nielsen Chapman which she wrote in memory of her late husband who died of cancer.

Solid stone is
Just sand and water, baby
Sand and water
And a million years gone by...

One more for now - 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' by Joan Baez. Such a beautiful voice and such a sad song:

He was 18, tall and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave...

Anonymous said...

Colin - Thanks for recommending 'Sand & Water'. I'd never heard it before, and it's a really good song.

The Joan Baez song I like is "Stones in the Road". Years ago, I got one of her albums, on the merit of that song, but I seem to remember the rest of the album wasn't as good.


McSCOTTY said...

Ooooh nice topic. So many great meaningful lyrics out there even new songs that sometimes get forgotten. Saying that I’ll concentrate on "old guy music" performers as they got / get me through hard times:

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on” (the whole album) but the title song is just amazing about the futility of bigotry , war etc all in one lovely song and not a single word wasted.:

Father, father We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me So you can see
Oh, what's going on (What's going on) …

James Taylor Fire and Rain – Sadly we’ve all lost or will lose people

Just yesterday mornin',
they let me know you were gone
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can't remember who to send it to

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

David Bowie “Lazarus” about death, in particular his own imminent death and how he faced it square on. A real tear jerker (it still gets to me) :

Look up here, I'm in heaven
I've got scars that can't be seen
I've got drama, can't be stolen
Everybody knows me now
Look up here, man, I'm in danger
I've got nothing left to lose

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Ok. If I had to pick one, I'd go for,,,
What It Means by Drive By Truckers

Here's a video with lyrics.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Actually, why don't I just post up the lyrics?

He was running down the street
When they shot him in his tracks
About the only thing agreed upon
Is he ain't coming back
There won't be any trial
So the air it won't be cleared
There's just two sides calling names
Out of anger out of fear
If you say it wasn't racial
When they shot him in his tracks
Well I guess that means that you ain't black
It means that you ain't black
I mean Barack Obama won
And you can choose where to eat
But you don't see too many white kids
Lying bleeding on the street
In some town in Missouri
But it could be anywhere
It could be right here on Ruth Street
In fact it's happened here
And it happened where you're sitting
Wherever that might be
And it happened last weekend
And it will happen again next week
And when they turned him over
They were surprised there was no gun
I mean he must have done something
Or else why would he have run
And they'll spin it for the anchors
On the television screen
So we can shrug and let it happen
Without asking what it means
What it means?
What it means?
Then I guess there was protesting
And some looting in some stores
And someone was reminded that
They ain't called colored folks no more
I mean we try to be politically
Correct when we call names
But what's the point of post-racial
When old prejudice remains?
And that guy who killed that kid
Down in Florida standing ground
Is free to beat up on his girlfriend
And wave his brand new gun around
While some kid is dead and buried
And laying in the ground
With a pocket full of skittles
What it means?
What it means?
Astrophysics at our fingertips
And we're standing at the summit
And some man with a joystick
Lands a rocket on a comet
We're living in an age
Where limitations are forgotten
The outer edges move and dazzle us
But the core is something rotten
And we're standing on the precipice
Of prejudice and fear
We trust science just as long
As it tells us what we want to hear
We want our truths all fair and balanced
As long as our notions lie within it
There's no sunlight in our ass'
And our heads are stuck up in it
And our heroes may be rapists
Who watch us while we dream
But don't look to me for answers
Cuz I don't know what it means
What it means?
What it means?

Mike Wilson said...

I agree with you 100% on "A Change is Gonna Come".

Off the top of my head, I'd say Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, Last Resort by the Eagles, and It Comes and It Goes by Trooper all have lyrics that make me think the deep thoughts.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

The Last Resort would have been my second choice, Mike.

Anonymous said...

When I want a Message Song that gives me that “I feel so bad it feels good” feeling — I always choose CHEESY POP brand Message Songs.

Unlike other Message Songs that are so ambiguous you can’t really tell what they’re about (like Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” which lots of folks think is about the massacre at Kent State even though that hadn’t happened yet, or Bowie’s “Heroes” that kinda/sorta seems to be about tragic young lovers in the middle of a violent Revolution but is really just about some guy cheating on his wife), CHEESY POP Songs always hit the point right on the head….with a freaking SLEDGEHAMMER, baby!

So…whether it’s a song about War…

“Billy Don’t Be a Hero” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods

“One Tin Soldier’ by Coven

…or Teenage Alienation …

“At Seventeen” by Janis Ian

“I Don’t Like Mondays” by Boomtown Rats

…or Racism…

“Half-Breed” by Cher

“Brother Louie” by Stories

…or SERIOUSLY serious topics that you’d think would be entirely inappropriate for a catchy, hook-filled head-banger…

“Hell is For Children” by Pat Benatar

….CHEESY POP brand Message Songs always deliver that Message with a great big heaping helping of yummy Cheese on top. Look for them in the Dairy aisle of your favorite Supermarket.


Steve Does Comics said...

Let's see. The first ones to pop into my mind are:

"Shipbuilding" - Elvis Costello's commentary on the Falklands War.

"Tramp the Dirt Down" - Elvis Costello's commentary on a certain female British political leader.

"Pills and Soap" - Elvis Costello's commentary on the state of modern Britain.

"The Ghost in You" - Siouxsie and the Banshees' view of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

"Bomber's Moon" - Mike Harding's anti-war song told through the prism of his own father's death in WWII.

"Between the Wars" - Billy Bragg's commentary on the schism between the British ruling class and the working class and its relationship to imperialism and war-mongering.

McSCOTTY said...

b.t "At Seventeen” by Janis Ian is a lovely song that hits the nail squarely on the head. I never really thought of songs like Billy b don't be a hero as being deep (although I like it) but I suppose it is.

Mike: Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire is one of my favourites.

Steve: These are more my kinda thing but I cant believe I forgot all about "Tramp the Dirt Down" by Costello that line "That's when they finally put you in the ground - I'll stand on your grave and stamp the dirt down" is something else.

Redartz said...

Phillip and Colin- okay, you've convinced me to look up that "Grizxly Adams" theme. Don't recall ever watching the show, for some reason.

Charlie- excellent choice with Ray. Yes, his performance of "America" is both inspiring and convicting. Of course, Ray Charles is worth a column all to himself...

Colin- Apparently Michael Jackson peaked at number 27 over here with "Heal the World", and "Earth Song" didn't even chart (according to my Joel Whitburn Billboard Book). Yet another example of you Brits having better music taste than we Yanks!
Oh, and I'll be looking up "Sand and Water"...

Dangermash- man, those are some powerful lyrics. Most impressive, and also convicting...

B.t.- Excellent! Love some Cheese with my 'meaty' lyrics! Cher had a couple in that mode. "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves ". Another that I almost mentioned above: "Indian Reservation " by the Raiders...

Steve- those all sound interesting. Unfortunately I've heard none of them. Must remedy that. Apparently Elvis had a lot to say?

Humanbelly said...


As I'm reading through, sweat was starting to bead my brow, 'cause I've never been the deepest pocket in the jeans when it comes to songs/lyrics. And I was literally thinking how the only ones that ever grabbed me weren't "deep" by a longshot, and usually the reason I liked or remembered them was because they had catchy musical hooks. I started making an embarrassed mental list as I scrolled further down. . . and bless you, b.t., if you didn't crib my notes and post that very same list first! HAAAAAA!

No, my inability to really take in lyrics even when I know the WORDS to songs is a constant point of annoyed flabbergast to my wife, and the subject of more than a little ridicule amongst my loving peers. I think it was YEARS before someone clued me in that PUMPED UP KICKS was about/inspired by the Columbine Massacre. Same with the above-mentioned I DON'T LIKE MONDAYS.

So, along with b.t.'s submissions, I would add (allowing for a wider range from cheesy to absolutely legit):

INDIAN RESERVATION (The Raiders single--- the song had been around quite a bit longer, though.)
Zaeger & Evans' IN THE YEAR 2525.
Simon & Garfunkel's MY LITTLE TOWN (well, and then kind of half of all the rest of their catalog-- heh---).
Billy Joel's ALLENTOWN.
CSNY's FOUR DEAD IN OHIO (I mean, it's a sledgehammer, sure. . . )

As cheesy and inescapable as BILLY DON'T BE A HERO was at the time. . . it really is brilliantly subversive, because it waits until the LAST line of the LAST verse to cold-cock you with its point. At the time, it just came across as a particularly poignant & catchy dead-teenager-lover type of song, using every cliche'd trope in the book about battle glory and bravery and sacrifice. . . and for most folks, I think that's exactly what they saw it as. But I do wonder if it was very conscious response to the INCREDIBLY (almost frighteningly) popular BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERET. Because that song is just terrifying to me. The tune is an earworm, yes, but there is SO much wrong with it. (How is the widowed young mother supposed to respond to his horrific dying request, for starters-??)

OH! One more Simon & Garfunkel! SILENT NIGHT/7 O'CLOCK NEWS-- I figure the Holidays are just about upon us, so I can sneak that one in, eh?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie wants to add...

War by Edwin Starr (What is it good for?)

Fortunate Son by CCR

Some folks are born made to wave the flag
They're red, white and blue
And when the band plays "Hail to the Chief"
They point the cannon at you, Lord

It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no senator's son, son
It ain't me, it ain't me
I ain't no fortunate one

Charlie Horse 47 said...

As Charlie moves into the 1980s, Charlie really dug Heaven 17s "Penthouse and Pavement" and "Luxury Gap" albums.

Songs like Fascist Groove Thing, Crushed by the Wheels of Industry, Luxury Gap seemed to sum up the changing times when "big money" really started becoming "big."

Redartz said...

HB- Glad you found some 'validation ' thanks to b.t.! You named some more good ones; "Allentown " is terrific (actually made me think of Springsteen's "Hometown" - Bruce surely has some qualifiers for our lists today). And GREAT point about "Ballad of the Green Berets". So glad I'm not alone in finding that song's deathbed request to be troubling.

Anonymous said...

I was clearly stretching a point by including both “At Seventeen” and “I Don’t Like Mondays” to fit my overall Cheesy Pop thesis. Neither song is particularly cheesy or Pop; “At Seventeen” especially is a hauntingly beautiful and raw gut-punch of Truth. The lyrics could so easily have become maudlin and sappy, but they’re just pitch-perfect.

Dead-on about that last line of “Billy Don’t Be A Hero”. Also: I love “Indian Reservation” and “In The Year 2525” — both definitely lean toward the “Cheesy Pop” end of the Spectrum ;)

“Fortunate Son” is one of my favorite CCR songs. Edwin Starr had such a massive success with “War” that he tried to catch lightning in a bottle again with “Stop the War Now”, but it was, unfortunately, a pretty weak follow-up.

Two more— one great, one not so much:

“Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil deals with the deadly serious issue of the plight of Indigenous Australians in a thoughtful manner, and is a catchy, kick-ass song besides. Great video too. Worldwide smash hit, and no wonder.

“Countdown To Zero” by Asia deals with the genuinely terrifying issue of Nuclear Proliferation in a clumsy, obvious, extremely tone-deaf way. The “best” part is the Spoken Word section at the tail, with lead singer John Wetton grimly intoning, “Don’t do it…don’t begin the countdown to zero…you’ve got your finger on the trigger…take it off…” It’s so awful it’s actually HILARIOUS. Let’s call it a big ol’ wedge of “Stinky Cheese Pop”.


McSCOTTY said...

HB, wasn't "They paved paradise etc.." a song by Joni Mitchell called "Big Yellow Taxi " or did Melanie have a sing titled with the lyric as well?

Humanbelly said...

McScotty--- Of COURSE, yes-- you are absolutely right, thank you! (Ooof- what a slip-!) Heck, Joni & Melanie aren't even vocally very similar--- ha--

The Melanie song I'm thinking of would probably be LAY DOWN (CANDLES IN THE RAIN)-- which falls smack into that category that I mentioned earlier, where I love the song. . . and have no idea what it's really talking about. But it does seem to have a deeper statement to make than I'm picking up on. . . Whereas I'VE GOT A PAIR OF BRAND NEW ROLLERSKATES is. . . probably about sex, I'm thinking?

(I am an enormous liability in a musical, believe me. . . )


Edo Bosnar said...

Late to the show, as usual.
I'm glad "Fortunate Son" was mentioned, as it was one of the first ones that came to mind. Such an excellent song.

"Strange Fruit" is message song that always haunts me, esp. the original version by Billie Holiday.

Another that I've always liked and always puts me in a contemplative mood is the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" - as I get older, I appreciate it more and more, and marvel over the fact that McCartney was in his twenties when he wrote it.

One that I had greatly appreciated when it was first released, when I was still a teen, is Sting's "Russians." Yeah, Sting is pretentious as hell, and the song is almost a cliche, but at the time I found that the line about hoping that "the Russians love their children, too" very meaningful.

And a song that I learned to appreciate as more than just a simple catchy pop tune is the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville" which has a very subtle anti-war message - the narrator singing "And I don't know if I'm ever coming home" to his love is a young man about to be shipped off to Vietnam.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never caught that Anti-War bit in “Last Train to Clarksville” — way too subtle for me, but it totally makes sense. Humanbelly, my brother from another mother, did YOU get it? ;)

This morning I fell down a pretty dark Profound/Political/Protest Song rabbit hole…

“In The Ghetto”, Elvis Presley (written by Mac Davis) — borderline schmaltzy production (those ghostly backup singers!) but undeniably powerful

“Why Can’t We Live Together”, Timmy Thomas — more mournful than angry, with gorgeously sparse production (sometimes less really IS more)

“Living For The City”, Stevie Wonder — the opposite of the above, angry as hell, production out the wazoo, including densely layered sound effects and dialogue samples — an epic, bleak and brilliant masterpiece

“Respect Yourself” — leave it to the mighty Staple Singers to turn the dark into something pro-active


Humanbelly said...

Wow edo, I did not know that about LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE. I've always just liked it 'cause it's so catchy. . .
The other obvious Monkees' tune, I suppose, would be PLEASANT VALLEY SUNDAY. (It could be the incidental music for that scene in "Wrinkle In Time" where every family is forced to live identical idyllic lives. . . ).

I feel like Brian May's '39 has a spot somewhere in this conversation--- but I'm not exactly sure how. . .


Anonymous said...

Oh HB, you really need to check out the Wikipedia article on May’s ‘39. I’ve listened to that song for over 40 years and sung along with it in my car many times, but parts of it kind of confused me over the years so I finally checked out the actual lyrics online — and got even MORE confused! A few years ago, I found the Wikipedia article, and WHOA, turns out it’s not at all about what I thought it was about….


Colin Jones said...

A couple of message songs that haven't been mentioned:

Blowin' In The Wind - Bob Dylan but I like the Peter, Paul & Mary version.

I Am Woman - Helen Reddy. Is there a better feminist anthem?

Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
And yes I've paid the price
But look at what I've gained

I suppose I Am Woman counts among bt's "cheesy pop" but it's still a great song (and Red, it made #1 in the USA but got nowhere in the UK so we Brits don't always know best!)

When it comes to songs about nature you can't beat John Denver. He was an environmentalist long before it became a huge issue, when concern for the environment was dismissed as "tree hugging". John Denver was the real deal with songs like Rocky Mountain High, Calypso and my favourite, Sweet Surrender

Sweet, sweet surrender
Live, live without care
Like a fish in the water
Like a bird in the air

(Fascinating fact: John Denver died on October 12th 1997 which was also my father's 70th birthday).

Colin Jones said...

Paul, I was in Tesco this morning and they played Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'. I've never heard that song in Tesco before so what an amazing coincidence to hear it only two days after you mentioned it. And they played 'Big Yellow Taxi' too but that was a few months ago

Colin Jones said...

Red, I'm a bit stunned that you never watched Grizzly Adams. I suppose Phillip and I just assumed that you were very familiar with the wonderful theme song from that series. But here's something I've discovered on Wikipedia: Grizzly Adams was originally a theatrically-released film in 1974 (apparently it was released on November 13th 1974, just THREE DAYS before I bought my first ever Marvel comic) and it only became a TV series in 1977 (lasting for two seasons). I'm pretty sure I've never seen the original Grizzly Adams movie!

Colin Jones said...

HB, you aren't the only one who doesn't properly listen to song lyrics!

Take this example from Elvis Presley's Jailhouse Rock:

Number 47 said to Number 3
You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see
I'd sure like to have your company
Come and do the jailhouse rock with me

The song (and film) is obviously set in an all-male prison so those lyrics are clearly referring to a gay relationship...in ultra-conservative 1950s America. How did those lyrics get past the censors at the time? Jailhouse Rock was a massive hit in 1957 and it's one of the most famous songs ever written but those particular lyrics seem to have gone largely un-noticed!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Colin - I too am totally unfamiliar with the Grizzly Adams theme song! While i did see the movie, I don’t recall seeing an actual TV episode, just commercials or whatever.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Let’s talk about the musical known as “Hair!” Clearly a protest movie but any protest songs???

Killraven said...

Wow! Lots of moving lyrics here.

One that gets me every time is "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot . A few years back I played it back to back 10 times!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Besides my inquiry about Hair being a protest musical though I can't exactly identify a protest song...

Prince - Sign of the Times

Curtiss Mayfield's - What's Going On - gets mentioned yet again b/c I literally in the Trader Joe's last night!

Lennon - Imagine

Here's food for thought... is Beatle's Revolution a protest song against protesters?

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow

Humanbelly said...

b.t.-- Oh, I picked '39's story up right out of the gate. . . it hit me right in an inexplicably vulnerable spot in my emotional spectrum. It can make me cry, I kid you not. Something about the lost-in-time trope always has a particular poignancy for me. . . .

IIRC, GRIZZLY ADAMS may have been a movie-of-the-week first? Or was it one of those low-budget releases, like "In search of Ancient Astronauts" or the Billy Jack films--?
I never watched the show either, I'm afraid. I wonder if it might have been up against a tough time slot opponent, like The Six Million Dollar Man, or something?

HAIR is so musically upbeat and positive in tone that it's hard to find a true protest song (tho I haven't heard it in forever--). Heck, the title song might be the closest thing there is to counter-cultural celebration---

Hunh-- how'bout SUICIDE IS PAINLESS from the original M*A*S*H* film-? . . .Tryin' to remember the message of the actual lyrics. . .


Humanbelly said...

. . . . Aaaaaand no. No, I looked them up. No, no deep protest or existential message worth mining for at all, them. The lyrics are purposely NOT good-- written on a lark by the director's 14 year old son. . .

(which is great, too---!)


Anonymous said...

"Come Out Ye Black and Tans" - The Wolfe Tones
It was inevitable I'd start with that really.

"It Dread Inna Inglan" - Linton Kwesi Johnson
Having grown up with Irish rebel songs, and then the Jamaican records of the late 70s/early 80s I could easily list loads of both here, but theres a special place in my heart for the next one...

"Marcus Garvey" - Sinead O'Connor (originally by Burning Spear)

"Trouble Sleep Wake Yanga Am" - Fela Kuti
Probably better known for songs like the terrific "Zombie" - which precipitated the Nigerian army attacking the Kalakuta Republic (otherwise known as Fela's house) - but I really like the universality of this one:
"Tenant lost him job
Mr landlord come wake am up
Him say 'mister, pay me your rent'
Palaver, him get palaver...
My friend just come from prison
Him dey look for work
Waka waka day and night
Policeman come stop am for road
He say 'mister, I charge you for wandering'
Palaver, him get palaver..."
Who can't relate to that? And its a really great tune.

"Damballa" - Dr Nina Simone. Amazing arrangement and performance.

"Shipbuilding" - Robert Wyatt
Sorry Steve, the original version is much better (yes I know Costello wrote it, but thats who he wrote it for).
Wyatt also does a great take on the old American protest hit by the Golden Gate Quartet "Stalin Wasn't Stallin'". Possibly not a political point of view expressed much in the US since 1945...

"We Didn't Want This Brexit" - Fizzy G & the Forty Eight
No, I don't know who they are either, but I came across it recently online and thought it was pretty good.
"We didn't want this Brexit
Didn't need to be there
'Cos we had an empire
We didn't want this Brexit
Though we did demand it"
Great video too (;



Anonymous said...

‘39 has always “hit me in the feels” as it were, even if I didn’t fully grasp the actual content. I’d somehow always thought the “volunteers” were simply sailors going on a long ocean voyage. I understood there was a tragic sense of loss in that second verse, but didn’t really understand WHY. But knowing (as I do now) that Time Dilation is involved, Einstein’s Special Theory and all that — the explorers zoom out to the stars via FTL drive, find a beautiful new world to colonize and return to Earth with the happy news, all in a single year, only to find that over a hundred years have passed for the folks left behind — man, it makes that second verse (and the utterly despairing closing line) just DEVASTATING.


Redartz said...

Edo- great picks. "Strange Fruit" is ...incredible, grim, chilling, haunting. And "Russians" was on my list too. As is one other cut from that album: "Children's Crusade".

Colin- love your take on "Jailhouse Rock"! Never thought of it in that light. And regarding "Grizzly Adams", HB must have been right- "Grizzly" must have had serious competition on another network. Let's find out...
Ok, looked it up. It was on opposite "The Amazing Spider-Man ", that certainly explains why I never saw it...

Killraven- "Edmund Fitzgerald " is fantastic. Truly great story song, and Gordon Lightfoot faces it.

Charlie- you ever notice regarding the Beatles' "Revolution ", the second version they did changes the line to " You can count me out...in"?

HB and BT- ok, another to look up. "39". Will update you later...

Sean- very impressive list. Aaaand, more songs to look up. I'll be doing this all weekend....

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean triggered the Marley contributions. Charlie only knows the most popular:

- Get up Stand up, Stand up for your Rights!

- Exodus

- War (Truly clever to read the Emperor Haili Salassie's speech to the UN from the 1930s as they stood around with their finger up their @ss watching Italy use poison gas on Ethiopia.)

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, some other Bob Marley songs that come to mind:

I Shot The Sheriff
Iron Lion Zion
Buffalo Soldier

Colin Jones said...

Dolly Parton's 'Coat Of Many Colors' is a beautiful song about being poor but finding dignity in being poor.

Colin Jones said...
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Colin Jones said...

Red, I'm currently reading the latest issue of 'Fortean Times' magazine and it mentions the fossil of the dinosaur "Patagotitan Mayorum" (discovered in Argentina in 2012) which is thought to be the largest land-animal that has ever existed. It weighed about 62 tons and measured 115 feet from nose to tail. It was a plant-eater that lived about 100 million years ago but I'm baffled how such an enormous creature could eat enough food every day to sustain itself!

Steve Does Comics said...

Colin, the theory I've seen is the larger dinosaurs were warm-blooded in their youth, so they could grow quickly but, once they hit a certain size, they switched to being cold-blooded, so their vast bulk wouldn't make them boil to death. Therefore, because of not having to generate internal heat, they didn't need to take in much energy. Also, they probably lived very sedentary lives. At that size, it's not likely they were going to be doing much running around.

McSCOTTY said...

CH. Other protest songs that I don't think have been mentioned:

Scott Gill Heron. The revolution will be not be televised.

Sex Pistols. Anarchy in the UK

U2:. Sunday bloody Sunday

Nina Simone. Mississippi Goddamn

Proclaimers Throw the R away ( well more a mini protest type song)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

McScotty! The revolution will not be televised! ALways loved that title!

Colin Jones said...

Steve, thanks for that explanation!

Anonymous said...

McScotty, did you know Gil Scott-Heron's dad played for Celtic?

Charlie, the Beatles were rich by the time they recorded "Revolution" so of course they were against having one. As Nina Simone pointed out to them in her re-write - "Well you know you got to clean your brain/The only way we can stand in fact/Is when you get your foot off our back".
The only thing they really protested about was the Taxman.

Except Paul McCartney. I'm not a fan, but fair play to him for putting out "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" - I bet he didn't get his knighthood from the British queen for that one!
Seriously though, in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday he was pretty much the only British person to publicly take issue with the army shooting unarmed people, so well done him.

If you like reggae you might appreciate "Juif et Dieu/Juif et Dub" by old French Rastaman Serge Gainsbourg. Recorded with the Revolutionaries at Studio 1 in Kingston!


And just to be current, for anyone interested heres the latest cassetteboy riff on Boris Johnson (; -



Colin Jones said...

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can...

So said John Lennon who owned lots of possessions (hundreds of fur coats for a start) and had no intention of imagining living without them.

Anonymous said...

Madonna does a version of "Imagine" Colin. I saw a bit of it on tv once - it was excruciating.
Interesting to hear how she changed some of the words though.


Humanbelly said...

On the size-of-sauropods tangent: 'Way back in, like, 2001 or '02 little HB lad had an opportunity to visit "the vaults" at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum-- a private tour with noted paleontologist Dr Michael Brett-Surman. I was his plus-one, and chatted with the good doctor for quite a while in his office afterward. (He was honestly your classic sorta-prickly scientist-type, with not a wealth of natural interpersonal skills-- but it was still an incredibly cool time). A lot of dismissing-of-colleagues' work would seem to go on in those circles. But one thing that came up specifically is that he FIRMLY insisted that the size/weight estimates of those giant sauropods was just wildly off in ALL of the accepted literature, and that(by his estimation) they simply were not nearly as heavy as the broader paleontological community makes them out to be. I wasn't sure how that could be the case, and his explanation wasn't the clearest, tbh. But he pretty much dismissed ALL of the conventional thinking on that topic. Heh---


McSCOTTY said...

Sean, yes I had heard that Gill Scott Herons dad was at Celtic FC

Good point on Lennon Colin, strange I never thought John of that lol

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Is their a Sauropod in the room we are forgetting about?????

Surely those “bad boys or rock” The Rolling Stones” wrote some protest songs? Or did they? Were they really rather as indifferent the Beatles were?

The Who have us Baba O’Reilly as a minimum!

The other domineering Brit groups… Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Kinks…?

Colin Jones said...

Charlie, I think the Rolling Stones wrote a song criticising George W Bush.

Colin Jones said...
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Anonymous said...

Charlie, my impression of the Stones - seeing as we're back on the subject of dinosaurs - is the when they're topical its in a fairly non-committal way. Like, does "Street Fighting Man" actually tell you anything about their opinion of les evenements de '68?

Now Pink Floyd on the other hand... what about Animals? That has a definite point of view on the shift to the right in the British social crisis of the late 70s - they were knocking Thatcher well before the '79. Which is pretty good going for some rich geezers.
Come the revolution, like McCartney they get a pass. Jagger & Richards though will just have to take their chances, along with Ringo and the kulaks.


Anonymous said...

* before the '79 election.
Apologies for the typos. Duh.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - Yes indeed Floyd's Animals has some anti-gov sentiment!

A weak theory... perhaps Beatles and Stones had greater success b/c they were focused on writing music, girls, and LSD, than politics? The prioritized their time.

A did a quick google and it says both McCartney and Lennon spoke up about Bloody Sunday. But I know only the very basic of the event and nothing of the aftermath. So... perhaps you guys know what Lennon did? Sound like the Stones sat that one out too?

Anonymous said...

I looked it up Charlie and you're right, Lennon did do a song about it, with Yoko (I can easily imagine she's a bit of a Fenian - her surname even starts with an 'O'!)
It wasn't released as a single like McCartney's, so had a lower profile. Still, credit where its due.

So anyway, I dug out my copy of the cd A Soldier's Sad Story: Vietnam Through The Eyes Of Black America 1966-73, which compiles 24 tracks chronologically from the Monitors' "Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam) - "here to lend a helping hand" (!) - through to Curtis Mayfield's "Back to the World" and Swamp Dogg's "Sam Stone".
From the cover notes - "there are many more 'black' records that take the Vietnam war as their subject than 'white' ones. Only within the genre of country music is there any other significant body of war related records - considering how loudly hippies and college students protested the conflict, there is markedly little evidence of this on vinyl..."

That would seem to back you up on the Beatles, Stones etc knowing that their audience was probably more interested in girls and acid than politics. (In the case of Bloody Sunday, I guess that mattered to McCartney and Lennon because they were from Liverpool/Learpholl).


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean! Please clue me in on why Sir Paul and John would be interested coming from Liverpool area, and that motivate them perhaps to write songs?

P.S. - I respect you being Irish so I am not trying to agitate. Just I really have no idea why Paul and John would be upset more than the average person?

Also, there are a fair number of anti-vietnam protest songs by white performers, some listed here.
- CCR - Fortunate Son
- CSN - 4 dead in Ohio
- Country Joe - Get your son sent home in a wooden box
- Lennon / Ono - Give Peace a Chance which had strong reception here (That's why Nixon wanted to deport him.)

If one googles one can find them. Admittedly though, one does not find the big groups being mentioned.

McSCOTTY said...

Liverpool has a strong link to Ireland and was known as the "second capital of Ireland". At one point over 22% of the population of Liverpool had direct Irish links and from my visit there seemed to be distinct Irish areas of the City, they also have an Irish Festival etc McCartney and Lennon if I recall correctly each had one Irish parent so that also must have led to an interest in Ireland not (I think) on religious grounds Lenin was brought up Anglican and McCartney agnostic although his mum was Catholic.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Thanks McScotty!

Actually it would be interesting to know the scope of British anti-vietnam songs. I assume, like in France, there was a strong dislike of america waging war there?

Anonymous said...

British rock bands didn't really criticize British armed forces activities back then Charlie (or now for that matter), so don't go expecting them to say much about the Americans'.
The Who did radio ads for the US air force in '67!

Black Sabbath might have done one or two maybe. Does War Pigs count?


Anonymous said...

Paul, apologies in advance for being a smart arse; love the thought of Lenin bought up Anglican in Liverpool.


Colin Jones said...

"Lenin was brought up Anglican" - that made me chuckle, Paul.

Sean, I think Keith Richards turned down a knighthood so surely that gives him a pass too when the revolution comes ;)

Humanbelly said...

Beatles/Irish note:

In HARD DAY'S NIGHT, Paul's "Uncle" (an old Irishman) does at one point break into a quick, spirited chorus of "A Nation Once Again. . . "


Humanbelly said...

Speaking of side-notes-- this may be one of our BEST tangent-ridden topics EVER--! Whoa Nellie!!


Anonymous said...

The Star Trek:TNG episode "The High Ground" mentions the Irish unification of 2024. So not long to wait now!
Fwiw, personally I think Merseyside should be offered the option of being the 33rd county of the single Republic. If the British are keen on a land border with Ireland thats fine, but have it Britain. They're always complaining about Scousers anyway.


Anonymous said...

According to a radio 4 show, a bit back, Liverpudlians don't see Liverpool as part of England or the Uk, at all, but a nation/realm? unto itself. For the benefit of team USA, "Scouser" means Liverpudlian. Charlie probably knows this already, being Liverpudlian (in his soul - musically speaking).


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Dog gone HB!

Anytime you work in one of Charlie's fav films of all time - A Hard Day's Night - into a conversation, well... Charlie gets a warm tingling feeling all over!

Thanks for the reminder about Paul's grand dad being Irish in the film!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Red - I'm almost sensing a subject for a new posting!

Nicknames of various regions / places and a brief explanation!

Scousers for Liverpoolers? I had indeed heard it but was not on the tip of my tongue. And why "Scouser?"


Geordies? (And, The Geordie Army that supports Newcastle Soccer!)


Anonymous said...

Scouse is a Liverpool dish. Hence, "Scousers" - people who eat scouse.


Anonymous said...

I believe "scouse" was a stew traditionally eaten by sailors and locals in Liverpool Charlie, derived from the Norwegian "lapskaus".
So it presumably dates back to when the Vikings ran the north of England?

Which figures - I expect the Norse kings of Yorkshire would have taken Liverpool first, before plaguing Dublin and the east coast.


Anonymous said...

Sean - It's Vortigern & the Saxons, all over again.

For one Irish faction, the Vikings were allies, to defeat another Irish
faction. Then, after defeating the first Irish faction, the Vikings refused to leave
Ireland (just as Vortigern's Saxon 'allies' refused to leave England!)

According to Machiavelli, a ruler should never use foreign auxiliaries. Firstly, if
successful, the auxiliaries highlight your own army's inadequacy. What's more - as
in this case - the auxiliaries may not want to leave! The 'Free Companies' rampaged
all over France, in medieval times.

Then again, maybe no Irish faction invited the Vikings over, at all!

Conquerors always get someone to "request their assistance", before invading a
country, to legitimize conquest - it's the oldest trick in the book!

Enjoy your Yorkshire pudding.


McSCOTTY said...

Sean, Colin re "Lenin" errr ooops! embarrassing typo - sorry lol :)

CH: The origin of why Geordies seem to be called "Geordies" is because the folk in Newcastle and the surrounding areas were know to the Jacobite's (the Jacobite Revolution of 1745) to be supporters of King George, so it seems to be a derivation of the name George. "Georgies" supporters - Jacobite's favoured the exiled Stuart King JAMES II. This wasn't actually Scotland V England as is sometime portrayed in films as the Scots fought the Jacobite's (who were Scottish) as well.

Scots are called "Jocks" (not the US name for an athlete) mostly by the English, as John/Jack was believed to be a common name of males in Scotland at the time and in Scotland folk called John/Jack were sometimes called "Jock " - Its not that common now and its not depending on it use really taken as a slur but calling Scotland "Jockland" is considered an insult (though to be honest we don't care that much lol).

Welsh are/were know as "Taffy's" and it seems to come from an English anti Welsh nursery rhyme or a take on the Welsh name "Dafydd" (David) It may also have come form the Welsh River Taff. I don't think Taffy is used often now . Not sure if it was or is slur maybe Colin can say.

Scots (and some Irish) call the English "Sassenachs" (Sass - an - Acks)from the latin "saxones" ie Saxons, which they are. In Scotland it actually referred to anyone form the Lowlands (ie not from the Highlands of Scotland) but its wasn't meant as a nice term but like Jocks it is dying out and is mostly used as a joke at Football or Rugby matches.

Redartz said...

Ah, you all are amazing! Another meandering comment chain becomes a fount of edification! Well done, folks...

Anonymous said...

Phillip, I'm not aware that the Vikings were invited. My understanding is that they were the sort of people who just turn up, and you had to deal with them.
Which isn't to say they might not have hired themselves as mercenaries before taking over (they did that in a lot of places).

But don't worry - we don't have anything against Yorkshire because of them. Its a long time since Sygtrygg Silkbeard the last Norse Yorkie king of Dublin was kicked out of Ireland, and anyway we do know you lot aren't part of Scandanavia any more.


Anonymous said...

Sean - Your Irish history knowledge is vastly superior to mine - not surprisingly! I've just been looking at Ireland & the Vikings, and it seems incredibly complicated & convoluted.

The episode I was misremembering - as your last paragraph hints at - is when the king of Leinster, Mael Morda, invited Sygtrygg Silkbeard over, to help him fight Brian Boru. This didn't result in the Vikings taking over, but was, in fact, a severe bloody nose for them (as you pointed out!)

There was another Viking ruler - Amlaib Cuaran - who was king of Dublin & York - so we both had to deal with the Vikings!


Humanbelly said...

We have such a variety of folks from the British Isles represented here (Is there anyone from Wales? Do give a shout-out, if so!)--- and it occurs to me that via keyboard might be the clearest way for the whole English-speaking gang to communicate, yeah? 'Cause in spite of the theoretically in-common language, I'll be darned if every time I watch DERRY GIRLS or HAMISH MACBETH or any number of folks on the GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW I don't have to re-start after five minutes to re-learn how to listen to the accents and dialects-- it's like, "What on earth did they just say. . . ?"

And yet when typing... by gad, if we don't all sound the same-!

HB (who REALLY wanted to make sure this thread hits 80 responses---)

McSCOTTY said...

Awa an bile yer heid man whit ya goin on 'bout, we dinae talk wae ony accent ya need ta clean yer lugs oot ya bahookiešŸ˜

Anonymous said...

Ni thuigim a fhadhb ach oiread, Paul.


McSCOTTY said...

MeiriceĆ”naigh tipiciĆŗla Sean lol

v mark said...

Ummmm - well, my gramma was from Lossiemouth in NE Scotland.
All she ever said was something like "don ye ever trust the Ainglish, wee Markie."

So did ye hit yer 80 responses then, HB?

Humanbelly said...

@v-mark: Ha! Not me, myself, no-- but it looks like your response was #84- ! (I wonder what the record is-?)

PLUS McScotty gifted me with a new Astrological sign-! I am the INCREDIBLY rare and elusive Bahookie-! ("The Brother of the Hairy Henchman", perhaps?)

. . . Cripes, what were we talking about, again. . . ?

HB (Born under the sign of the Inaccurate Pedant---)

McSCOTTY said...

Lol good one HB šŸ˜

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