Whether you need some tuneage to plan the revolution, or just some songs to get you through the day, we've got you covered.
Maggie's Farm - Rage Against The Machine
This song makes me proud to be an American. To have the freedom to to listen to such a subversive lyric unmolested by legal repercussions is a patriotic joy. Originally written and recorded by Bob Dylan for his 1965 release, Bringing It All Back Home. But RATM, true to form, captures the anger and frustration of the individual as he/she faces the systems of social and political conformity. RATM is no lover of President Trump. Yet ironically, the rejection of the status quo and distaste for the machines of the state as expressed in this song are in many ways similar to the sentiments which led to results of the 2016 Presidential election. This makes "Maggie's Farm" a song with an odd sense of national solidarity and rebellion.
Make America Great Again - Pussy Riot
Do you bristle at the connotation of the new President's slogan but can't help but be inexplicably drawn to the catchiness of the phrase? If so, this track is for you.
With lines such as,
"Let other people in
Listen to your women
Stop killing black children
Make America Great Again"
Pussy Riot's latest single is perfect fuel for some righteous indignation on Inauguration Day. It comes as an added bonus that the song comes from a band famously imprisoned by in 2012 for protesting the re-election of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. If there was a modernized American Cold War nostalgia Bond film released tomorrow, this would be the theme song.
World Leader Pretend - R.E.M.
"World Leader Pretend" was interpreted by many to be a scathing take on President Reagan's presidency, upon its release in 1988. Lead singer, Michael Stipe, has always reserved the right to be somewhat ambiguous in his lyricism and there's an equal current of self-criticism in this song. This adds a certain richness to the protest song as it becomes not just a protest of the government but also forces the protester themselves to take certain responsibility the wrongs of the world.
"This is my mistake
Let me make it good"
Nevertheless, R.E.M. included a live performance of "World Leader Pretend" in the 30 Songs, 30 Days movement, meant as a protest of the incoming President. Maybe the song isn't that nuanced.
Rebel Girl - Bikini Kill
Bikini Kill's classic isn't exactly a protest song per se. However, it packs a punch in empowering women everywhere. One could make the argument that to be a woman is to be a gatekeeper of the future and that to empower that gatekeeper is an inherently subversive act. I do make that argument and therefore I'm sticking this song right here.
It's also part of the Captain Fantastic soundtrack which is a dope movie with Viggo Mortensen that you should check out. Power to the people, stick it to the man.
The Star Spangled Banner - Whitney Houston
- Because it's THE best version.
- Because it's important to foster love for our country as the fuel by which we protest aspects we disagree with.
- The story behind this video is inspiring in and of itself.
1812 Overture - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
I should confess something. I'm not a huge fan of Tchaikovsky. I think his melodies can be bloated and sentimental. This particular song speaks more of Bugs Bunny than of the liberation of nations to me. But for those fans of V for Vendetta who were waiting for a shout out...this is for you. The Wachowskis know how to romanticize revolution, no doubt. So if this song helps you with that endeavor, go with G-d.
This Land Is Your Land - Marc Scibilia
Woody Guthrie's well known song most recently made headlines during last year's Super Bowl as football fans everywhere questioned the decidedly globalized direction of the song by Jeep. Then again, Guthrie's original lyrics aren't far off:
"There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said 'Private Property.'
But on the backside, it didn't say nothing.
This land was made for you and me."
Marc Scibilia delivers a haunting rendition that evokes Lady Liberty's call for "...your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…"
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised - Gil Scott-Heron
No playlist of disgruntled patriotism would be complete without Gil Scott-Heron. Not only does the sage-like Heron remind us of the national pathologies that demand a revolutionary healing. It also calls to mind the fact that the media we're fed on our TV sets, tablets, iPhones, and smart watches isn't necessarily the whole picture.
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Punk rock may be the rhythm of rebellion...but the heartbeat of American perseverance has always been Soul. Marvin Gaye gives voice to the raw hurt of loss and disappointment like few others . It may not be political in a partisan sense, but "What's Going On" is certainly political in the literal sense of affirming the lives of the people. Isn't that what we're all looking for on Inauguration Day?
Seriously - Sara Bareilles and Leslie Odom Jr.
I struggled as to whether or not to include this song in this playlist. Reason being, it's technically written in the voice of President Obama and I questioned whether or not a voice so intrinsically linked with the "system" should be included in a playlist of protest. I finally decided to include it for two reasons.
One, since the words are actually written by an artist and not the politician himself it's an intriguing look at how we project our political desire onto our candidates with or without their knowledge and consent.
Two, it's a dope song.