After writing the post on Masters of War, I googled on protest song lists, and of course there are quite a few of them out there in cyberspace. One remarkable one I found on Answers.com/Wikipedia; it’s (original?) author claims that “This is an incomplete list of protest songs by notable artists, which can or may never satisfy any objective standard for completeness”. True, and that can be said of just about anything. Given though that this list, categorised by such headings as ‘America’ ( a bit of a dodgey one), ‘animal rights and meat consumption’, ‘anti-fascism’, ‘capital punishment’, ‘gay rights’, ‘globalisation and corporate dominance’, ‘war’, etc. would have easily more than 3000 songs, I think this effort deserves quite a bit more than just humbleness .
Another list is a bit smaller – as stated by its heading “Top 10 Songs Protesting Bush and the War in Iraq”; compiled by Kim Ruehl it can be found in the About.com folk music section. As the context suggests: all of its songs have a folk protest song flavour and were written after 9/11. Kim also has published in the same section a list called ‘Top 10 Best in Protest Music 2006‘; again 10 songs, this time from artists like Dixie Chicks, Ani Difranco, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen or Indigo Girls.
A great site is ‘Anti War Songs, à la Carte‘ which offers links to legal downloads and lyrics of anti-war songs. It references mostly English language songs from many protest music genres, most with clips, covers, albums, writers and links to lyrics and/or audio downloads. Songs newly written or remixed for the 2003 attack on Iraq as well as timeless classics are among this comprehensive, yet growing list.
Amazon’s list mania too has an offering called ‘best protest music‘ which, given Amazon’s desire to sell albums, is not a comprehensive list of protest songs (or music for that matter) and therefore is a bit misleading (e.g. The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival would not offer too many protest songs).
We could cast the net a bit wider and look at songs that, rather focusing on protest, set out to make social and political statements – like ‘Songs of Consciousness and Awakening‘, Salil Chowdhury’s music composed during the 40s and 50s. That though would be another list discussion, for maybe another time … .