JAM: Protest Playlist

by Mark Jacobo

In light of the recent “Occupy Wall Street” protests that are taking place in New York City and 70 other cities in the U.S.—including San Diego—I have decided to dedicate today’s blog to just a handful of classic protest songs that embody the current movement. In our lifetime we will face social change, upheaval, and inequality that we want to justify, and we need that perfect soundtrack that will help us in our battle against the Man.

The Times They Are A-Changing, by Bob Dylan
The greatest aspect of “The Times They Are A-Changing” is that it’s the realization that, well, the times are a-changing. “The loser now/Will be later to win”, sings Dylan in his raspy voice. Dylan also asks the older generation to accept the change, in my favorite line in the song: “Come Mothers and Fathers, throughout the land/and don’t criticize what you can’t understand/Your sons and daughters are beyond your command”. It’s a song that will stand the test of time so long as social upheaval is there to conjure up the lyrics.

Volunteers, by Jefferson Airplane
Another song that divides the youth from the older generation, “Volunteers” calls on young Americans to march and start a revolution. “One generation got old/One generation got Soul”, sings Marty Balin, calling protestors “volunteers” of America.

Get Up, Stand Up, by Bob Marley
One of the most recognized anthems in musical history, “Get up, Stand Up”, orders listener’s to literally “stand up for your rights”. It’s a timeless song that will forever motivate people to “get up, stand up”.

We’re Not Gonna Take It, by Twisted Sister
Okay, okay, this song is here just for fun. But just listen to it—“We’re not gonna take it!” yells lead singer Dee Snider; not singing along is so hard to do. It perfectly suits the attitude of the protestors attending Occupy Wall Street.

I Fought the Law, by The Clash
Originally written by Sonny Curtis of The Crickets, The Clash’s cover of this classic song has become an anthem for the punk rock community. True, the song states that “the law won”, but it’s the struggle between man and the system that is most intriguing of this song. When the law wins, doesn’t it make you want to keep on fighting?

As long as there are injustices in the world there will be protests, and as long as there are protests there will be protest songs to fuel the people for their fight against the system. If you are protesting in San Diego, or New York, or anywhere in the country, good luck and stay out of harms way!