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jgurner
Forum Full Member


Registered: 05/20/04
Posts: 1950
Location: The Valley, Mississippi USofA
 
Protest Songs
Wednesday, February 15 2017 @ 04:39 PM CST

Though I haven't done any lately (that I've posted), I've done my fair share of protest songs. They're more about me getting my anger and frustration out than any thought they might actually help change things or make people aware of some injustice. But protest songs do have a history of aiding the cause, of becoming a rallying point for an issue or a movement. I think they're relevant historically and could still be relevant today.

But, I found this take on protest songs from Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne interesting. (WARNING: F-bombs ahead.)

Music is, when it's at its most powerful, it's your comforting friend. When you're having deep personal pain, frankly, you don't really give a fuck who's president—whether it's Obama or whether it's Hitler or whatever. I remember the year my father died. I didn't give a fuck who was the mayor. I didn't give a fuck about any of that. But music, when it's at its most powerful, it's there with you and you can relate to it. Our music doesn't really work any other way except for that way. Maybe you're the only person that understands this [pain], but this music understands this with you. We want to be there with you in this pain. When we think, "Oh, we should make protest music," that’s just us being stupid and silly.

Here is the link to the article. This is only one of the subjects discussed in the conversation with Coyne in the article.

I do think he has a point, especially about the comforting aspect of music. I use music to escape. A tough time in life? The write and record a 80s-style pop song or a polka about love, beer or robots becoming sentient and rising to overthrow the human race. But I also do think using music for protest is a positive thing. It may not be for everyone and it may not be Coyne and Flaming Lips' bag, but I think in the grand scheme of things it serves an important purpose.

I'd be interested to know what you guys think. And interested in links to your favorite protest songs - either ones you've written and recorded or ones you like.
Daugrin
Forum Full Member


Registered: 03/24/09
Posts: 1107
Location: , Extraverse
 
Re:Protest Songs
Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 07:19 AM CST

There is a Rolling Stones' tune "Casino Boogie" on "Exile" where Jagger sings, "Protest music, million dollar sad." Kinda sums up the protest music trip for me, anyway, he claims the phrase was literally pulled out of a hat of phrases during the writing process for this particular number. Ala William Burroughs.

Exactly what does being contrary mean? "Protest the President" for instance, means what?

Dissent, in the media we live with is not protest, it is confusion. Only approved dissent is permitted in the mass delusion. This approved dissent, or protest if you will, appears to
support decisions made by a group of Elites. Protest is simply propaganda. Dissent, or the search for the truth, is something else, and is not permitted: in the media, in schools, in the corporate workplace, in government, in what is published, in what is online. Test this yourself. Tell the truth somewhere. Just the idea is too scary to contemplate?

Flaming Lips protest the President in popular song (0). Flaming Lips cash-in by supporting the leftist propaganda campaign against the President (0). Same reality from two different perspectives?

The truth is somebody gets paid, we know this is true, cos we follow the money and dig William Burroughs... Jagger lies about "Casino Boogie", (which is labeled as a "confusing lyric" in the media), now because he actually told the truth in the number and he has a hard time living with truth. He prefers delusion, for himself and for you. Just makes things so much easier...

Daug
chikoppi
Forum Full Member


Registered: 04/02/04
Posts: 1895
Location: N/A
 
Re:Protest Songs
Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 01:07 PM CST

Quote by: Daugrin
Dissent, in the media we live with is not protest, it is confusion. Only approved dissent is permitted in the mass delusion. This approved dissent, or protest if you will, appears to support decisions made by a group of Elites. Protest is simply propaganda. Dissent, or the search for the truth, is something else, and is not permitted: in the media, in schools, in the corporate workplace, in government, in what is published, in what is online. Test this yourself. Tell the truth somewhere. Just the idea is too scary to contemplate?



A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Toby Keith have opposing political messages. They all sell millions of records. If you want to critique them for making money, fine. But that doesn't make them tools of the "elites" or hypocritical, nor does it the invalidate the meaning invested in those songs by the people who listen to them.

The fact that the entire spectrum of ideological positions can be found represented in popular music is not evidence of an orchestrated conspiracy, but of diversity of thought, expression, and demand.

The immigrant strike is today, by the way.

“Ya, that idea is dildos.” Skwisgaar Skwigelf
GET SONG FEEDBACK --> MacJams Critics Circles
davisamerica
Forum Full Member


Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 4162
Location: some where, ..... France
 
Re:Protest Songs
Thursday, February 16 2017 @ 06:32 PM CST


I have finally figured this out but now I have forgotten what to use it for.
jgurner
Forum Full Member


Registered: 05/20/04
Posts: 1950
Location: The Valley, Mississippi USofA
 
Re:Protest Songs
Friday, February 17 2017 @ 11:33 AM CST

Quote by: Daugrin
There is a Rolling Stones' tune "Casino Boogie" on "Exile" where Jagger sings, "Protest music, million dollar sad." Kinda sums up the protest music trip for me, anyway, he claims the phrase was literally pulled out of a hat of phrases during the writing process for this particular number. Ala William Burroughs.

Exactly what does being contrary mean? "Protest the President" for instance, means what?

Dissent, in the media we live with is not protest, it is confusion. Only approved dissent is permitted in the mass delusion. This approved dissent, or protest if you will, appears to
support decisions made by a group of Elites. Protest is simply propaganda. Dissent, or the search for the truth, is something else, and is not permitted: in the media, in schools, in the corporate workplace, in government, in what is published, in what is online. Test this yourself. Tell the truth somewhere. Just the idea is too scary to contemplate?

Flaming Lips protest the President in popular song (0). Flaming Lips cash-in by supporting the leftist propaganda campaign against the President (0). Same reality from two different perspectives?

The truth is somebody gets paid, we know this is true, cos we follow the money and dig William Burroughs... Jagger lies about "Casino Boogie", (which is labeled as a "confusing lyric" in the media), now because he actually told the truth in the number and he has a hard time living with truth. He prefers delusion, for himself and for you. Just makes things so much easier...

Daug


I wasn't familiar with the Stone's song (not a big Stones fan), but looking it up and listening to the tune, it appears the lyric is actually "grotesque music, million dollar sad," which is an interesting phrase, but I don't think really applies to the topic (unless you consider protest "grotesque, which you may. I don't know.)

I'll definitely give you that in today's world there's possibly a financial component to a working artist doing some sort of protest piece - whether it's to directly cash in, promote the brand or drive hits to a website. And for any artist tethered to a record company, that company is going to have a vested financial interest they may hold over an artist’s head. Before the election, Death Cab for Cutie released the song "Million Dollar Loan." It may have been the expression of their feeling, but I'm sure it was "record company approved" protest and it was definitely used to help market the band. n the other hand, artists such as Madonna and Bruce Springsteen can probably get away with saying and doing whatever they want and the record company says nothing.

More traditional protest music - antislavery songs of the 1800s, songs supporting workers' rights and the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th Century - were used to convey a message, instill unity, and to provide a voice against oppression and wrongs. Slaves singing protest songs in the guise of spirituals were definitely not profiting off their tunes. They definitely weren’t “elites” either.

Later musicians may have gained from protest music, but it seems to me people like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger used their stature and talent to spread a message rather than using a message to make money. The same could be said about many artists. I doubt anyone ever wrote a protest song to get rich. I doubt anyone here at MJ who records a protest tune has dollar signs in their eyes.

As for "approved dissent," I say maybe. In today's world a record label might have an issue with an artist recording and releasing a song protesting a particular issue. So what do they do? Like everything, it goes back to Star Trek. They couldn't openly write about the Vietnam War, so they wrote "A Private Little War." They couldn't deal directly with racism in America and the Civil Rights Movement, so they wrote "Let That Be You Last Battlefield."

If you're so constrained, you write what can get past the gatekeepers. Slaves couldn't necessarily sing about their oppression and hopes of freedom, but they could sing "Go Down Moses" and it gets past the overseers, who write it off as a spiritual. The idea gets through. You just might have to change the wrapping.
bronco
Forum Full Member


Registered: 05/31/04
Posts: 530
Location: N/A
 
Re:Protest Songs
Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 03:16 PM CST

I would wish that any song would be sincere and come from the heart, the soul or that line that seems to come from nowhere and send us words. I know that's not true and that a lot of people see songs as just a means to tap into an audience and make money. But if you wanted to pick a genre of music that has made the least amount of money then I think protest songs are it. Oh sure there are occasional hits and what your definition of a protest song is and even songs that are misunderstood by the record buying public. Like Springsteen's Born In The USA which most people thought was a patriotic song but was actually a protest song against the Vietnam War.

But for the most part protest songs come from the heart and are not cynical exercises in jumping on one bandwagon or another.
SmokeyVW
Forum Full Member


Registered: 06/13/06
Posts: 6989
Location: N/A
 
Re:Protest Songs
Saturday, February 18 2017 @ 05:24 PM CST

sometimes it's hard to recognize a protest song https://www.macjams.com/song/32691
DWL
Forum Full Member


Registered: 10/24/06
Posts: 1306
Location: Everywhere and nowhere baby ,
 
Re:Protest Songs
Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 04:18 AM CST

Many of my songs could be put into the "protest" genre. I've certainly never made any money or wanted to make any from those songs.

When I write I want to convey an idea but also to express my own anger or sorrow at the inequalities or injustice I see.



Hanging in with the out crowd (All rights reserved)
Dadai.2
Forum Full Member


Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 1711
Location: Nowhere land...,
 
Re:Protest Songs
Sunday, February 19 2017 @ 07:36 PM CST

Protest songs, imho, are most effective when somewhat subtle. That is, the message is communicated more by metaphor rather than upfront in your face lyric/message. It's a good thing when the listener has to ask - what is the message of this song. It draws him in and causes him to dig deeper into the song's meaning and music - and to listen... which is not a bad thing!
;-)

smug moral posturing & virtue signaling? nope...
 
Moviz
Forum Full Member


Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 1283
Location: , UK
 
Re:Protest Songs
Monday, February 20 2017 @ 06:55 PM CST

Hmmm, some of mine even could be classed as 'protest' songs, though I think the message gets to the listener better when just sowing the seed, (so to speak) in a way that gets the listener on side without them realising it IS a protest song.

It's never too late.... is it?